Team building is one of those components of a corporate event that is becoming supremely valuable. As was discovered long ago, effective communication starts with trust and trust is something you cannot give; it’s earned. Be sure to add team building to your agenda when planning your next event,
Artificial environments, where participants are thrust into close and often unfamiliar or uncomfortable social and geographical situations, encourage the building of trust at a much quicker rate compared to the usual office or work environment. Event experts have recognized the benefits of team building and even the fortune 500 companies have started regularly scheduling these types of events at our conference facilities for their management teams on every level.
To get the full effect of a team building event, make sure it has a purpose.
Make sure your team building event has a purpose.
Also, see Event Planning free e-book in our Learning Zone.
You’ve most likely been a part of a team-building exercise at some point in time. Maybe it was a weekend retreat at the Wilderness Edge during an afternoon canoe trip where you were learning to rely on one another for direction, or perhaps it was on one of the various and adventurous bike trails with one of our guides as they took your team through many memorable challenges.
Regardless of whether everyone enjoyed the experience or not, what happened when your team returned to the office? Were they their usual selves- perhaps nitpicking over small assignments or refusing to collaborate or cooperate with each other? The “field trip” from work might have been a nice break from the business but did it actually affect anyone who was present that they took it back to their workplace?
No goal turn time into a waste
Too often, supervisors and managers schedule an activity with no real goal in mind. Obviously, it turns into a waste of time and managers risk losing the team’s respect when an exercise doesn’t actually help those involved.
Team-building exercises can be a powerful experience to unite groups, develop strengths, discover talents, uncover weaknesses- but only if the activities are planned and executed strategically.
Said another way; there’s got to be a purpose behind what you’re doing- for example, improving problem-solving skills among the team or increasing creative skills- rather than because it was a nice weekend to take the team out for a hike. This article highlights for you what to consider when planning an event, and we can offer a variety of exercises that address different agendas that teams commonly face.
Team Building that Effectively Builds Teams
The most important thing to consider when team-building is the very beginning: start by determining what challenges your team is facing. Only then are you able to pick exercises that will be effective in aiding the process of working through them.
Think about the current strengths and weaknesses of your team. Categorize them on a piece of paper or in an email and ask yourself these questions to identify the root of any problem:
- are there conflicts between certain individuals that are creating division on the team?
- Does everyone know each other?
- Are some more focused on their own success as opposed to the teams?
- Is poor communication slowing the groups’ progress?
- Does the team need to learn how to work together instead of individually?
- Is there anyone resistant to change and does this affect the groups’ ability to progress?
- Is there anyone who needs a morale boost?
If you’re interested to test how well your team works together, we suggest a D.I.S.C course Assignment where you can identify that causes of your team’s issues. You can then pick the exercises that will address what needs to be addressed. This will help the team gain a real benefit from the event. It feels like it was not only fun but also worth their while.
Examples of Team Building Exercises
There are literally multiple hundreds of exercises that can touch on a variety of issues. We’ve highlighted just a few basic ones; straightforward examples that focus on the most common challenges.
Here are some basic exercises you could try if you’re faced with problems of communication, trust, or stereotyping on your team.
- Back-to-back drawing – Divide your group into pairs and have each pair sit on the floor with their backs to each other. Give one person in the pair a picture of a shape and give the other person a pen and paper
- Ask those holding the pictures to give verbal instructions on how to draw the shape without actually telling the partner what the shape is. When they’ve finished have them compare the shape drawn to the original one and consider the following questions:
- How well was the shape described by the first person?
- How well did the second person interpret the directions?
- What were the problems with the sending and receiving of the communication?
- Survival scenario – this one will force your group to communicate and agree to ensure “survival.” Imagine that your group was just in a plane crash in the ocean. There’s an island nearby and room on the lifeboat for every person- plus twelve items they’ll need for survival. Have the team choose which items they will bring. How do they decide? How is each item rated?
Eliminating Stereotypes and ‘Labeling’
Stereotype Party- This one is rather fun for medium to large sized groups. On name tags have them write different “personality types (see list below),” and pin or tape one tag to each person’s back. Don’t show anyone which one is on their back- they’ll be able to see everyone else’s but not their own. Then have each person figure out which personality type is on their own back by asking stereotype-based questions of other people- “Am I a woman? Am I a business person? Am I a good driver?” and so on.
Allow members to answer only yes or no and encourage participants to ask questions to as many different people as possible.
Here are some types you might consider:
- Movie Star
- Postal Worker
- Race Car Driver
Building Interdependence and Trust
Human Spring- Members of the group are to stand and face each other in pairs. Elbows should be bent with palms are facing towards each other. Direct them to touch their palms together and gradually begin to lean toward each other so they eventually hold each other up. Then have everyone move their feet further and further back until they have to solely depend on their partners to remain standing.
Mine Field-This one is really engaging if you have a large room or outdoor field. Set up a “minefield” using chairs, boxes, or any other obstacles that could potentially trip someone up. Leave enough space between the “mines” so that people can walk through them. Now divide your group into pairs and be considerate of who you match. This is a great opportunity to work on relationships so you might want to put together those who have been having trust issues with each other. Blindfold one of them to be the “mine walker.”
This person is not allowed to see or talk. The partner is to stay outside of the minefield and verbally give directions leading them through the “mines” to get to the other side. Before the exercise begins to allow them to plan out how they’ll communicate. Then make sure there are consequences for when people hit the obstacles. An example might be that they have to start over again.
What Not to Do
If you were a sprinter would you train just a few times a year for your big race? Probably not. You’d be training every day. Why? Because it is only through consistent training that enables your chance to win. Team Building works on the same principle. Most managers have one or two of these a year and that’s it. That’s not regular “training.” Effective Team-Building needs to happen continually if the team is going to be successful. It needs to be part of the corporate culture. If you’re leading a group aim to incorporate team-building events into your monthly or weekly agenda. This will help everyone address their various obstacles and will give them a chance to have fun and learn to trust each other.
Finally, make sure that the team-building exercises aren’t competitive. Competition tends to make one person or teamwork against the other. This isn’t a good way to build unity. More likely it will divide the team.
Many companies use sports as activities and though they can be fun, they are fundamentally competing against each other. It can actually de-motivate those who aren’t particularly good at sports and maybe even build up some competitive resentments if one team loses because of a certain individual. Plan events that make people depend on everyone else to succeed and don’t worry about “winning.” When the team unites is when the winning really starts.