We officially are in the home stretch of 2017. We are one week out before Christmas and only two weeks out from a brand new year. With all of the vacations that happen during the holiday season, this is likely the last full week of 2017 that many are working.
Many of you may have already had your work holiday event for the year, but with this one full working week, we wanted to give a few ideas on how you can use that holiday party or even time together over the next few weeks to jumpstart your team building efforts for 2018.
Pay Attention to Tradition
Traditions are as important in a workplace setting as they are in a family. Don’t believe me? Stop doing something that you have done every year for the past 5 years and see how employees react. Even the smallest thing, like a $5 giftcard to Starbucks can become a tradition that employees honor. They may make fun of it, but believe me, inside they value it. Build up morale going into the new year by honoring the traditions of the past. If budgets are tight or leadership ideas have changed, find some way to still honor the tradition even if you have to change it up a bit.
Then, while going through the tradition, pay attention to what parts of it employees enjoy the most. Let me give you an example. A client of our does an annual holiday outing at the house of the founder. He invites all 23 employees and their significant others to his home for an evening of dinner, drinks and just hanging out. There isn’t really an agenda for the evening, but every year, his wife gives a toast. In this toast she shares how the year has gone from the perspective of a wife who deals with her husband in the evenings after the workday. It has become a bit of a roast of the CEO in a light hearted way that only a spouse could get away with delivering.
And the employees love it.
The CEO didn’t realize how much they loved it until he was asked one year at a meeting a few days before the event if his wife was gearing up for her annual toast. He didn’t even think of it as a tradition until that point. His wife wasn’t planning on giving one that year until he realized that employees thought it was the best part of the night. Now that he knows, he is sure to have it be a part of the evening every year. His wife even writes down little tidbits throughout the year so she can remember the most important stuff when the time comes.
This toast/roast does a couple of things for this team. First, it reminds them of where they have been. It’s amazing what we can forget in the space of a few months. Second, it humanizes the CEO a little. A family member of a high ranking leader can always bring out a little vulnerability that the employees may not realize is there but highly appreciate seeing. Third, it gives the CEO something to build momentum from in the coming year.
Keep It Going:
The hardest part about all the holiday festivities and the myriad of opportunities for natural team building it brings is that it all seems to fizzle and fade in January. Just like those New Year gym goers who seem to disappear around March, any momentum you have from the end of year camaraderie is gone by Valentine’s. It doesn’t have to be this way however.
I suggest to clients that they sit down in December and plan next year’s team building events. Whether those be in-house team building activities during regular meetings or events at an outside location, planning them when people are already in the team building spirit makes things much easier. Plus, it has the added benefit of the types of activities employee’s enjoy being top of mind.
Team building activities should be planned for every month of the year. Now before you roll your eyes, keep in mind I’m not talking about extravagant trips to a spa each time – although if you have that kind of cash, go for it. I’m talking about activities that are designed to allow employees to grow stronger as a team. It can be as simple as beginning and advanced getting to know you activities or an afternoon where everyone gets to share what they feel is going really well and what isn’t. Team activities can be simple and yet have a powerful impact on the ability of the team to work together.
Most leaders think about team activities as a once or twice a year thing. They think about them around holidays or specific company milestone dates such as an anniversary, but the reality is you need mini activities throughout the year to make those larger moments more meaningful and to help the effects from them last.
Once you lose the momentum, your next activity has you starting from scratch or worse, a negative place. Building activities into the year and building off the momentum of the larger activities means constant work towards becoming a stronger team. Work that is always evolving and bettering itself. Use this holiday season to jumpstart that momentum and carry it into 2018.