5 Tips for Team Building

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Allison Duda
Manager of Inspiration and Operations, DRIVE

Do you struggle with recruitment and retention? Research shows that the median turnover in skilled nursing homes is about 44%, with a cost of several thousand dollars per replacement.How can you address this concern and create an environment where employees perform at their highest level and feel excited to come to work?

Problems with recruitment and retention are often just symptoms of larger concerns, such as low employee engagement, poor communication, or lack of appreciation. Identifying the root cause and creating opportunities to improve is crucial to reshaping your organizational culture and eliminating these nasty symptoms.

Reshaping your community’s culture is not a process that happens overnight.  It requires strong leadership; people who are committed to influencing change and are willing to follow-through despite challenging obstacles.

We use a four-step approach to understand and improve upon your existing organizational culture:

  1. Awaken: Reflect on each person’s contribution to organizational culture
  2. Assess: Review strengths, identify opportunities
  3. Align: Ensure processes support goals
  4. Anchor: Sustain established changes

Identifying opportunities and setting goals is an important first step, but to rid yourself of the high turnover problem, you’ll need to consistently show your team that improvements are actually happening.  Show employees you are serious and this isn’t some “flavor of the month” initiative.  Anchor the changes by celebrating and building on success together.


While there are numerous ways that an organization can anchor changes and build on success, let’s first focus on the power of team building.Team building can be fun and strategic, self-reflective and collaborative.  Exercise your creative muscles while building trust among team members.


At a previous job, I met with my employees privately every month for one-on-one coaching while also holding quarterly team building activities.  I developed trust and built relationships among my team members while honoring their individuality.Every quarter we would plan something different and focus on a different goal.


I once had the team focus an entire session on, “How can we better communicate expectations and company goals.”  The results were astounding! Team members shared more than 20 new ideas each! Several which were rolled out immediately.  Perhaps the most impactful — sharing goals, plans and results during town hall meetings.


Another time, team members were asked to prepare a 10-minute presentation explaining the impact of their work and to share it with the team. Some of the positive outcomes:  Confidence in their own applied knowledge, improved public speaking, ability to communicate clearly about their responsibilities, ideas to collaborate with each other, and the opportunity to highlight their own accomplishments. On top of that, it promoted the sharing of success stories — a personal favorite – when people can learn from each other.

Whenever you plan team building activities, make sure to involve the team in the planning and decision-making process.  It sounds simple, but it is all too often overlooked.

Always remember that team building is about building trust and fostering an environment for collaboration. Create a team of superstars that are proud to come to work and share what a wonderful place it is for patients, residents and staff.

Here are five simple tips to plan your next team building activity:

  1. Set the tone. Team building is supposed to be fun and practical.  If you schedule a “meeting” and check off items that people need to complete, what do you think will happen?
  2. Poll your team for ideas and involve the team in decision making. You can try asking specific questions like, “What organizational goal should we focus on this quarter?” “What is our biggest challenge we need to solve?”
  3. Consider both the activity and the big picture objectives. Going to a baseball game or having a holiday party offsite is great, but these are not true team building activities.  These are team outings.  Team building activities exercise creative muscles with a goal in mind.  Check out our blog about Brain Writing.
  4. Move the location off-site. Moving the team to a different location allows people to step outside the norm and share new ideas. Not to mention, when you stay on site, what happens? Interruptions!  Ask team members for location ideas.
  5. Make sure you incorporate food. This might sound silly, but we all know how important food is in life, so make sure there is some kind of special treat even if it’s a simple bag of candy. People who break bread together share ideas together.

In closing, something to keep in mind.  If your symptoms are at an all-time high, and the root cause can be linked to low morale, lack of trust, or another damaging employee theme, employees may resist team building activities.  Start off slow and pick easy wins.  Remember to build on your successes.


Reprinted with permission of DRIVE (cultureoutcomes.org