Field Notes: Team bonding -- not another day at the office

October 18, 2019
  • Competencies
  • Leadership and Management
  • Professional Well-Being
  • Staffing Leadership
cartoon silhouettes pose for a group photo on the beach

"Field Notes" is a regular AACRAO Connect column covering practical and philosophical issues facing admissions and registrar professionals. The columns are authored by various AACRAO members. If you have an idea for a column and would like to contribute, please send an email to the editor at

by Laura Remillard, Associate Director of Graduate Admissions, Stanford University

The weather was perfect. There were paddle boats and kayaks for those wanting to do water activities; and badminton and volleyball set-up for those who wanted to engage in land activities. The food was fantastic, and I remember soaking up the sun and being perfectly relaxed.

This wasn’t a family picnic, or BBQ. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment weekend activity. It was a planned team bonding event. 

Imagine a team bonding event feels like good friends just getting together to spend the day at the shore. According to Forbes magazine, that is what it is supposed to feel like. Team bonding should not feel like a day at the office. 

The strengths of team building experiences

When you participate in activities where you engage with one another, you find out what their strengths are. When you find out what people’s strengths are, you can celebrate that and use that to help them in their work, projects, and career. It bolsters confidence.

  Team bonding events are important because they boost morale. For example, one employee complained that her manager never did things with her team. Others in the office frequently had lunch together, but her own team never did. The morale of that team was down, and no one felt valued. Once a new manager was in place, she instituted coffee outings, productive team meetings, and team lunches. As a result, the team felt more valued and there was productivity. People were happy.

Learn from successful teams

If you are a manager or supervisor and you feel your team is in a rut, seek out experienced managers of successful teams and find out what makes them tick. Talk to your HR representative to see if there are professional development opportunities to help engage your team. Talk to the director to see if there funding for team engagement activities. Third party surveys can also help determine the morale of the office. 

If it turns out you need to invest in team bonding, you will not be sorry. It is a win-win investment. As a result from our outing at the shore, I felt more connected to my colleagues, and eager to engage more at work.


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