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What Small Businesses Need to Know About Team Building for the Global Market

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Almost a third of all employees do not like team building exercises.

Small business employees might emit a collective groan when they hear references to team building. By one estimate, almost a third of all employees do not like team building exercises. The lean staff at a small business is often fully-engaged in the company’s operations, and they will dismiss team-building exercises as an unnecessary distraction, arguing they are already a coherent team.

Small business employees whose employers participate in international markets need to rethink this perception. The global competition presents new challenges, and companies that seek to gain a competitive advantage in global markets should consider one or more team-building exercises to address those challenges.

Team building as a growth management tool

Joss and Main, a company that provides an online home décor shopping experience, grew from three to 75 employees within its first year of operations. The stress of putting so many new employees together in such a short time led to conflicts and interpersonal rivalries. The company addressed that stress with a scavenger hunt team building exercises to urge new employees to mingle and to learn more about each other. A small business that expands its staffing in domestic or in global markets can use team building to reduce similar stresses and rivalries.

Global markets and cultural style conflicts

Work Ethic Corporation offers team building services. The organization reports that one of its tech industry clients experienced cultural and style differences with its regional employees during its expansion into Asian markets. The company developed team building exercises with its client to identify its employees’ unique styles and talents and to harness and improve those individual skills in a collaborative environment. That exercise reduced culture and style clashes and paved the way for improved communications and collaboration among the client’s employees.

Encouraging staff to buy into goals

Changes in marketing strategy can meet resistance from employees who have grown accustomed to the status quo. Southern Housing Group, a the United Kingdom not-for-profit housing agency, used team building exercises to communicate new strategies that were needed to meet competitive pressures. Employees who are forced out of comfort zones when management imposes new strategies, and particularly strategies that are aimed at global expansion, will delay or impede the progress of those strategies. Team building can keep employees in their comfort zones as management implements those strategies.

Improving communications

Consultants and specialists almost universally emphasize improved communications as the primary benefit of team building. Technology has brought the process of communication to a level at which everyone can participate in a video conference call across several time zones with the click of a few keystrokes. This simpler communication process, however, has not by itself improved communications. Team building exercises can establish universal communication techniques among all members of a team. Those techniques might include ground rules for asking and answering questions, the importance of sharing critical information, and deadlines and schedules for follow-ups and progress or status reports.

Helping employees to feel valued

The American Psychological Association reports that 93 percent of employees who feel they are valued or appreciated in their workplaces will be motivated to perform at a higher level. A Harvard Business School study reveals that employees who feel connected to their workplaces and who have a sense of camaraderie with fellow employees will be similarly motivated. Companies that expand into a global marketplace will be pressured to reduce costs and increase productivity to meet their new global competition. Employees can lose their sense value in these more competitive environments. Team building can recover and rebuild that sense to keep employees motivated and engaged.

Managing staffs at virtual offices

Small businesses with global operations can have one or more virtual offices at remote geographic locations with employees who work out of their homes or through a mobile technology platform. Remote employees can feel less engaged than their colleagues who are in the office. Team building efforts that maintain open communication lines and that push critical information to remote employees can improve that engagement and keep remote employees from losing focus on a company’s global goals.

Team building to expand staff skills

Global competition can require employees to learn new skills. Rather than turning to generic games or retreats, companies can blend team building and training to impart new knowledge and skills that can help employees deal with global marketing issues. Classes on language skills or training on new products and group site visits are all effective for this purpose.

The clichéd “trust falls” and question-and-answer games that were arguably the first generation of team-building exercises have given way to more sophisticated and intelligent techniques that employees will not easily dismiss. A small business that ignores these techniques is at a disadvantage against competitors that embrace team building as a means to improve their global competitive stance. A small business which senses that something is amiss among its employees can quickly identify the problem and resolve it with modern and effective team building strategies.


Photo credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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