The words “team building” usually bring about sighs and scepticism. Few grown adults are keen on typical trust exercises or being put into teams to build a structure. While these activities are intended to bring a team together and encourage staff to interact less formally, unfortunately they sometimes have the opposite effect.
While a team building day is supposed to introduce a different dynamic to the group and help employees feel refreshed and increase team morale, quite often the exercises have been used so often that the day can feel even longer than the usual ones spent at a desk.
But this doesn’t mean that team building shouldn’t happen, nor does it mean that employers should avoid trying to develop teamwork. It simply means that other forms of team building need to be introduced. An increasingly popular method for this has been forming an office choir. Since Gareth Malone’s The Choir: Sing While You Work was aired on the BBC, a number of companies have taken inspiration from both the TV show and bigger companies such as the Co-Op, Sainsburys and JustEat, who have all used staff choirs in their adverts.
Gemma Francis, pictured left, founder of The Big Sing, a community choir in various locations across the UK, offers five benefits businesses could gain by using singing as an alternative team-building exercise:
Build on communication
To form a successful choir, communicating and listening are key. This often means people who usually do a lot of the talking might suddenly rely on listening to each other when learning their parts of the song. Too often, people come to the office, sit at their desk for eight hours and then go home, with perhaps an hour of communication over lunch or most contact being done via email. Singing as a group could not be further from that and offers people the escape from their desk that they might not have even known they needed.
Becoming part of a choir can be a new experience for many and not everyone will be starting at the same level. People like me are trained for working with amateurs, so no one has to take themselves too seriously. Workplace tensions inevitably arise but singing in a group has a definite feel-good factor.
When I see people singing, I can tell how infectious it is. Learning a new song gets the group talking and perfecting something that a team have been working on for a while leaves everyone with such a positive feeling, it’s great to see people come together. This is totally transferable to the workplace, promoting positive energy as a group inside and outside of the office can be really beneficial.
Encourage continual progress
Quite often if people experience forming a choir as a one-off, during something such as a team building day, they enjoy it enough to look for something similar in their local area. If this is an activity that your employees start doing together, even better!
Create a sense of community
It’s pretty common for people of similar ages and interests to stick together at work and while this isn’t a problem, teams always benefit from interacting a little more with one another. What’s great about using a choir as a team building activity is that it’s not restricted to any age and isn’t catered to any particular kind of person.