Some people love team-building exercises, but lots of professionals don’t. In Carol’s recent post on the Nextiva blog, “Practical Team Building That Works,” she suggests some ways that your small business can create effective teams. Carol begins:

An associate of mine tells the story of a former employer that sent the whole company out to a fancy resort so that they could, among other things, form teams that built boats out of Styrofoam. All that she learned from the exercise was that computer engineer skills don’t translate to practical boat design — and that great working relationships are not necessarily built based on a few days of manufactured fun outside of the office.

I’m not discounting the possibility that professionally-designed team-building activities can successfully build close ties. But, it’s just as possible that a more practical approach that’s directly connected to the actual work can be very effective.

Why force team building?

People are social animals by nature. Sometimes, however, they will actually fight their nature when forced into artificial team-building activities. Instead, try to make meetings more sociable, as formal business meetings can intimidate people who are not comfortable sharing ideas outside of their immediate group. Try to hold meetings in unusual locations or spaces. This can be a room with comfy chairs instead of a formal conference room. Even a restaurant provides a setting for some informal chatter and relationship building before diving into agendas.

Arrange inter-departmental activities.

Company departments commonly work in their own vacuums. They work together exclusively and they typically sit in the lunch room in tightly-knit groups. To develop a true team, create activities that will break down department walls. Cross-functional team members typically share new perspectives. This gives everyone a wider viewpoint that benefits every project.

You can read the rest of the post here.