The Best Way to Motivate Employees: 5 Excellent Team Building Techniques

team building techniques

Motivated employees is a great competitive advantage that cannot be easily copied. Appreciating the fact and noting huge expenses associated with a high turnover, modern companies do strive to motivate employees using a wide range of team building techniques.

You may be wondering,

“Why does it happen then that some companies offering competitive salary and investing a little fortune into regular team building activities still fail to motivate their employees?”

The truth is,

Not all team building techniques promote staff motivation. What’s more, some team building activities may, on the contrary, promote competitiveness and creation of clique groups within a team.

If you are looking for the best way to motivate employees, consider using the following 5 team building techniques with proven efficiency.

1. Be Flexible on the Employee’s Roles

A strong team is the one where everyone can use their own strengths to achieve a common goal. Still, telling your team to use their best strengths is not enough here.

First, your employees should know their strengths.

Indeed, people find it very hard to define what kind of personalities they are and what they are unique about. Even if they do, they may wrongly focus on the weaknesses failing to recognise their own strengths. Thus, it is better to use a reliable and valid method to identify core strengths of everyone on your team.

Second, the use of varying strengths requires role flexibility.

The requirement to follow a strictly-defined procedure does not let employees experiment and use their unique strengths to achieve goals their own way. Micro management and limited flexibility is only recommended in the periods of crises and when introducing an employee to a new role or position. In other situations, lack of flexibility makes employees unmotivated and even discouraged.

The direct effect of job flexibility on employees’ motivation and performance has been confirmed in numerous studies. A recent research names flexibility “a consistent non-financial motivation” that helps to establish a positive attitude and make employees focus on achieving the organisational goals.

A good reason to be flexible on the roles of everyone in the team, itsn’t?

2. Use Team Building Activities the Right Way

We know companies where HR departments spend several days inventing brand new team building activities and keep to a busy team building schedule. Does is always have a good result?


Think about the quality, not quantity of your team building activities. Remember that the measure of success is not the number of likes on the photos from a team building event or doing something no one has ever done before; it’s an increase in the organisational performance and employees satisfaction rate.

Thus, when looking for a motivating team building activity, choose the activity that:

  • helps employees reveal their own strengths and recognize the strength of their coworkers;
  • promotes collaboration, not competitiveness within the team;
  • helps to embrace workplace diversity.


Some winning team building activities include finding creative solutions to the invented problem; quests; exercises that ask the team to produce the whole based on partial knowledge or information they receive from one member of the team; hosting a talents’ day or a strengths team meeting, and similar.

An interesting idea is to invite team members to ask just one question that will help them select someone for babysitting, marriage, presidency, driving them home, whatsoever. Even such a simple team building exercise can help employees reveal their core values and connect to each other.

3. Create the Environment that Fosters Positive Communication

Positive communication with colleagues is another key factor for staff motivation. Forming good relationships with coworkers, employees become more satisfied with their work and less likely to leave. What is more, they find it easier to approach others with any questions or ideas they might have.

The good news is that you can affect it to.

One of the team building techniques that promotes positive communication and, thus, employee motivation is creating the environment nurturing informal communication.

For example, it is important to have a cozy kitchen or at least a cozy cooler corner where employees will have a small talk on the daily basis. You can also initiate a “Breakfast with the President Program”, as The Human Resources Department of Nations Healthcare did. Eating together gives a great chance for discussing recent company news and sharing personal stories in an relaxed atmosphere that does not even look like ‘team building’.

You may also leverage modern technology and social media: people spend much time reading and reacting to funny stuff, news and insights their friends share online. Why not use this for team building? Create an informal chat for sharing funny pictures and stories or establish “It made my day” rubric.

Acting upon some news with a little relevant present or timely help can double the motivation. Just imagine you told that a broken part in your bike made your day, and the company presents it to you the following one!

Would you ever let down the company like that?

4. Keep a Strong Focus on Strengths and Contributions

Another team building technique to use for motivation in the workplace is open recognition of strengths and contributions of each member on the team.

It often happens that employees are clearly communicated their mistakes or omissions. They may even get some fines for not doing their work the right way. At the same time, success is attributed to the team or organisation at large.

A truly discouraging situation, isn’t it?

An old rule, “Correct in private, praise in public” should be the guiding principle of any leader wishing to motivate employees and build a culture of confidence and success.

Thus, organise celebrations of success and communicate wins on your company meetings. Set up a practice to read out customer’s feedback to all the team emphasizing that each and every member earned it. Issue branded “thank you” notes encouraging employees to give the notes to those who helped them with their work or just showed support and encouragement. This will make employees feel valued and will teach them to communicate appreciation too.

If praising and showing encouragement to other people is not your core strength (you may take a HIGH5 test to know for sure), balance your team inviting a person with such a strength on your team.

5. Involve Employees in Decision Making

Another team building technique that improves staff motivation is involving employees in decision making.

Often, companies do extensive market research to learn opinions and pains of their customers forgetting to consult the opinions of their employees, important stakeholders of each organisation.

It shouldn’t be so.

Of course, what we mean here is not to leave the development of business strategy to the staff. Still, you may engage employees in the discussion of organisational rules and job-specific goals. Employees assume more responsibility for keeping the rules they have jointly created and working towards the goals they have inspired or at least agreed with. It also makes employees less likely to oppose change.

If a decision might not be happily received by the staff, but needs to be taken anyway – like moving to another office – still try to launch a discussion of this change. Explain your reasons. Ask the staff what will facilitate the change for them. Make them understand you value their opinion and their emotions even though you cannot change the decisions.

In the context of diverse organizations and organizational cultures, there is no one proven recipe for team building. Yet, each of the 5 team building techniques we have suggested here has proven results validated by research and experience, so there are no reasons to think they are not for you. Whatever technique you choose to use, remember that motivating your employees is not a one-day campaign, it’s a process, which is as continuous as doing business itself.

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