Before you can run a team building exercise, you must make sure everyone understands the ground rules and supports the objectives and ideas you’re about to explore. In a competitive environment, ground rules are critical to keeping everyone on task.
Jason Kulpa, CEO and founder of UE.co, Leadership Strategies for Effective Team Building Activities: Clarify the Ground Rules
Declare yourself the final judge in all matters. Both small and large disagreements will come up. If your team has rarely or never done team building exercises, it could be rough for you as the leader the first few times. Let everyone know you will hear them out, but that you are the final decision-maker. This keeps the team focused on the activity and not competition.
If there will be prizes for winning, be clear on what it takes to win (and what prizes will be awarded). Before starting the exercise, go over the criteria for winning and ask your team to summarize what you just said. Clarifying the parameters allows you the space to hear any emotional undercurrents that might come from a competition resulting in winners.
If there are a lot of rules, write them down where everyone can see them. Displaying the steps the team will take or the rules for winning allows your employees to refer back to them on their own without interrupting the flow. This is a lesson in itself–people are empowered to know what’s going on in their environments and inside the team dynamic.
Never ask, “Do you understand?” because you’ll probably just get a bunch of nods. Most team building exercises have steps, and many have rules. Ask specific questions that invite your listeners to internalize the steps they’re about to take. Make sure you tell them it’s alright to be confused and make mistakes.
See More: Money Saving Tips For Startup
Remain patient throughout the review of the upcoming activity. Clearing up ground rules before you start and getting buy-in from the group gets everyone on the same page. Your main job is to facilitate the activity and make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
If you are a leader pursuing higher education, I encourage you to apply for the Jason Kulpa Leadership Scholarship. This scholarship is designed to support students who have demonstrated exemplary leadership, vision, and passion, so they can continue paving the way for future generations.