Team development is a critical part of any successful team. When done outdoors, there are some terrific (and important) benefits. A growing body of research shows the value of hands-on, in-nature learning to improving attitudes, alleviating stress, and allowing people who learn and lead differently from others a chance to shine.
When you take your team outdoors, you may just find that they have benefited in significant, unexpected ways.
1- Learn the Art of Discovery
Being outside in a new environment makes it easy to learn the art of discovering new things, but how does it help to build your team?
Whether you discover a unique enclave in your hometown, a newfound passion for an adrenaline-pumping sport, or some shared interests with your office mates, getting out of the norm and into a new place helps to put you in a new frame of mind and kick your innate exploratory nature into high gear.
When this exploration is done with your team, it promotes and solidifies bonding, sharpens skills, and gives you a chance to examine the world (or specific situation at hand) from a macro-and micro-level point of view.
2- Gain a Higher Level of Honesty
Honesty—with yourself and others— is vitally important. Your personal life, as well as your work life, should be filled with open and genuine communication. This is where trust is built.
Outdoor team-building activities can be surprisingly useful when it comes to learning how to communicate honestly. Since leaving your cubicle comes with a certain level of discomfort, it tends to force you to be vulnerable and share your worries and fears. When a safe, accepting environment is provided for venting these concerns, people will automatically feel more comfortable opening up.
3- Create a New Relationship
Stepping out from underneath the fluorescent lights can go a long way to helping you see your co-workers less as robots and more as the interesting individuals they are. Outdoor team-building exercises help bridge the gap between the professional and the personal and create opportunities for meaningful relationships to flourish.
Creating bonds between team members is emotional work, but when it’s done in a fun way, it feels natural rather than forced. These relationships can also pay off big time down the road when team members need to work through tough situations together.
4- Focus on the Issues
It’s hard to veer off topic when a problem is placed directly in front of you and you’re expected to solve it as quickly as possible. This scenario plays out frequently during outdoor team-building exercises. The purpose is to show participants that it’s possible (and desirable) to set aside differences of personality and opinion to get the job done right.
Focused teamwork has a way of creating undeniable synergy, especially when an outdoor activity includes a sense of team excitement and accomplishment. Attaining this level of unity and cooperation offers positive outcomes that last well beyond the time team members spend outside.
5- Allow Alignment on Goals
When team members have an identical goal in mind, they become more committed to it. There is no longer any reason to promote personal agendas, only coordinated efforts. To be successful, every voice will need to be heard and each role and responsibility will need to be clarified. Team members are able to successfully execute on collective goals when they learn to self-correct at every turn along the way.
The “me” mentality tends to switch to a “we” mentality after working together to achieve an outdoor team-building challenge.
6- Reach Peak Performance
At the end of an outdoor team-building adventure, your team will find that their overall performance has drastically improved. Communication will flow more freely, opinions will be accounted for, and processes will run more smoothly.
Whether it takes place in a parking lot, on a mountain lake, or up in the trees, such time-tested learning exercises and business simulations will provide your team with personal growth, unique experiences, and fond memories that will last long after you head back to the workplace. When you’re willing to invest in team development, you’re also advancing your team’s level of trust, collaboration, performance, and loyalty to the team and organization.