Trust is the grease that smoothes the course of business. Without it, employees don’t feel comfortable working with one another or cooperating with a manager’s plans. Morale drops and the company pays with increased turnover, and losses in productivity and efficiency. You can turn it around: rebuilding trust repairs morale. Exercises that encourage teamwork and good communication, or that provide memorable experiences all foster trust and boost morale.
Ultimate Team Member
“Inc.” lists three types of trust important to workplaces: contractual, capability and communication trust. Building an ultimate team member uses capability and constructive trust. When employees’ know-how is respected and tapped, capability trust forms. Constructive, truthful communications earn communication trust. To start the exercise, each employee of a four- to eight-member group shares the strengths he can contribute to a team, the others taking notes. Afterward the team merges all the strengths into one ultimate team member, whom the group names, draws and writes a story about. Each group shares their super member with other groups.
Slice and Dice Gauntlet
A large group of employees will enjoy a memorable experience while practicing contractual trust, which blooms when people keep agreements and fulfill expectations. To begin, the majority of employees form a gauntlet by facing each other in two parallel lines, holding their arms outstretched. As a person walks between the lines, the employees of the gauntlet raise their arms to let her pass. This repeats, speed increasing, until the person in between the lines is running the gauntlet.
This exercise requires workers to cooperate as a team while using only nonverbal communication skills. Employees sit in a circle on chairs. The leader tells the group they have been transported to an alien planet. They can no longer speak because the atmosphere doesn’t carry sound. Gravity works differently, too. Only four people at a time can stand, and each person can only stand for ten seconds. To survive, employees must make sure some combination of four are standing, with no one standing for longer than ten seconds.
Blindfolded Assault Course
This partnered exercise calls for real trust, since one of each team of two must wear a blindfold. The blindfolded employee must listen intently to his partner, who must choose his words with care. Before the exercise, someone randomly scatters furniture through the room. Once the room is set up, the pairs split up on opposite sides of the room. One dons the blindfold, and then the other helps her partner navigate the obstacle course using verbal instructions alone. The exercise repeats with the employees switching roles. Afterward, employees should discuss how their communication changed when they were forced to more fully engage in listening and talking.
Sophie Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media. A freelancer for more than 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews.