The words 'team building' usually bring sighs and scepticism. Few 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, help employees feel refreshed and increase team morale, some exercises have been used so often that the day can feel even longer those 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 businesses such as the Co-Op, Sainsbury's and JustEat, who have all used staff choirs in their adverts.
Singing as an alternative team-building exercise offers several benefits:
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 done via email. Singing as a group 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.
Singing is infectious. Learning a new song gets the group talking, and perfecting something that they've 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 a team-building day for example, they enjoy it enough to look for something similar in their local area. If this is an activity 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. While this isn’t a problem, teams always benefit from interacting 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 or particular kind of person.
Gemma Francis is founder of The Big Sing, a community choir in various locations across the UK