The best team-building exercises have a goal or purpose— one goal may be to provide a shared structured experience that allows team members to get to know each other better. Here are some ideas for team-building exercises that tend to achieve better team camaraderie.
- While this may take some planning, a shared volunteer experience supports team building and corporate goodwill in a community. For example, a large equipment manufacturer we once worked with sent teams to help build a local playground— each team contributed a half day or labor and built a specific element of the park. Each team learned more about each other, and was proud of what they did for the community.
- Self-Development Training. There are many personality and team assessments that provide personal insights about individual strengths and weaknesses. When these assessments are administered and explained in a team setting by a skilled trainer, they can provide insights on both an individual and team level. This is particularly true when the session includes action planning, so that team members can hold each other accountable for carrying the lessons of the day forward.
- Physical Games and Challenges. There are many skilled trainers that can facilitate team-building games, exercises and activities in both outdoor and indoor environments. These exercises can be modified to meet any physical limitations in the group, while still taking people out of their comfort zones for learning purposes. The best sessions are those that connect insights from the activity process and outcomes to the team dynamics back at the office— this extends the learning points in ways that have positive benefits beyond the day’s fun.
- Cross-Functional Meet and Greets. To build connections across teams, schedule meet and greet lunches or field trips that bring together teams that rely on each other, but that do not work together every day. For example, have marketing and operations share a lunch, or have the technologists and human resources teams visit a museum together. People who know each other tend to have more empathy for one another, and have more direct lines of communication when they encounter challenges. The future payoffs for these events can be hard to trace, but faith in the process can reap unknown rewards.
Experimenting with these approaches can generate other ideas— engaging the team in planning events can also engage them in the process, encouraging both buy-in and creativity.