The Houston Chronicle recently listed some of the biggest problems that prevent effective team work. These include bad leadership, poor goal planning, personality clashes, and poor communications. Some basic team building exercises will not only provide a way to identify these problems before they start becoming an issue, but also serve as a way of addressing them.
Getting employees to work together as part of a team can be a greater problem than just grouping them together, selecting a leader, and giving the new team a goal to accomplish. Often people have to learn to operate and produce as part of a team. Otherwise, big problems can arise if they don't have the team mindset and can't effectively work together.
A team building exercise is often held off site and is designed to give team members experience in accomplishing a goal in a fun, collaborative way that, hopefully, will translate back to the work place.
Hold a sporting event, softball for example, that pits teams against one another, creating a competitive spirit while also fostering team work and cooperation. A team that has experienced the joys of victory or the agony of defeat has undergone a shared experience that will promote its cohesion and the ability to work together.
Volunteer for a charity. An ideal activity would be helping to build a home for Habitat for Humanity, which involves all sorts of team based work.
Encourage hobby clubs. A business can provide space and other minimal support for employees to do everything from photography to internet game playing to a book discussion group during lunch or after hours.
The takeaway is that ideas for building effective teams are only limited by the imagination.
If you're struggling with building effective teams here are a two other posts that might help: