A well-oiled and harmonious team is essential to any business’s success, but achieving this kind of nirvana takes a bit of work. In this article, I’ll not only discuss the importance of team building, but also list five types of team building activities to try out. Because just like our very own team here at Zenkit, we know that every team is unique.
What is the purpose of team building?
Team building is one of the most important investments you can make for your business as the outcome of it can be very beneficial. Many team building activities require employees to tap into and develop skills that are fruitful to daily business operations. Essential skills such as communication, problem-solving, cooperation, and adaptability are just a few examples of what can be enhanced when engaging in team building exercises.
They also give you and your team the chance to get to know each other. Breaking down barriers and forming stronger relationships on both a professional and personal level can do wonders for efficiency and productivity. Plus, it’s always nice to get along well with people you see almost every day.
I get it though, for some, hearing the words “team building” usually resonates with trust fall exercises and cringeworthy get-to-know-you games. Team building activities get a bad rap, and many workers prefer to use the time to actually get work done than to try to build the tallest tower out of popsicle sticks with Karen from finance.
However, if done correctly, then participating in team building activities can actually be fun and informative. To get the right level of engagement, you have to do more than than just think of a game that your whole team can get involved in. You also have to ensure that your team understand the objectives of the team building activity, and why they are doing what they’re doing. Having a goal in mind when completing an exercise will not only set them on the right track, but will also motivate them to do a better job.
Now, for the activity part. Selecting something everyone will enjoy is no easy task. You have to bear in mind the capabilities of your team members, and account for any physical restrictions. Then, of course, you have to consider your budget. If you have the luxury of splurging a little, then there are many companies that offer pre-designed team building activities. If you don’t, then there are still plenty of great options to choose from.
5 types of team building activity ideas
Problem-solving skills are essential for any employee to have, yet according to PayScale research it’s apparently the most commonly lacking soft skill hiring managers find in new graduates.
Engaging in problem-solving team building activities such as scavenger hunts, puzzles, or an escape room will require your employees to utilize and improve their adaptability, analytical, and creativity skills. This can lead to developing an Agile mindset, which can be instrumental to innovative ideas.
Indoor team building activities are great, but taking things outside is always a nice change for those who are used to being cooped up in an office all day. It also gives your team the chance to exercise, and exercise is—according to a great fictional legal figure—key to having “happy people.”
Great ideas for outdoor team building activities for those who aren’t tied to their company purse strings are white water rafting, obstacle courses, and paintball. These activities are not only fun, but they require you to collaborate and cooperate with your fellow team members if you want to be successful.
For companies that don’t have such a generous budget, there are also free alternatives that can be just as effective. Team games such as capture the flag or soccer are great for enhancing teamwork and cooperation skills. You could also take it up a notch by playing blindfold football, a game where half the team is blindfolded and paired up with a guide that instructs them throughout the game. This helps to develop trust, and trust is an imperative skill for any team to have.
3. Friendly competition
There’s nothing like a bit of friendly competition to boost morale and team spirit. Competition can bring out the best in your employees as it acts like a motivator that pushes them to go beyond their capabilities.
The key word here to remember is friendly. Ensure that whatever game or exercise you choose is in a relaxed environment and that your team is reminded that the aim is to work together, improve teamwork, and get to know each other better rather than winning (although, sure, winning is great).
Team building activities that encourage friendly competition you could try out are the human knot, where a group of people have to untangle themselves from a knot they’ve created through holding hands, card games, or, if you have the time and resources, an office sports day where you can play games such as the egg-and-spoon race or the potato sack race.
Volunteering for a charity or local organization is an excellent team building activity as you not only get to work on your teamwork and collaboration skills, but you also help others while doing it. There are many activities that help you bond with your colleagues, however, giving up your time and volunteering your services offers a special kind of bonding.
Many companies already participate in corporate charity programs where they allocate work time to philanthropic contributions. But if you’re looking for something on a lower scale, then you could contact a local organization that contributes a lot the community—community center, library, soup kitchen, animal shelter—and give them a hand.
5. Just for laughs
Then you have the team building activities where the objective is to simply unwind and have fun. Corporate cooking classes, karaoke, and speed meeting (think speed dating except instead of the looking-for-love part, you simply get to know your colleagues) are great for this as they don’t require a lot of physical activity, and are also good for enhancing communication and cooperation skills.
And, of course, you have the classic after work drinks or work lunch. A timeless activity that any employee of any calibre will be sure to enjoy.
Organizing team building activities and scheduling days out for your team is a great way to strengthen working relationships within your team and to improve skills that are imperative to the workplace. However, keep in mind that one scavenger hunt or an egg-and-spoon race won’t magically turn your team into a unified entity overnight.
For teamwork to be truly achieved, you need to have a long-term team development plan that experts say should be set up in five stages. And while activities and social outings are just a small part of the team building process, they are definitely an important one.
How does your team bond?
Dinnie and the Zenkit Team