It can be hard to pin down one universal thing to bring a team closer but one thing is for sure; the more unity a team feels the more likely they are to take pride in what they do.
The morale and mental cohesion of a crew can have a strong positive impact not only on a feeling of safety but also on the safety of the workplace itself.
Specifically when working on construction or industrial sites with serious hazards a strong team can be essential.
Safety in Numbers
Numbers can count negatively toward safety, this we can see obviously. But with the right direction and an environment that allows for people to feel safe, safety will improve drastically.
If a worker feels like they are a part of a team they will be more likely to keep a safe work space as well as look out for their fellow worker.
Methods to improve team mentality
So how does this feeling of comradery grow? How do we foster a strong sense of community in our workplaces?
Here are some general tips for how to treat co-workers or especially for those with authority to treat those they are in charge of:
Be sure to ask how they are doing
Learn about their personal lives and interests
Keep a good sense of humor
Be understanding that people make mistakes and allow them to fix their mistakes or even help them
Thank them for their work
Celebrate a job well done as a team
Point out areas the team can improve on
Point out things they are doing really well
Allow space for them to express concern and if possible take action on those concerns
There are also some important things to avoid which prevent a solid crew from feeling like a team.
Make positive learning opportunities out of mistakes
Be sure to willingly admit mistakes to help dissuade feelings of guilt around mistakes.
If someone feels they are unable to admit their mistakes due to severe consequences they may try to hide errors in a way that could be disastrous.
A positive team works better
Having a positive team mentality can improve the following areas:
perseverance on hard jobs
willingness to help each other.
Leadership is key
It is up to every good boss or supervisor to make their team feel that they are in this together to complete a project none of them could do on their own.
Here are a few quick team building exercises you can do:
1 Tag Team Game
Time Required: 20-30 minutes
This adapting exercise requires just a few simple tools, which include large sheets of paper, writing paper, pens, and markers. In this exercise, participants are broken up into groups of 4-8 people and instructed to share with their group their individual strengths and the positive attributes they feel would lend to the success of their group. They are to write these strengths and attributes down on a piece of paper. After their group discussion, each team will be given one large sheet of paper, writing paper, markers, and a pen. The groups should then be instructed to make the "ultimate team member" by combining each team member’s strengths and positive attributes into one imaginary person. This “person” should also receive a name, have a picture drawn of them, and have their different attributes labeled. The group should also write a story about this person, highlighting all of the things their imaginary person can do with all of their amazing characteristics. At the end of the exercise, each group should share their person with the group and read the accompanying story. This exercise will help coworkers adapt to weakness they feel they or a team member may have by understanding that as a group, they are capable of having more strengths and positive attributes then they would have working solo.
2 Paper and Straws Game
Time Required: 15 minutes
This planning game is ideal for small groups and only requires drinking straws and some paper. The group leader needs to draw a large circle on a large piece of paper with concentric circles within it. Then, each circle must be assigned a score, with the biggest score being saved for the smallest, middle circle. This paper is taped onto the middle of a large desk. Then, each participant must gather around the table and be given a drinking straw. The group leader will make dime-sized balls by wadding up bits of paper. It is up to the group leader how many balls will be in play. The participants must blow into their drinking straws to push the balls around. It sounds easy, but as more balls come into play, the participants must plan with their coworkers how they will push balls into high-scoring sections without moving balls that are already in place. This may require re-positioning themselves in different locations around the table or having different players blow in different directions; it’s up to the participants to create their plan of attack. The group leader can end the game once they’ve reached a specific score or once each ball is in the middle. These simple team building exercises helps coworkers work together to create and follow through with a plan and it also encourages them to communicate.
3 Mine Field
Time Required: 20-30 minutes
This trust exercise requires some setting up before it can be executed. It also requires a large, open area such as a room without furniture or an empty parking lot. The leader must distribute "mines," which they place haphazardly around the area. These “mines” can be balls, bowling pins, cones, etc. This exercise gives coworkers a chance to work on their relationships and trust issues, which is why they are paired into teams of two. One team member will be blindfolded and cannot talk and the other can see and talk, but cannot enter the field or touch their blindfolded teammate. The challenge requires each blind-folded person to walk from one side of the field to the other, avoiding the mines by listening to the verbal instructions of their partners. Penalties can be put in place for each time a blindfolded person hits a mine, but the real idea behind the game is to get the team members to trust their partner’s directions and to teach them to communicate in a more effective way.
4 Eye Contact
Time Required: 5 minutes
This trust exercise requires no special equipment, just an even number of participants. Making eye contact is sometimes difficult for people, as it requires a certain amount of trust and respect. Some people avoid it, while others simply aren’t very good at it; they make look away often or appear awkward or uncomfortable, sometimes fidgeting with other objects. This exercise, though simple, can help coworkers become more comfortable and trusting of each other through the practicing of eye contact. For this activity, have people group into pairs and stand facing each other. The idea is to have them stare into their partner’s eyes for at least 60 seconds. Neither participant should be wearing glasses or sunglasses of any kind. There may be some giggles at first, as it can feel somewhat awkward during the first try, but as participants get the hang of it, it should become easier for them to make eye contact for prolonged amounts of time.
5 Willow in the Wind
Time Required: 20 minutes
This particular trust building exercise goes by different names, but usually illustrates the same idea. This exercise is best suited for coworkers who already know each other fairly well. One participant must volunteer or be chosen to be the “willow.” The willow must stand in the middle of a group with their eyes closed, their feet together, and body upright. They will perform a series of “trust leans” against the other participants, whose job is to hold up the willow and pass them around without allowing them to fall or feel frightened as if they’re going to fall. Before beginning, the instructor should discuss “spotting” techniques to all participants. Those who are not the willow must have one foot in front of the other, have their arms outstretched, elbows locked, and fingers loose, as well as be ready and alert. This will ensure that they will successfully pass the willow around without any troubles. Various co-workers can take turns being the willow. This technique helps coworkers establish and build trust with each other in an open, fun environment.
Find more activities and resources here.