In the early days of the pandemic, the rush was on for remote team building. People looked for ways to host virtual lunches, virtual happy hours, and other time-consuming, sometimes elaborate approaches to building teams virtually. Now that many organizations are settling into – or planning for – a hybrid workplace, they are looking for ways to do hybrid team building. I want to share some simple, tested ways to create engagement and connection across your hybrid teams, without costing hours or increasing the risk of Zoom fatigue.
Team Building Is Complex
Team building is often reduced to “getting people to know and like each other.” And while those are important goals, truly building a team goes beyond those basics. I cannot cover all of those aspects here today. But I can give you some simple approaches to facilitate engagement, relationships, and understanding across your hybrid team. (For a more in-depth look at the intricacies of leading hybrid teams, consider our Building Effective Hybrid Teams Master Class.) With that clarification, here are five simple ways to help your team grow and stay connected.
- Make Every Meeting a Chance For Hybrid Team Building. While there is nothing wrong with a separate meeting or virtual gathering with the purpose of “team building” (and if these approaches are working for you keep doing them!) you can build connection and relationship in every meeting too. Carve out 5-10 minutes at the start of meetings where this is the goal. Focus on the relationships before you move to the results. Take that time to nurture the connections before you get on to the challenges in front of you.
- Share Simple Things. Building connection doesn’t have to be difficult or complex. Have your meeting on a Friday? Ask everyone to quickly share one thing they are going to do over the weekend (probably more energy-producing if you ask it as “one thing you are looking forward to this weekend”). If you meet on Monday, have people share one good thing that happened over the weekend. These types of questions give people a glimpse into other people’s personalities and likes and creates new connections and conversations outside of the meeting. I’ve also asked the team to share one thing they are grateful for at that moment – this simple question lifted our spirits, gave us new insights into each other and lifted the energy of our hybrid meeting significantly.
- Share Favorites. I have asked my team to share a variety of favorites over time. I’ve asked people to: share a favorite food, a favorite TV show as a kid, your favorite childhood book, as examples. You can also have people send their answers to you in advance and create a contest – where people have to guess each other’s favorite. This takes a little longer but provides a more interactive twist. As people share their answers, people keep track of how many they guessed correctly, and allows for giving a small gift to the person who was most accurate. Once I asked the team to share their favorite candy, and after the completion of a major team project that candy showed up at everyone’s home.
- Share Ideas or Tips. This allows you to rely on the wisdom of the group and can help build trust across the team. Ask people to share something interesting and helpful to the rest of the team. Use your imagination in selecting a question! Here are three examples: one thing they do to reduce stress, one way they avoid Zoom fatigue, one way they stay connected to others on the team. As they share their ideas, everyone else is getting practical tips and seeing others in positive and helpful ways.
- Keep The Mission in Mind. While we want to keep people connected to each other, we need to keep people connected to your mission, your meaning and your purpose too. Share the big picture with the team regularly (perhaps at the start of each full team meeting), and have people share stories of progress towards and instances of success in reaching that mission.
These ideas are only meant to be a start in helping you with hybrid team building. Using the ideas here will keep you going for awhile and give you the confidence to create your own ideas. You can also share this article with your team, and invite others to take responsibility for the team building segment of your next hybrid or virtual meeting.
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