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6 Ways to Build a More Cohesive Team Small but thoughtful initiatives to enhance communication and avert tensions can significantly improve your team's results.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

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As a business owner, a cohesive team of employees is imperative to your success. Team-building activities can help develop trust among your employees, and trust is critical in business because it can make your team more productive and efficient.

Appropriate team-building activities can also establish a stronger bond and ease conflicts between co-workers. This bond can help increase collaboration and communication during daily business interactions.

Here are six ways to proactively build a cohesive team and improve morale.

1. Get out of the office.

If conflicts in the office are an issue with your team, hold your activity in a neutral location. Host a field trip once or twice a year. Find a fun activity and allow your employees to interact with each other as friends rather than co-workers. For example, you could rent a theater and take your team to the movies. Or, plan a trip to a local museum, sports event, or an attraction.

Related: 10 Insights on Building, Motivating and Managing an Exceptional Team

2. Organize a company picnic.

When the weather's nice, plan a business barbecue or picnic at the public park. Cater the event so no one has to volunteer to cook or clean up. Make it a family-friendly event and allow employees to bring their significant others and children. Plan activities for the kids so the adults will have time to chat and get to know each other on a more personal level.

3. Volunteer together.

Give your employees the chance to give back to your community as a group. Coordinate with a local non-profit organization to have your group volunteer. You could build a home through an organization like Habitat for Humanity or volunteer at a local food pantry or pet shelter.

The activity will improve morale and galvanize your team. When you give freely to others, you can't help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and positivity. As an added bonus, offer to match employee donations to the organization for which you volunteer.

Related: 5 Ways to Get Naysayers to Participate in Team Building

4. Hold a professional development seminar.

Invite a speaker to come into the office for a continued learning opportunity. When I conduct seminars in business etiquette, international etiquette, executive presence and presentation skills, I involve the group and encourage participation. I call this "edu-tainment."

As your employees have fun while learning, they'll begin to form bonds and develop deeper professional relationships. Provide lunch and snacks throughout the day to keep your employees' energy up.

5. Make it personal.

There are many professional activities that allow employees to get to know each other personally. Teach your team about themselves and each other through tools that improve interpersonal communication.

Ask an expert in workplace personalities to facilitate a talk about how to communicate more effectively. The DISC personality profile assessment, for example, can reveal why you communicate the way you do and how you can communicate with others more effectively.

6. Start a "lunch and learn" series.

Give employees the opportunity to speak to their co-workers during a "lunch and learn" event. Put a signup sheet in the breakroom and invite your staff to educate the entire team on an aspect of their job or something they're passionate about. Reserve the boardroom for an hour and ask employees to bring lunch from home.

It's a great way for everyone to learn more about each other. As your team practices giving presentations in a low-pressure environment, they'll become more comfortable at public speaking. That's a useful skill for client meetings.

Whatever team building exercises you choose, make it a habit. Whether you decide to host a team activity once a month or once a year, make it a priority. Remember, the quality of your programs is more important than the quantity.

Related: How Entrepreneurs at 10 Cool Startups Spend Their Lunch Hour

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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