silo team building events

I’ve been giving some thought lately to what the most-requested needs for my services are. For almost a decade now, I’ve been producing team building trivia for corporate groups, catering to a range of motivating factors: the desire to boost employee morale, to improve communication and collaboration, to integrate new staff/onboarding, or to merge departments – even entire companies.

But far and away the most commonly stated need office managers, department heads and business owners reach out to me for is for something else: specifically, how to engage employees cross-silo?

Especially in today’s digital workplace, people don’t really cross paths with others whom they don’t immediately work with. I’ve written about my own personal experience with this here, and if you’re reading this blog post then I suspect you’re no stranger to the phenomenon either. People tend to interact with those whom they work with directly, and – well, that’s pretty much it. Yes, employees and managers can all work for the same company, under the same roof (on the same floor, even), and really not intermingle at all over the course of the typical workday.

Think about it, and let me know if this sounds familiar: the sales folks are out in the field, the marketing people are off doing their thing, accounting is in their separate area, the IT folks tend to stay in their cubes in an isolated corner, all while the executive team is locked away in the C-level suite. Sure, there’s mass Emails and the occasional all-company meeting – but really, how often do people work with, or even talk to, people from other departments or work groups? Throw in remote and part-time workers, and the state of affairs looks even more grim.

In short, the modern workplace is highly siloed, and becoming increasingly so every day.

To return to the question I posed to myself at the beginning of this post, how can this be addressed? If somebody is coming to me with this not-so-unique problem, chances are that they have found the situation to be undesirable, untenable, or even unsustainable. It’s easy for folks to simply punch into work each day, focus on their jobs, speak with the small circle of other folks who work in highly similar jobs, and then go home. There is no real consideration given to  the other pieces of this living organism known as “our company,” nor an understanding or appreciation of how each part is critically interconnected to the others. Smart managers who find themselves facing this situation know that this isn’t an optimal environment for efficiency, productivity, and generating high-quality product.

It didn’t always used to be this way. Before computers, people wandered around the office more – they had to, because there was no Email or instant messenger! There is a real value to face time (not the new smartphone version, the “old fashioned” one); familiarity breeds comfort and trust, which is the baseline needed to improve positive workplace skills such as teamwork, communication, collaboration and all of the rest.

And this can only be achieved if the silos are “breached.”

I love it when I get these types of inquiries, because I have something to offer which will genuinely help people to “break out” of their silos at work, and get to know others in the workplace in a unique, fun-filled way. For one thing, the nature of TrivWorks corporate trivia events is that they produce an enjoyable shared experience for the entire room, in real-time. This alone accomplishes several things: you can see everybody you work with at the same time, they are all sharing a memorable moment, and they’re all…happy! This is quite a difference from the typical all-company event, which more often than not is a series of executives lecturing a glossy-eyed audience who aren’t at all present in the moment.

But perhaps even more powerful than the shared positive group experience, is the fact that our events are designed as good-natured team competitions. The benefit of competitive team building activities is that they allow small groups to forge a unique bond, attainable only by engaging in a zero-sum contest with the others in the room. It’s crucial that the competition be lighthearted, and not taken too seriously – however, with our trivia events, teams get to know one another extraordinarily well as they collaborate, whether they win OR lose. That’s what I love about it, and that’s what my clients always tell me afterwards.

Just imagine it: you’ve got a room full of colleagues, who will engage in a competitive group bonding exercise for the office. However, instead of sitting with the same people in their departments whom they see every day – and whom they’d normally be sitting with if this were a standard “all-hands” meeting – they have been strategically seated with others across the organization. Depending on your specific goals, any combinations and permutations are possible here. But I recommend being as thoughtful as possible, because this is such a tremendous opportunity to get intimate groups who don’t typically cross paths to get to know one another extremely well.

After the event is over, it’s important to maintain your new approach to eliminating “silos” in your organization, lest things drift right back to the way they were before. Encourage people to mix it up at social events, even those “all-hand” meetings I’ve picked on above. I can’t reiterate enough the value to your business if you can just get people who don’t usually talk to one another, to do so. Your people will be more open and trusting, leading to better conversations, more transparency, and improved teamwork. This is turn leads to a higher-quality product, improved efficiency, boosted productivity, and enhanced morale – all of which translates to happier clients, and more revenue!

There is no need to stay entrenched in a siloed workplace, and to simply accept the situation for what it is. There are solutions out there, intended to get your people out of their self-imposed restricted areas and work groups, which will make your workplace  – and your business – stronger than ever before!

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