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Having the right people in the right place at the right time is one of the great challenges for any organisation.  Just ask Theo Epstein, head of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. Before he led the Cubs to their first major league baseball title in 108 years, he was instrumental in helping the Boston Red Sox break their own 86 year drought. What’s his secret? 
“This is not about me. A great organisation is a thousand little sacrifices when no one is looking – a scout travelling a hundred miles out of their way to see a prospect, the stat people up all night. It takes everyone. If there’s a secret it is to keep deflecting credit and keep from blaming.” 
So how can you encourage your teams to make those sacrifices; to develop a winning chemistry and to be unified by a common purpose? 

1. Take it out of the office

The office is for work. It is where your team comes together to perform their roles and fulfil their professional obligations. If you’re wanting to develop close bonds within your team, then you need to get away from day-to-day distractions or disruptions. 

2. Pack an overnight bag

Better still, stay away for at least one night. Create a variety of structured and unstructured environments for your team to interact; to get to know what makes each other tick – personally and professionally.

3. Accommodate different thinking styles 

The way we pay attention, code and process information (e.g. the way we think) creates and describes our individual perspective of the world. High performing teams are made up of people who think differently but who complement each other by approaching challenges from different perspectives. Understanding our own and other people’s thinking styles is fundamental for any great team building activity.

4. Two’s company

Did you know that the ultimate team size is just two people? According to behavioural scientists, pairs are the simplest and most stable bond in life. So if you want to build trust and chemistry, small teams or groups should simply pair up, but for medium size teams the optimum group size is between 5-9 people and for large teams it is between 11-18 people.

5. Travel back in time

Remember when life was analogue? Travel back in time and ban mobile phones, iPads and laptops. It’s amazing what some 20th Century ‘face-time’ can achieve.

6. Get physical 

Physical team building activities do not require elite athletic abilities, but they demand careful consideration and planning. Get them wrong and there’s no quicker way to alienate or de-motivate.  We love rope courses and archery. Allowing free time for individuals to choose their own small group activities like golf, tennis, swimming or volleyball can also produce great results.

7. Go mental

Not literally; intellectually… Stimulate your team and let them exercise (and stretch) their thinking as a group. More often than not this is when you can unearth some great character and personality traits of your less extroverted team members. 

8. Be creative 

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Visual and performance art can be an incredibly daunting challenge but when confronted as a group it can also provide some of the most lasting bonds (and memories) between team members. 

9. Activities with a heart

Give a dog a home. Make toys for underprivileged children. Cook for the needy. The only limit is your imagination. By doing ‘good’ you can reinforce and embed the values which can make your team great.

10. Make it fun (and rewarding)

Don’t be shy of healthy competition, rivalries or banter as groups vie for a prize. Just don’t go over the top. Make it fun and incorporate rewards that motivate, surprise and which leave your team smiling and laughing – no matter what the result.