By MJ Plaster
Remember the pizzazz your team had when it first began to come together and click? It was electrifying, like Fourth of July fireworks set to the 1812 Overture. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but just like all relationships, teams go through stages. What started out with a bang is bound to go stale unless you reinvigorate it from time to time. Team players who lose their mojo are detrimental to your business, so let’s look at symptoms of complacency followed by prescriptions for regaining the spark.
How to Tell When Your Employees Need to Regain Their Mojo
Your team needs a kick in the pants if…
- Team members seem inflexible—as if battle lines are drawn
- Meetings spawn more complaints than solutions
- You sense a feeling of déjà vu when working with the team—as if we’ve been down this road 100 times
- Team members play the blame game
- Smiles have turned into frowns
Tips for Regaining Your Team’s Mojo
When you’ve tried all the usual team-building exercises, all you need to do is add a twist to breathe new life into the experience. We’ll look at eight ways to shake up team-building experiences.
1. The Company Picnic
Instead of ordering the same old, same old from the neighborhood deli, why not hold a company cook-off? Chili and barbecue cook-offs are not only great fun, but they give the team a way to shine outside of the office setting. Ask everyone to print his or her secret recipe to share. Place a bowl in front of each station, and give everyone one marble to drop in the bowl in front of the dish they consider the winner. The person with the most marbles in his or her bowl wins a prize.
You might just discover the team wallflower excels at whipping up some chili or barbecue. The accolades received from team members can light a fire under the person to perform better at work and participate as a full-fledged member of the team.
2. Monthly Coffees
Hire a company to come in once a month with a barista and fancy equipment. Hold the monthly coffees before brainstorming sessions.
3. Working Late on a Special Project?
Is the whole team working late with little notice? Bring in dinner for them. Tired plus hungry never produces stellar results from employees, especially when they’ve had to make last-minute arrangements for their families. Let them grumble together over dinner and get it out of their systems before knuckling down to the hard work ahead.
4. A Job Well Done
When a team comes in under budget, ahead of schedule and produces excellent results, it’s time to reward them. No doubt they’ve spent more than eight hours a day to make it all happen, so reward them with an unexpected day off. No one can keep a frenzied pace without experiencing burnout, so it pays to acknowledge and incentivize hard work when a large project reaches a successful conclusion.
5. Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Once a year, treat the entire team to a minor league or college sports event. Most everyone roots for the home team, so the experience should spark some solidarity.
6. Shake Up Your Brainstorming Sessions
Start with the end in mind and work backward. When someone says, “This can’t be done,” reply with, “If it could be done, how would you do it?” Keep saying it because the more you say it, the more people will dig deeper to come up with novel solutions. Once the solutions begin to flow, team members will attempt to outdo each other.
7. Break Down the Silos
Too often a company starts out as a cohesive unit, but as it grows, people tend to stick with their own—socialize as well as work with employees in their own department. When there’s a conflict within departments, they want their department to prevail. One way to break down the silos is to encourage cross-pollination among departments. Everyone works for the same company, and the mission and goals apply to everyone. You need to remind people in a large organization, “We’re all in this together.” Sometimes you need to force people together before they appreciate what people outside of their department have to offer and contribute to the company.
8. Charity Starts at Home
With all the natural disasters occurring around the world, if you haven’t experienced one in your area, just wait—it’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Notice how the “Cajun Navy” was instrumental in rescuing people in Louisiana after the recent flood. We had an epic flood in Nashville six years ago, and employees from many local companies helped those of us in need.
Anyone can help clear debris from a flooded home. Consider putting together a first-response team of volunteers at your company to help in the event of a local disaster. What you lose in productivity for the day, you’ll gain tenfold in great public relations. Your employees will function at their best when they’re helping those who have been struck by disaster, and they’ll bring some of that spirit back to work with them.
The Cost of Maintaining a Stellar Team
You’ll notice that some of the team-building experiences above cost money. Consider it a cost of doing business. When you weigh the outlay against losing burned-out employees and having to build a new team from scratch, you’ll probably agree that it’s money well spent. More important, the state of mind of your team members affects your bottom line. If you spend time creating a pleasant work environment by encouraging cooperation, the bottom line will reflect your efforts.