10 Team Building Activities that Maximize Employee Participation

Team Building Activities
Strong collaboration and effective communication are the cornerstones of any successful team. For years, corporate associations and small group organizations have been searching for the best activities to foster group compatibility and successful teamwork. Unfortunately, many of the team building exercises formed and implemented are poorly contrived and unpopular.

In lieu of the standard, mundane team building activities of the past, we recommend you test out one of these modern and unconventional options:

1. Ropes Course

One of the more inventive team building activities of late is the individually motivating and outdoor-friendly ropes adventure course. Variations of these adventure courses are beginning to pop up everywhere. A series of challenges stands between your group and the finish line, sometimes on the ground, but more often than not, in the trees with a harness and helmet.

Not only do these challenges present an opportunity to grow as a team, but they serve to help individuals surpass their individual plateaus. Bring your team together and cheer on your coworkers as they jump from platform to platform, zip line through the air and traverse their way back to the ground under safe supervision and guidance from their team.

Example: Frank from HR has a hard time letting go of the safety net and taking the zip line plunge, but digs deep after hearing the whole office chant his name in unrestrained enthusiastic support.

Warning: Sometimes people have a hard time with heights… and with physical activity. Be mindful of your team’s limitations. Also, liability is usually taken care of by the proprietor of the adventure course, but just in case, cover your legal bases and ensure that this activity doesn’t move from the forest to the courtroom.

2. Building Blocks

This task is pretty straightforward. Connect to your inner child with a building challenge using Legos. One effective exercise involves a manager or director constructing an object of some complexity and showing it to a team leader. Then, the instruction for the layout is relayed (via words alone) to the team. Their job is to reconstruct the original object as close to its original detail as possible with only the verbal instruction offered. The parallels to company hierarchical processes are plain, and the team learns to work together in a unique and fun way.

Example: A quiet developer baffles the entire office after constructing a disturbingly accurate Lego replica of the Starship Enterprise. It is framed in a shadow box and mounted next to the plaque for company stewardship, but held in higher regard.

Warning: This can be somewhat distracting from your company’s overall goal. It involves teamwork, helps kinesthetic learners and keeps the team engaged, but unless you tie in learning goals directly, the lesson and teamwork could become muddied.

3. The Egg Drop

This task involves innovation and teamwork wrapped into one. Workers get divided into even teams, and each team is given an egg and a few standard supplies. Depending on your preference for variation, this could be anything from foil, cardboard, paper, etc. Get creative and really challenge the team. Then, teams take 10 minutes to construct a device that will prevent the egg from being destroyed after suffering a 10-foot drop. In round two, workers can get a second go at the task, having seen some (hopefully) successful contraptions, and this time are offered the ability to use a single additional random office item. For a fun twist, require a 30-second ad jingle for their egg-catching apparatus (to be composed before the egg drop takes off).

Example: Everyone in the office forgets that Jan in account management took some engineering courses in college before she proudly fashions a series of rubber bands, rulers and binder clips into some sort of suspended net.

Warning: Any failures to create a sound design could present a bit of a mess in the office… “Clean-up Conference Room 7.”

4. Photo Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a simple yet effective way to help team members get acquainted with the office, the neighborhood, or even the city, depending on your sense of scale. A list of clues is given to each team. Upon solving the first clue, teams travel to the destination and snap a photo with an object, person or landscape and send to a manager. If they are correct, they receive the next clue. The first team to make it back with all of the clues solved wins your choice of prize.

Example: Fred takes a comically flustered picture with Barista Sam from the Starbucks on 5th and Main. His face gets Photoshopped into the company Christmas card.

Warning: Be careful with group sizes here. People get excluded if they are too big and become apathetic if they are too small.

5. Off-site Field Trip

Venture off campus to a local hotspot and chat half the time about work related projects, goals and setbacks. Spend the other half talking about anything of interest: new movies, funny stories, good books, etc. Again we recommend creativity.

Example: Team Director Norm takes the crew to a local museum, but everyone ends up at a local brew house discussing artistic trends and Norm’s strange aversion to marble statues.

Warning: An event like this could be distracting to your overall collaborative goal. People have been known to take off on individual adventures to pursue their own interest. Lay out some plain ground rules before arriving at your destination, and make sure they involve keeping the team together.

6. Volunteer

Get together and give back! This is a recent trend that is (fortunately) becoming very popular. What better way to foster an ethically sound and generous environment than to come together for a good purpose. Give assistance to those of less means, and assemble your team for constructive heart-warming bonding.

Example: After a food boxing speed round at the local food bank, Marketing will not let Sales live it down. They’ve now become regular volunteers, and donate regularly.

Warning: Unless the event is mandatory, attendance could be lacking. The unfortunate truth is that most people don’t realize how fulfilling volunteering is until they actually take the leap and do it. Compound volunteering at the food bank with a canned food drive at your workplace. Not only is this a truly fulfilling activity, but it could also potentially paint your company in a really positive light.

Alternatives

If you are stuck on staying in the office, short on supplies or you just don’t have much time to put things together, here are a few different ideas you can try to get your team back on track.

1. Show and Tell

As elementary (yes we went there) as this sounds, the results can be incredible. Not only does everyone get to share the spotlight, they are given the opportunity to be vulnerable, or quirky.

2. Personality Competition 

Split teams up by personality types—all teams will have some internal competitiveness. Why not get it out of the way with a straight-up competition? Divide teams by personality types, and even out the teams as you see fit, then create competitions for a variety of different talents. Softball toss, water pong, Wii bowling, chess, movie trivia, blind wine tasting, Texas Hold ‘em, the options are truly endless.

3. Four Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Short on time? No problem. Simply sit in an area large enough for a conference and ask each team member to come up with four facts about themselves that their coworkers wouldn’t know. If you want to throw in a twist, make one of these things a lie, and the rest as eccentric as possible. Avoid the humdrum options like favorite color and go for something original. Everyone shares their facts, and the rest of the crowd picks out the fib.

4. Viral Video Broadcast

Another good low-on-time option is this activity, perfect for weekly meetings. After business is taken care of, have each member of the team come forward and offer a video they found particularly entertaining, a bit of news they found engaging, or a video that really speaks to them. Be sure to lay down guidelines to maintain PC, but open up the gates for some imaginative entries.

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