Team-Building Events Make Your Business Better on Many Levels

Team-Building Events Make Your Business Better on Many Levels

In the old days, they were called retreats: A group of employees would meet at a hotel and go out in the woods or up in the mountains to bond, and the really smart people would figure a way out of it.

Now, however, they're called team-building activities, and more and more companies, including body shops, are holding several every year for their staff. Some employers are saying good-bye to the traditional company events and replacing them with team-building activities, removing the possibility of employees getting drunk and making a scene at the company holiday party or getting hurt by trying to be a hero at the company softball game.

Some shops hire motivational speakers to inspire their crew. One MSO in northern California takes all of its employees on a three-day cruise. As the team-building event industry has grown, companies have created activities with names like Mr. Treasure Hunt, Paint Night, Parties that Cook, Laser Quest and Mystery by Design, among others.

Loni Amato, president of Ingenious Solutions in Sacramento, CA, has helped the company’s clients discover team-building activities that match their goals and company mission.

"Team-building is the process of turning a group of a company's employees into a cohesive team by doing interesting and entertaining things together," Amato said. "After participating in team-building activities together, employees can better understand one another’s strengths, weaknesses and interests. We have discovered that these events improve productivity while increasing motivation, collaboration and communication. When people spend time with each other away from the workplace, they start trusting each other more and get positive reinforcement from each other."

Here are some popular and affordable team-building activities that usually require one full day or an evening of your employees' time. Some of these have different names depending on your location, but you should be able to find these types of events no matter where you are.

Paint Nights are more popular now than ever before because they provide a great opportunity for bonding through art. No painting experience is required as a performing artist teaches your crew how to paint an image that they get to take home while enjoying food and refreshments.

Mr. Treasure Hunt is a city-wide scavenger hunt that stresses problem-solving and teamwork with clues, puzzles and races.

Urban Putt features 14 different mini-golf courses for groups of any size, including food and libations. Some other shops host kart racing, fake mountain-climbing at a climbing gym or even bungee jumping, but make sure everyone signs a release form before embarking.

Adventure Challenge courses, consisting of cables, ladders, ropes and other obstacles, provide physical, emotional and mental challenges together to build a stronger team.

The Go-Game is an app that makes team-building easy and convenient and can be done in or out of the office.

Mystery by Design is a great way to build your crew while solving a mystery! With more than 20 intriguing plots, your employees can get into character and let their imaginations take over.

Matt McDonnell, the forward-thinking owner of Big Sky Collision Center in Billings, MT, truly believes that team-building activities help his employees become smarter, healthier and more engaged on many levels, he said.

One of McDonnell's most popular team-building events is a book club, which shows you don't even have to leave the building to get your people involved.

"Every Monday, we meet to discuss a book for one hour. The club is always well-attended," McDonnell said. "The first book we read was 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' by Dale Carnegie, and we can see that some of our people are now using some of the theories outlined in the book. We also read 'Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demand of Reality' by Dr. Henry Cloud, and now we're reading 'Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depends on It' by Chris Voss. We pay for the books and buy the coffee, and it turns out to be a great experience with at least half of our employees involved. Some of our people have told us that these are the first books they've read since high school, so the club gets their creative juices going, and it helps them with their jobs."

Another team-building and self-improvement vehicle that McDonnell uses every day involves physical exercise, he said.

"I built a CrossFit gym in our basement, and we have a few workout groups consisting of 10--12 people who go down there daily,” he said. “We encourage them to get in shape, and several of our employees have lost a ton of weight and turned their lives around by working out during business hours. Our motto here is ‘Look better, feel better and perform better,’ and this gym is a big part of that."

Five days a week, Big Sky Collision Center engages its employees in activities that build a better crew and enrich their lives.

"We have estimator training, captain's meetings, customer service training and negotiating schools, and we do it all in-house. We are making our people better through these classes, and the investment has paid itself back in many ways," he said.

Ed Attanasio

Columnist
Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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