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Team building exercises ‘can improve office work’

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Employers may be able to generate a better working environment in the office by conducting team building exercises, it has been suggested.

Paul Matthews, managing director and founder at People Alchemy Ltd, explained that there are a number of different options for employers seeking to encourage stronger relationships between work colleagues.

He suggested that – very often – the most effective exercises are based on team members discovering more about each other in terms of their personalities, behavioural preferences and the roles they gravitate to within a team.

“This often involves some sort of psychometric instrument such as Belbin, MBTI, Birkman, SDI et cetera. There are dozens of them, all claiming to be the best by their advocates,” Mr Matthews noted.

He said that one of the key things to understand about other team members is how colleagues operate under stress.

“This can be quite different from ‘normal’ operating behaviour,” the expert noted.

“Recognising a stress response for what it is rather than an ‘attack’ or ‘being stupid’ allows for help and sharing the load when things get tough.”

Another strategy is to get an understanding of personal values and how those can be grouped into the values of the team as a whole.

Employers should encourage their staff to think about what is good, bad, right and wrong, Mr Matthews added.

“This then leads to very useful exercises that lead the team to generate a set of ‘rules of engagement’ or team charter that they are all willing to sign up to.”

Employees will then have a framework to refer to when there are disputes, or disagreements, he added.

For instance, a rule could be that when the team decides on a course of action, everyone supports it wholeheartedly, even if they were the dissenter before the decision.