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The True ROI of Team Bonding Time: A case for even the most practical leaders

Hilary Jane Grosskopf

For busy leaders, team bonding is often an afterthought that is ignored or postponed due to an ongoing, ever-growing workflow. Team bonding often seems like an unnecessary use of time. However, leaders that underestimate the value of team bonding miss out on powerful benefits that enhance productivity and retention. Here are three reasons team bonding is essential for even the most practical, work-oriented leaders and teams.

1. Positivity fuels Progress

One of the primary responsibilities of a leader is to set the cultural tone of the team. A collaborative team culture, where team members communicate with a positive tone and are supportive of each other, is essential for successful teamwork. In competitive business environments, the leader must pave the way by building a culture of collaboration. Team bonding time is an ideal way for the leader to set the tone through activities that foster positive, transparent communication and celebrate teamwork. When team bonding time is spent acknowledging each others’ strengths and celebrating wins, it serves a positive feedback loop and provides motivation. During team meetings, spend 15 minutes facilitating casual discussion about collective progress and individual wins. Encourage others to participate, share news, and acknowledge each other.

2. Drama Diverts Focus  

Though a positive culture is beneficial for enhancing productivity and morale, what is really at stake if you do not spend dedicated time on team bonding? Many leaders don’t make the correlation between lack of team bonding and team drama. The reality is, when people don’t have time to connect with each other personally, they make time for it. Side conversations that begin as ways to get to know each other quickly become opportunities for venting and spreading drama. Gossip and drama are destructive distractions that cultivate a negative team culture and can even lead to attrition. When the leader takes charge and facilitates positive ways of engaging in discussion, team members have constructive gateways for expression and connection. Team members feel fulfilled and satisfied from connecting casually and don’t have as much time or crave as much time for side conversations. Teams that have regular opportunities to express themselves, talk with each other, and bond are more motivated and focused during work. Facilitate constructive collaboration and avoid organic chaos!

3. Constructive Rest fuels Productivity

Team bonding time provides a valuable opportunity for team members to rejuvenate. Hard-working team members rarely take it upon themselves to take regular breaks or schedule casual bonding time with other team members. When people are given time to step away from the work during the day to pause, reflect, and connect with each other, they return to work with more focus and energy. After a break full of positive energy and exchange of ideas, people often return to work with new solutions as well. Activities like a team hike or team lunch provide a means for team members to step away from the work to connect and rejuvenate. Whether for one hour or a full day, time spent bonding is time well spent that will fuel positive energy and morale. Schedule opportunities for the team to step back from the work, take a breath, and socialize in a casual environment.

Regular opportunities for team bonding improve productivity, engagement, and retention. Next time you postpone or question the value of team-bonding activities, think again! Team bonding does not have to be complicated or awkward. It can be as simple as a 15-minute discussion, an hour-long activity, or a daylong excursion. Whether for one hour each week or a full day each month, team bonding should be a priority. Even the most practical leaders must schedule in team bonding time to shape the culture and lead the team forward.

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Hilary Jane Grosskopf
Hilary Jane Grosskopf is the author of Awake Leadership: A System for Leading with Clarity and Creativity and Awake Ethics: A System for Aligning Your Action with Your Core Intentions. She is a leadership strategist and founder of Awake Leadership Solutions. Her new book, “Awake Apprenticeship” is due out later this year. Hilary Jane Grosskopf is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.