Team Building Exercises That Don’t Suck

This isn’t about your company/team picnic. Get someone to fire up the barbie. Some one bring a kickball. Pack a first aide kit. Have a grand ole’ time.  I’m talking specifically about the types of events/activities that are forced on teams that are in need of a tune up.

You know the kind I’m talking about…

And if you’re anything like me, you’re all about the team and you have no problem playing along nicely… but the moment someone comes at you with a kumbayauntie the human knotsummer camp style-B.S. team unity activity, you back away slowly and avoid eye-contact.

Spare me the trust fall.

And then there are the team building activities that have no real relation to team building and are a total time suck. There’s a hat with overly contrived getting-to-know-you questions with Miss America-style responses. Or, there some kind brain teaser — who ever finishes the fastest gets a company mug. You have to go and you just hope there will be jelly beans or other snacks involved.

The worst part is that team is usually no more cohesive or aligned than they were before all the hoopla.

Here’s where they miss: most team building exercises are way too broad. Rebuilding or developing a team is a pretty big initiative. Too big even for best leaders and team development gurus. Which means that most mere mortals don’t stand a chance.

If the team is lacking in the cohesion department, there’s usually a reason(s).

Consider the route(s) of the problem and then plan team building events around that with a clear goal/intent in mind.

Team buildingHere are some possible team-related issues you might be facing:

  • Team members barely know each other
  • Hyperfocus on individual goals has left collateral damage for other team members
  • Crappy/ineffective communication
  • Working together/collaborating
  • Low or dwindling morale
  • Some battle royale (AKA conflict) has created division

Identify the issues first.

Plan the activity/event around the issues. Be clear about what your intent is (they’re not kindergarteners). Accomodate everyone’s schedules to get everyone there. Don’t make it a one-time event… improving your team’s cohesion is a goal you all work towards, not a line-item on your to-do list or a one-time shindig.

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