Last week my organization conducted our annual all-company meeting, and for the first time in a few years, we were able to have a face to face gathering. Prior to the all-company meeting, I held a team-building event for my department, Client Services. Nearly 50 people from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Singapore gathered in Old Town San Diego for an “Amazing Race” kind of scavenger hunt that built teamwork, relationships, communication skills, and trust.
My experiences last week reminded me of the critical importance of face to face interactions to build a successful team. The prevalence and ease of use of video-conferencing technologies, webcams, and social media applications has caused many leaders and organizations to question the need for in-person meetings. Those are fantastic tools for many business meeting needs, but nothing can replace the value of “face time,” those personal interactions that form the cohesiveness and trust necessary for high-performing teams.
Regular face time allows for the building of personal rapport and trust at a faster pace than what can be accomplished in virtual mediums. Body language, facial expressions, speech patterns, and hand gestures can only be fully appreciated when observed in person. It also allows preconceptions about relationships to be broken down. It’s easy to form judgments about others when you only interact with them via electronic communications, but when you’re able to spend time together, you form a more personal and deeper relationship that provides a deeper level of understanding of each others’ behavior.
The deepening of relationships through in-person meetings provides a greater level of accountability among team members. It’s much harder to let someone down when you know them on a personal level versus a person you’ve only interacted with via email or the phone. Humans are social creatures and face time allows us to form complex social bonds that transcend simple mechanical work relationships. Learning about a teammate’s family background, hobbies, values, likes and dislikes, creates a more intimate, transparent relationship that greatly enhances teamwork. Perhaps most importantly, face to face meetings allows for the expression of fun and humor in a much richer setting than via technology. Fun is a dynamic condition created magically through personal interactions in a specific place and time that can only occur when people are gathered together. I believe a team that plays together is one that stays together.
Don’t neglect the opportunity to gather your team together for a face to face meeting or team outing. You’ll reinforce the important norms and values of your team’s culture and provide the opportunity for your team members to build higher levels of trust and commitment with each other.
Thanks for this great reminder!
Thanks for your comments Jamie!
Right on, Randy! This is a key component to courageous leadership. It takes work – budgeting, planning, creating opportunities for building relationships on purpose. A large percentage of people leaders are not willing to put in the hours, days even, of work that goes into these in-person events and opportunities for team building. Good for you for investing the sweat equity. No doubt your team will reap a significant advantage; your ROI.
Right on Randy! This is a key element of courageous leadership, building relationships on purpose. It takes work – budgeting, planning, creating engaging activies. It’s easier to just maintain status quo. But these in-person opportunities for team and relationship building are a huge investment that pay off during and soon after the event is over. Good for you for investing in your team, sending a message that they matter, that you are willing to invest in them. No doubt you all quickly began to enjoy positive results from this off-site experience.
Hi Beth! You’re right, it does take a lot of work but the benefits are SOOO worth it. Thanks for stopping by and offering your insight.
Hi Randy. I’m just sitting down to see what’s new in the blogosphere after spending the night with a portion of my team at a Panther’s hockey game. It’s amazing how powerful relationship building can be when it takes place face to face. It is even more effective when it happens on neutral ground away from the office. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how much more of a connection I am able to make when I meet someone in person. We may have talked on the phone or e-mailed in the past but face to face takes things to an entirely new place.
Thanks for your comments Frank! Getting out of the office is key. I mentioned to my wife that we accomplished so much more than if we had sat in a conference room all day.
Hope you had fun at the hockey game!
Sent via mobile device. Please excuse any typos.
Great post Randy. It is also much harder to be short with people when you know them on a personal level. Face to face meetings tend to cut down on the “virtual” bickering that can take place in email and conference calls.
You’re right! Making that personal connection reduces a lot of the pettiness that occurs in virtual relationships.
Thanks for your comments!
Love this Randy. Face to face is the BEST way to connect and form real, true relationships. Love that “A team that plays together, stays together” Awesome. It’s really amazing how “social media” and technology has really made us “less social”. What I mean is, we are losing the ability to “connect” via face to face, one on one, even over the phone. Especially the younger generation. Its all about texting and facebook. hello ? How about a real conversation ? Anyway, I digress. Ha. Thanks again for this great post. Your last paragraph is great advice for all companies and CEO’s ;
“Don’t neglect the opportunity to gather your team together for a face to face meeting or team outing. You’ll reinforce the important norms and values of your team’s culture and provide the opportunity for your team members to build higher levels of trust and commitment with each other”
Hello Al. You make a good point that much of our “social” media has caused us to be less social in reality. We get content with substituting a virtual reality for the true physical reality.
I appreciate your comments. Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Thanks Randy, great stuff. Good point on virtual bickering, I find some people are more apt to be ‘brave’ when their behind the key board than they are in person. Sort of like what I’m doing right now :-). Relationship building is heaviliy influenced on whether it’s happening in ‘real time’. Only word of caution when bringing all levels of an organization together: ensure it’s genuine and status flat as possible.
Anyway, really enjoy your blogs, keep them coming!
Hi Murray. Keeping the team gathering genuine and everyone on the same level is important. You don’t want to waste that time on fostering team or organizational politics.
I’m glad you found this article helpful. Thanks for offering your comments!