Three Questions to Ask When Planning Team-Building Activities

Do a search on Google for team-building activities for businesses and you’ll find more than a few articles that provide you with a variety of options. You’ll come across everything from reminders of elementary school or junior high (egg drops, puzzles, etc.) to some more eyebrow-raising pastimes (sumo wrestling, flash mobbing). If planned and executed properly, any activity that you choose can serve to engender trust and respect among your employees as well as inspire greater confidence in your company. If planned or executed improperly, however, it can turn your office into a scene from The Office: you’ll see rolled eyes, barely suppressed groans and mental notes to quit this job at the soonest opportunity. Before you throw any kind of team-building exercise, you should ask yourself these questions:

“Will my team actually want to do this?”

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It won’t matter which activity you choose—if you have to force your team to do it, it’s the wrong one. Even if no one protests, don’t assume that employees will share your enthusiasm for a particular activity: they may just go along with something because they want to keep the boss happy. This may not incite outright rebellion, but it could breed resentment, which could lead to a long-term reduction in morale and productivity.
The easiest way to work around this potential pitfall is simply to ask your employees what they’d like to do. If you get their input ahead of time, you’ll stand a much better chance of engaging them right off the bat. It’ll also help you gauge where your team stands in terms of enthusiasm and interests.

“Can everyone in the team participate?”

If a majority of your team agrees on a particular activity, you’ll be off to a good start. However, you should make sure that each member of your team can perform whatever you decide upon. If some people feel left out or inadequate, that will work against the unity and enthusiasm that you’re trying to inspire.

“How will this activity benefit my business?”

Remember not to lose sight of the ultimate end of any team-building exercise: to help increase productivity for your business. Getting your team excited won’t do much good if they don’t channel that energy back into the job. Think about how an activity will pay off down the road. Keep that in the back of your mind while you’re planning it out.

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Comments: 1

  • Thank you for sharing this Roger. You have raised some important points. I would suggest a couple of adujustments:

    This should be number one “How will this activity benefit my business?” Far to often, companies are engaging in frivolous and even extreme recreational activities and using them as a substitute for team building. You gave several examples in your post (e.g. sumo wrestling, egg drops).

    I would also suggest re-thinking this point “If a majority of your team agrees on a particular activity….”. Team building should be a strategic initiative shaped by corporate goals and objectives as articulated by senior management. It should never be something on which employees vote. By contrast, strictly recreational activities to reward teams, celebrate success or celebrate holidays (e.g. Christmas parties) would benefit from such an approach.

    I have blogged extensively about strategies t improve the effectiveness of team building and would welcome comments from you and your readers

    Team Building: Why Executives Should Drive Team Building Initiatives http://bit.ly/kgUrQH

    Executive Team Building Guide http://bit.ly/teambuildingceoguide

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