How Learning New Skills Can Boost Team Motivation

There is an old adage about how all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and for many employees, it’s a very accurate observation. But research now shows that learning new skills can boost team motivation dramatically.

It’s no secret that work can become monotonous, leaving some employees feeling like a hamster on a wheel. A common reaction is to put their head down and just get through the day. Motivation is low, and with it a variety of issues that can impact negatively on employee performance.

Motivation is a key element in business success, keeping production levels up, creativity and innovation flowing and, of course, workplace relationships on a positive vibe. In fact, research in the US reveals that disengaged employees – those who feel least interested, and therefore are least motivated – can cost businesses between $450 and $550 billion in reduced productivity every year. Keeping people at work motivated is pretty important.

The trick is finding ways to achieve this. In the modern working environment, people need more than a pat on the back to feel motivated; they need a fresh challenge, a new perspective, a testing but constructive activity that requires imagination. To boost team motivation, therefore, team development activities that entail deep thinking as much as collaboration are needed.

New Experiences Can Motivate

Writing in the Scientific American, behavioral therapist Andrea Kuszewski explains how taking on new challenges is a critical part of developing intelligence, but it also motivates us because the process naturally rewards us.

“ triggers dopamine(the reward drug) , which not only kicks motivation into high gear“, she writes, “it stimulates neurogenesis—the creation of new neurons—and prepares your brain for learning. All you need to do is feed the hunger.”

In essence, it underlines our natural drive to grow as individuals, and the importance overcoming new challenges plays in our view of ourselves.

Strangely, the more successful we are the less willing we are to gamble on that success by trying new ways or experimenting. So, they become stuck on what is familiar and, as a consequence, the mind’s creative juices starts to dry up.

New Experiences Make You Happy

The challenge of learning new things – whether it be a skill, a strategy, a language, or solving a puzzle or mystery – has been linked closely with happiness mainly through the satisfaction that can be gained from the experience.

Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, who described the state of being fully immersed in energized focus as the ‘flow’, observed that happiness is found most in moments of profound engagement.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

Motivation Through Team Development Activities

Team development activities are amongst the best ways to boost team motivation.  At Orangeworks, we have dozens of team development activities to choose from, but all share a common purpose – to set challenges that get team members thinking outside the box and demand close collaboration.

Of course, activities and events can be tailored to suit a specific preferred outcome. But whether they are puzzles, mysteries or problem solving activities, the chief target outcome is the same. From out range of option, here are 3 of the most popular:

  • The Big Picture – As the name suggests, this activity is all about seeing The Big Picture. The greatest teams are those that come together through the sharing of common goals, and in this case the goal is to create a masterpiece. Participants are divided into small groups, each of which is responsible for painting a segment of one ‘Big Picture’. The fact that the teams have no idea what that picture is adds to the challenge, with the teams working together to ensure lines meet and colours match.
  • The Rat Trap – One of our most popular team development activities, Rat Trap is a team building event where groups work collaboratively to achieve a common goal. Execution of every element of your plan needs to be perfect to create a knock on effect to other teams working towards the same goal. Teams use their own ingenuity to work out what goes where and who does what, while tight time constraints mean clear communication is essential if each team’s section is to integrate properly. It all ends in one spectacular finale.
  • Breakthrough – In Breakthrough, teams are faced with a series of quick problem-solving challenges designed to shine a light on the subtle but crucial aspects of team work that too often go unnoticed. Participants are pushed hard but they also get a confidence boost after each success. Teams are encouraged to carry what they’ve learned forward to the next challenge, and once the tasks are complete, the entire group is reunited for one final challenge.

At Orangeworks, we create exceptional experiences that our customers remember forever. We are Ireland’s largest outdoor adventure and teambuilding company. Orangeworks is part of the Catalyst Global Network – the largest teambuilding network in the world with 32 companies in over 40 regions.