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UR Medicine


Doing Your Own Team Building

Team building improves communication, increases morale, and boosts productivity. But what if your employer doesn’t offer those big off-site team-building retreats? How can small two-person teams benefit?

Try do-it-yourself team building! Simple exercises can rejuvenate you. Find exercises (hundreds are at online bookstores) that 1) focus on building trust; 2) offer the experience of being open with feelings; 3) allow team members to practice nonjudgmental thinking about each other; and 4) give each team member the opportunity to feel vulnerable but have the vulnerability rewarded with safety and acceptance.

Team desire to maintain emotional closeness following team building is its own motivation to reduce conflict and practice healthier communication. Refreshing the commitment team members have for one another, even with one team-building exercise, helps walls from forming between members. This dynamic arises from workplace stress—it’s all normal. Understanding the gains from team building will have you doing it more often.

Try an exercise: One team member shares a negative experience of their workday with another team member—the more personal the better. One coworker repeats what was shared, but focuses only on the positive aspects of the negative experience. The goal is to identify the positive benefits of negative experiences. Then, switch roles. With this experience, team members learn to reframe negative experiences into positive ones that build resilience, while feeling accepted and supported.

Keith Stein | 6/14/2018

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