Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Build your team on a shoestring

I just watched the most amazing thing - a bunch of people sitting around a table suddenly becoming a team when someone accidentally spills coffee all over the desk, the laptops and the papers.  While everyone was trying to clean things up, mishaps happened along the way, resulting in laughter, joking and lots of conversation.  Suddenly, these people became a team.

I'm not recommending you spill lots of drinks on people's desks, but there are ways to build a team that don't have to cost a lot of money.

Regardless the size of your company - even if you're working by yourself - everyone works on different teams.  If you work at a co-working site, you're part of that team, as well as your company team.  If you work at home for another company, those you report to are part of your team.  If you work for or own a larger company, you may belong to several teams.  We're all interconnected, so building a better atmosphere in which to work and play is important to our personal and business well-being.

Here are some ways I've used to help companies, large and small, build their teams on a shoestring:

  • The wonders of a free lunch.  At one company I worked with, the C-suite team gave their middle managers books of gift certificates for local restaurants.  They were then empowered to treat an employee to lunch every week.  In most cases, the certificates were given to the middle 80-percent of the workforce - those who come in every day and just get their jobs done, without fanfare or trouble.  It didn't take long before those teams using gift certificates were melding together.  Another company chose random days to bring lunch in for everyone in the office; that wasn't necessarily cheap, but it definitely less expensive than holding an outside retreat or the cost of replacing team members who leave.
  • Take the afternoon off.  One of the best ways to show your appreciation for your team members is by giving them a random afternoon off.  Don't do it as a reward for anything special they've done; do it because they're there every day, day in and day out and you appreciate that.  That afternoon doesn't come out of their paid time off; it's just a gift.  Team members will never know when they're next, so it'll create buzz within the team and draw everyone closer together and to you, as their leader.
  • Remote days.  Increasingly companies are giving their team members a certain number of days where they can work remotely.  One client discovered the benefit of this when they were having the carpeting replaced in their offices.  Everyone was forced to work at home during that time.  The result was an increase in productivity when the employees were in the office.  Morale rose, absenteeism went down and everyone was in a better mood when they were in the office, knowing they could take one day each week to work at home or a co-working site.
Those are only three suggestions I've used successfully to help clients build their teams without a lot of money.  

What have you used to build your team that doesn't involve taking everyone out to a zip-lining company or walking through fire?  Leave your ideas in the comments below.