As the digital workspace continues to evolve, so does the need for building strong, cohesive virtual teams. Having exceptional team members is the cornerstone of any high-performing team, virtual or otherwise.
Continuing from where we left off in Part 1, we delve deeper into team building activities…
Qualities of Exceptional Team Members (and Activities to Foster them)
Exceptional team members don't just do what they're asked to do; they go the extra mile. They are proactive, anticipating tasks, and taking action.
Activity: "Innovation Challenge"
Objective: To encourage initiative and innovative thinking among team members.
Materials Needed: Pen, paper, and a space for team members to present their ideas.
Announce the Innovation Challenge to your team, providing a relevant theme or problem they must solve. This could be a real-life problem the team or company is facing or a hypothetical situation.
Ask team members to develop an innovative solution or improvement individually or in small groups. They should consider all aspects of implementation, including costs, resources, and timeline.
Set a deadline for the task, providing ample time for idea development. This could range from a few days to a week, depending on the complexity of the challenge.
Once the deadline arrives, each individual or group presents their solution to the rest of the team. They should explain their thought process, how the solution works, and why they believe it's the best approach.
After all presentations, facilitate a team discussion about the different solutions. Encourage questions, comments, and constructive feedback.
Optionally, you could decide on a winning idea based on feasibility, innovation, and effectiveness. Recognizing the winning idea helps incentivize initiative and creativity further.
The Innovation Challenge encourages team members to show initiative, think outside the box, and proactively contribute to problem-solving. By giving them the autonomy to develop and propose their solutions, you're fostering a culture of innovation and proactive behavior.
Challenges and obstacles are inevitable in any project. The ability to navigate these hurdles through effective problem-solving skills is a defining quality of an exceptional team member.
Activity: "Escape Room Challenge"
Objective: To enhance problem-solving skills and promote collaborative solution finding.
Materials Needed: A virtual or physical "escape room" setup. You can either use an online platform that provides virtual escape room experiences or create a physical escape room scenario using various puzzles, clues, and challenges.
Divide your team into small groups. Each group will be tasked to solve a series of problems to "escape" from a locked room.
Present each group with the same set of puzzles or challenges. These should be designed to mimic real-world problems they might encounter during projects. For instance, puzzles could be about allocating resources effectively, handling conflicting priorities, or troubleshooting technical issues.
The teams must work together to solve each puzzle, with the goal of escaping the room as quickly as possible.
Monitor the teams' progress, and be available to provide hints if they get stuck. However, aim to let the teams figure out the solutions on their own as much as possible.
Once all teams have completed the challenge, facilitate a debrief session. Ask each team to share their problem-solving strategies and how they collaborated to find solutions.
Discuss the relevance of the challenges to real-world project issues and how the skills practiced during the game can be applied in their day-to-day work.
This exercise pushes teams to think creatively, strategize, and collaborate under pressure, closely resembling the dynamics of problem-solving in a real-world work environment. It's an engaging, fun way to enhance problem-solving skills and foster a spirit of teamwork.
Respect forms the basis of a harmonious team environment. It's about valuing each member's ideas, opinions, and contributions.
Activity: "Culture Exchange Fair"
Objective: To foster a culture of respect for diverse perspectives, ideas, and backgrounds, promoting a more inclusive and empathetic team environment.
Materials Needed: Digital platform for presentations (like Zoom or Microsoft Teams), presentation materials, and a predetermined schedule.
Divide the team into small groups or pairs, and assign each group a different culture, viewpoint, or lifestyle different from their own. This could range from a different country's culture, a specific community's lifestyle, or even different departments within the organization.
Each group will then research their assigned topic and prepare a presentation showcasing their findings. The presentation should cover aspects like unique customs, beliefs, way of life, work habits, and how these aspects can add value to the team's work or influence their perspective positively.
Schedule a "Culture Exchange Fair" day where each group presents their findings to the rest of the team. Encourage interactive sessions with questions and discussions.
Once all presentations are done, facilitate a debriefing session. Discuss the importance of respect and empathy for diverse viewpoints in a team environment. Encourage team members to share their learnings and how they will apply these learnings to their work relationships and collaborations.
This activity promotes the understanding and appreciation of diversity, fostering a culture of respect within the team. It can help break stereotypes, bridge cultural gaps, and highlight the importance of respecting everyone's ideas and contributions, irrespective of their background or viewpoints.
The desire to continuously learn and evolve is a crucial quality in today's ever-changing professional landscape.
Activity: "Learning Circle"
Objective: To cultivate a culture of continuous learning and professional growth within the team. This activity encourages team members to share their knowledge, learn from each other, and expand their skills.
Materials Needed: Video conferencing platform (like Zoom or Microsoft Teams), schedule for sharing sessions.
At the start of each month, ask each team member to choose a topic they would like to learn more about. The topic could be directly related to their role, a new technology trend, or even a soft skill like time management or emotional intelligence.
Team members then have one month to learn about their chosen topic. They can take online courses, read books or articles, watch TED talks, or find other resources to expand their knowledge.
At the end of the month, schedule a "Learning Circle" meeting. Each team member will present a brief summary of what they've learned, why it's important, and how it can be applied to their role or team dynamics.
After each presentation, open up the floor for discussion and questions. This can lead to deeper insights and collective learning.
Encourage team members to incorporate their learnings into their daily work routine.
By encouraging ongoing learning and knowledge sharing, you're not only fostering personal development but also strengthening team collaboration. Team members will feel more engaged and motivated as they see the practical applications of their new skills, and the entire team benefits from the collective knowledge growth.
A supportive team member stands by their team, offering help when needed and appreciating others' efforts. They contribute to building a positive and healthy team environment.
Activity: "Support Chain"
Objective: To foster a supportive work environment where team members actively help and back each other up. This activity encourages empathy, supportiveness, and a deeper understanding of each other's roles and challenges.
Materials Needed: Video conferencing platform (like Zoom or Microsoft Teams), or physical meeting space for in-person teams, pen and paper for each participant.
Divide the team into pairs. If the team size is odd, create one trio. Each pair/trio will arrange a time to meet separately from the rest of the team.
During the meeting, each person takes turns to talk about a current work-related challenge they are facing. This could be a project hurdle, a skill they are trying to develop, a time-management issue, etc. The speaker has 5 minutes to explain their challenge.
The listener's job is to actively listen, understand the problem, and then spend another 5 minutes brainstorming ways they might be able to offer support, whether through sharing their own experiences, offering to help brainstorm solutions, or committing to lending a hand with a specific task.
Once all pairs/trios have met and discussed their challenges, the team comes back together. Each team member briefly shares what challenge they're facing and how their partner has offered to support them.
Finally, these supportive actions should be followed up in the coming weeks, fostering a culture of support, collaboration, and mutual problem-solving.
This exercise not only helps build support networks within the team but also encourages members to understand and empathize with the challenges their peers face, fostering a supportive and understanding team culture.
Fostering Exceptional Team Members with Employee Performance Monitoring Systems
As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, businesses face the challenge of fostering efficient, engaged, and dedicated team members. Insightful, with its robust employee tracking system, can help.
Insightful's remote worker monitoring software is purposefully crafted to enhance team performance and productivity. It equips managers with the capacity to monitor remotely, ensuring that team members remain focused on their tasks throughout work hours.
Insightful’s monitoring software presents a holistic view of an employee's workday. It meticulously documents and analyzes various facets such as login/logout times, active/idle times, and usage of applications and websites. This thorough analysis offers deep insights into employee behavior and productivity patterns, enabling managers to monitor remotely with precision.
Insightful goes beyond simple tools for work from home. It serves as a powerful ally for businesses, empowering them to foster superior, more productive, and engaged team members, despite the challenges of the work-from-home paradigm.