1. Develop Your Own Ropes Course
It is no surprise that team building ropes courses are becoming increasingly popular. The opportunity to take the day off from a typical day at work and take your team outdoors where they will test their limits and learn how to depend on one another sounds enticing, innovative, and fun. However, this team building approach quickly starts losing its appeal when you begin to add up the costs. A day’s salary for the entire team, closing the office, tickets to the ropes course, and lunches are just a few of the expected expenses. Bypass all the costs but keep the excitement and fun by making your own makeshift ropes course at the office.
Try out the “Mission Impossible” team building activity. All you need is long ropes (one for each member plus an extra), bungee cords, and a bucket filled with some water. Make a large circle with one rope and place the bucket in the middle. Tell the team that they must remove the toxic waste water from the middle of the lazer-filled circle using only the extra ropes and bungee cords. Anyone who gets a body part inside the circle gets that part “lazered-off” and they must continue the challenge without that arm or leg. The goal is for the team to connect the bungee cords to form a circle and then attach the extra ropes around the circle bungee cord so that each member holds a rope. Everyone spreads out around the outside of the circle so that the bungee cords stretches to wrap around the bucket. Once the bungee cord is around the bucket they can loosen the cord and lift the bucket out of the circle. After they accomplish the mission, discuss what they did right and what they stumbled on with an emphasis on communication and teamwork. A great “ropes course” experience for about $10 and just 30 minutes.
2. Provide In-House Simulations
A lot of an employee’s work is based on on-the-job training. However, learning-while-doing can lead to costly mistakes and in some instances these mistakes are costs that organizations can’t bear. Instead of having a trial-and-error approach while learning the tasks on-the-job, provide a paper-and-pencil based simulation. Develop a brief scenario of a critical incident that has previously occurred at the organization but don’t include the solution. Ask the employee what they would do in that situation and why. The key is to understand their thought process and actions. Make it more realistic by weaving several stories into a full-day at the job. After the simulation, provide feedback on how he or she did. Take the extra step to tie the employee’s actions to the company mission and values. This is an effective training experience, which requires little effort.
3. Reach out to a Local University
Seminars and workshops are beneficial for developing employees at all stages. Unfortunately, the cost of bringing an outside expert to speak can sometimes come with a hefty price. Another issue is the expense of coordination with the speaker and conflicting organizational events. Instead, bring down the costs by reaching out to a local university. Graduate students nearing the end of their studies are eager to gain experience to put on their resume and they know all the up-to-date knowledge in the field. They might not be experts in applying it but they know more than the average person on the theory and science. Build a relationship with the local university programs by offering speaking opportunities as a brown bag lunch activity. The soon-to-graduate Doctoral student can gain experience dealing with a local business and the employees learn about the latest technologies, theories, or concepts. This is free and beneficial for both parties!
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