Team Building Ideas for your Company or Office

Let’s look at some of my favorite ideas. Common sense, as well as much current research, tells us that happy employees are more productive employees, so implementing even a few of these ideas will not only boost morale but will certainly impact productivity and profit.

• Have a company poster party for all frustrated/aspiring artists to create signs and posters that demonstrate the company’s values. Use quotations, graphics, and bright colors. Display them in clear plastic frames throughout the building and move them once a week so that everyone can see all of them. Not only will you find talent you didn’t know existed, but you will also be creating an atmosphere of inspiration and delight. Tom Peters says if your hallways are boring, chances are everything your organization does is boring!

• Purchase a “Red Plate” for your organization or department which says “You are special today.” This can be passed around as an affirmation to anyone in the company. It is amazing how such a small thing can make a huge difference in morale. You may want to also keep a record of who gets the plate and why another way to celebrate one another.

• Add a quotation, graphic, cartoon, or seasonal reminder to memos and fax cover sheets. Make them fun and interesting! Most fax cover sheets I see are extremely boring, and the organization has missed a wonderful opportunity to make an impression, differentiate itself, and communicate their ideas and values.

• Create a company mascot which goes along with the spirit of the company. For example, Rosenbluth Travel uses a salmon because they’re always “swimming upstream!” They give their clients stuffed salmon, chocolate salmon; a salmon pin is their highest internal award. Another client of mine has a Marketing Department mascot, a green frog. The company has had lots of fun by other departments “kidnapping” the frog and then sending ransom notes.

• Have a “Laugh a Day” bulletin board where you display appropriate cartoons and humorous writings. You may also want to keep a fishbowl of cartoons and jokes in the reception area of your organization so that visitors, too, can have a smile while they are waiting. Research has shown that the most productive workplaces have about 10 minutes of laughter every hour. Is your workplace a place where people are enjoying themselves?
• Designate one room as the company “Whine Cellar,” the place for anyone to go who is having a bad day or wants to gripe. Put a sign on the door and have fun decorating it (in black?). You may bring in stress toys, stuffed animals, cartoon books, and perhaps even treats. When someone is crabby, suggest they spend some time there. It will probably become everyone’s favorite place to go!
• Take a look at your office — what does it say about your Human level? Always display in your office one or two reminders of things you really love. Not only will it be more comfortable for you because it reminds you of the really important things in your life, but it will also help others to connect with you more quickly.

• Post “Street” signs to name hallways in your building. Choose names which communicate your company’s mission or values or relate to your core business. You may also want to name hallways after valued employees. By making these values visible daily, employees will constantly be reminded of the organization’s foundation and reason for being.
• Think of something creative you could offer your customers as a “free” sample. The Savings Bank of Rockford, CT, gives its customers a dime taped on a fold-over card that says, “Who says we don’t give free samples?” Everyone loves giveaways, and these can also become powerful marketing tools.
Remember that it truly is the little things that really count. You may decide to try one new idea a month, or form a Spirit Committee and have them design a plan to incorporate some of these things into your culture, or simply use these ideas to get your own creative juices going to come up with other ideas that your employees will enjoy. Managers should be the champions of their staff. Take that role even more seriously and help create an atmosphere that produces peak performers and committed, joyful workers. Have fun and keep CARE-ing!

• Have a contest with employees — “If my company/ department were a T-shirt, this is what it would say. . . .” Then have them actually design the shirt, either on a real T-shirt or a piece of paper. Photograph, post, or videotape the results. You will learn amazing things about the way people feel about your organization, you will be encouraging them to get their creative juices going, and you will have fun in the process. Company legends are created from experiences like these!

• Send a handwritten note to at least one customer and one co-worker a week. These can be as simple as small Post-it notes or even a printed card where you add a handwritten sentence. This will not only dazzle your external customers but will also build loyalty internally. We are all desperate to be appreciated in our world today. You will need a strategy to remember, so pick one day of the week for this activity.

• Keep a bulletin board in your office of pictures of repeat customers and their families. This will not only help build relationships as you collect the pictures, but it will also remind everyone in the organization of why they have a job! Send birthday cards to them on their special day and congratulations cards when they achieve either a personal or a business success. We spend so much time on finding new customers that we often forget the good, loyal customers we already have. Celebrate them and keep your relationships focused on both the business and the human levels. Have another board where you post pictures of employees’ families, weddings, graduations, vacations, new grandchildren, and other successes. Thus, you will be celebrating their loyalty as well!

• When people in your organization first turn on their computers, have a message of the day such as a quotation on customer service, personal growth, something humorous, or even the birthdays of employees during that week. If a day begins with inspiration, it will help lift the level of interaction in your workplace. However, if you start doing this, be prepared to continue, or it will be a negative experience when employees expect this encouragement and some days it’s not there.

• For an all-company celebration, in small groups creatively dramatize significant events from the year or from the company’s history, or even a company legend. These can be presented either live or videotaped. This experience will bring out talent and creativity that you didn’t even know you had, and it will also be a teambuilding experience for everyone. The pride that comes from celebrating one’s organization is long lasting and creates a special kind of employee loyalty.

• Collect company legends and success stories on video or audiotape. If possible, interview the employee or the customer to whom they happened. These tapes become a source of pride for current employees and a wonderful addition to orientation for new hires. You will be recording and celebrating the moments of peak performance in your organizational culture.

• Once a month encourage senior managers to do something creative for all employees, or for employees in their divisions: cook them breakfast, bring around an ice cream cart, serve them doughnuts and coffee, wash the windshields of their cars as they arrive at work, or even take them all to lunch. These small acts of appreciation will be remembered and talked about for weeks!

• Add a personal signature to your work to differentiate yourself from all the others who do the same work as you. A United Airlines captain, on each of his flights, writes thank-you notes to several passengers whom he picks at random from the computer, thanking them for choosing his airline and offering his help in any way they might need. A grocery store bagger always puts a “Thought for the Day” in each person’s groceries. As employees begin to find ways to express themselves in their work by adding a personal signature, your workplace will become more caring, creative, and much more fun!

Remember that it truly is the little things that really count. You may decide to try one new idea a month, or form a Spirit Committee and have them design a plan to incorporate some of these things into your culture, or simply use these ideas to get your own creative juices going to come up with other ideas that your employees will enjoy. Managers should be the champions of their staff. Take that role even more seriously and help create an atmosphere that produces peak performers and committed, joyful workers. Have fun and keep CARE-ing!

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3 responses to “Team Building Ideas for your Company or Office

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