In the workplace, building community has its apparent benefits: Positive relationships create space for more efficiency, better team-work and greater loyalty amongst employees. But corporate events too often ignore the power of collaboration and community-building as tools for – and indicators of – a successful event. What makes connection a key component of event-planning? The answer is simple: Connection is empowering.
Though some of us are social butterflies and others, people-watchers and introverts, we are all social beings in the sense that our lives are contextualised by social dynamics and institutions. That is, no matter how much we like our alone time, the world as we know it operates on a social level. We gravitate towards people – especially like-minded ones – and we feed off of the energies and actions of our peers.
There may be a thousand explanations for our social natures, but one in particular might change the way you structure your next corporate event, and even your workplace itself: Building community creates a net of support and resources that allows for potential-driven action. In other words, community provides space for individuals to reach beyond their comfort levels, take risks and actually achieve more, given a broader toolset and support system.
By creating spaces for social connection in the workplace, leaders embrace an opportunity to tap into the natural social inclinations that empower individuals to do more and be more. As a leader, you can integrate collaborative practices into the existing structure of your workplace in small ways that have a great impact on your team. You might:
- Start meetings by passing the torch. Begin your next meeting by posing a question: Does anyone have an update they’d like to share with us? What should we address first today? Or spend a few minutes getting everyone talking: I’d like everyone to share one vision for what this organisation should strive to be.
- Create micro-systems of checks and balances. Allocate projects to pairs and small groups, allowing them each to take charge of one aspect of a project while working as one unit of equal and collaborating minds.
- Rearrange furniture, desks and group seating areas to encourage conversation and fluid interactions. Integrate common spaces into main work areas, rather than separating them completely. Don’t be afraid to blur the line between break-time and work-time.
Shaping a collaborative environment can also be a collaborative effort in itself! Ask your team members how they would like their space to be, their meetings to run, their voices to be heard. Small steps like these will empower employees to give more to your organisation because they will have more to give.
Corporate events and activity days are great ways to develop connections amongst peers. Taking your team outside of the usual professional context and encouraging interpersonal growth is a powerful tool – its beneficial byproducts flowing back into the workplace after the event has passed. New spaces and settings allow people to open up in new ways, revealing sides of themselves that may have been previously overshadowed or unnoticed in the workplace environment.
It’s also important to celebrate trials and successes as a group, as a reminder to your team that you’ve done it as a group. The surest way to limit someone’s potential is to not acknowledge their personal contributions to a broader goal. In the same vein, by highlighting collaboration as an integral reason for your organisation’s achievements, you reassure individuals of their value and encourage team members to continue working together, supporting one another and reaching new heights.
Corporate celebrations and team-building activities also touch back on the social nature of people. By associating work with fun events and feelings of affirmation, employees will feel more genuinely motivated – and equipped – to bring more to the table, when Monday comes around.
Infuse your next corporate event with collaboration in little ways like these:
- Be an ambassador of connection. Introduce like-minded people and individuals who you feel might benefit from knowing one another. Reach out to folks who you have yet to connect with yourself, and initiate mindful conversations with them.
- Design the space so that the environment facilitates fluidity and movement. Simple arrangements like tall tables and no seats removes the pressure for event-goers to commit to a seating area; interactive decorations and games provide guests with icebreakers and conversation pieces.
Why Empowerment Is the Key
We all have unique strengths and talents, and we all approach life with a particular perspective. Too often, the cog-in-the-machine mentality spoils our approach to work and our relationship with the corporate environment. Too often, people are overlooked as workers, interpreted as the positions they hold and not as complex, thinking, feeling human beings.
Empowerment changes all of that. Empowering individuals to utilise their skill-set and contribute their ideas provides fuel for a hungry fire. Control it or ignore it too much, and you’ll put it out.
Empowering your team members means providing them with the resources and support they need to flourish. Empowering event-goers means creating space for the collaboration and community-building that naturally produce useful resources and a nurturing web of support – for participants, by participants.
By encouraging collaboration, building supportive spaces and affirming your team members through united celebration, you can be an empowering leader and achieve powerful and long-lasting results.
This article was written by Paul Morris from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.