Building a Team in a Challenging Economy

Doug Staneart  |  June 15, 2011
last updated

Building a Team in a Challenging Economy Building a team or increasing teamwork in an organization can be more challenging in a tough economy. However, it is critical that good leaders spend time building a team culture or a team atmosphere. It is even more important when things aren’t going so well.

When the economy is booming, many organizations focus on team building activities. Leaders want to make sure that they attract and keep the highest quality employees and associates.

Often, though, when uncertainty in the economy occurs, leaders often cut back on training and team building. This can be a big mistake, though. When morale is down, team building activities can give a team a much-needed boost in energy. They can also increase their positive expectations of the future. If you increase the morale, you decrease the fear that many associates will typically experience.

Improve Morale with Team Building Activities

When morale is down, normal communication that is important to the success of an organization decreases as well. When this occurs, mistakes increase, and re-work also becomes more prevalent. An easy way to boost morale very quickly is to invest in a fun, professional team building activity. This will get your team to focus on the good that your organization accomplishes every day.

Charity team building events can be a fun way to improve morale because they also donate proceeds to charity. This gives a double return on your investment. Your team feels good about themselves and the company. Second, the charity receives much-needed proceeds. Finally, your organization might even get a nice bump in positive publicity.

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “Turn Your Disengaged Employees into a Dedicated Team.“.

Decrease Fear and Increase Efficiency

In addition, when there is a challenge in the economy, most people, good hard-working people, go into a defensive stance. They want to keep their head down and not make waves. We do this out of self-preservation. But this type of behavior takes away the enthusiasm and creativity that companies, especially young companies, rely on to create those breakthroughs that give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Fear in the workplace makes this creativity go away. So, a good team activity can help foster creativity — at least for a short period of time.

One of the important things for leaders to do during these times is to go to their people individually and let each of them know how important they are to the success of the organization. Encourage them to share their ideas. Great leaders make this dialogue a part of both their normal day-to-day discussions with their people. They also make it a part of the communication to the organization as a whole at conventions or annual meetings.

Teamwork Starts at the Top

The team will always be a reflection of the leaders at the top of the organization. So if the leaders are scared of the future, if the leaders are keeping their heads down, then the team members will follow suit. Anytime communication comes from leadership, it needs to reflect optimism and team culture. This includes internal documents, press releases, or just communication between executives.

Edify your coworkers and your company, and you’ll see morale and teamwork improve very quickly. When you organize conventions and annual events, make sure to focus very specifically on the perception that is created by your speeches, guest speakers, activities, and events.

A Fun Example of How You Can Improve Morale within Your Team.

Recently, I was asked to help deliver a team event in Orlando where the company rented out the entire Omni Hotel. They did this just so that they could really customize the entire event for their team. I was impressed when I was walking around the pool and noticed my client’s logo “painted” on the bottom of the pool. My first impression was, “Wow, this company is doing really well.” In reality, though, that logo printing might have cost about $100 or so to create. (It wasn’t actually painted.) Those small additions to your events add a lot to the perception that you are creating.

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “In Between Meetings? Try a Group Outing to Improve Morale.“.

So when times are tough, make sure and use this as an opportunity to build your team culture by improving morale and decreasing fear. Make a conscious effort to present positive communication to your team, your coworkers, and the general public, and you’ll build a stronger team while your competitors “keep their heads down.”

author Doug Staneart
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Doug Staneart is president of The Leader's Institute ®. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Region. He is a specialist in corporate team building activities and custom presentation skills seminars.
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