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Team-Building: Team Development Activities That Aren't Boring
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Team-Building: Team Development Activities That Aren't Boring - Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Team Development Activities That Aren't Boring

Executive Leadership Articles

Team-Building: Team Development Activities That Aren't Boring

Everyone longs for a team of employees who get along wonderfully with each other, who work well as a group, who leverage each other’s strengths, and who help each other to overcome personal challenges. A team of colleagues who genuinely care about and like each other often seems to manage itself, and when people enjoy working with their co-workers, everything about the work is better, including team members’ feelings about it.

Excellent camaraderie seldom develops overnight; it is usually the product of long hours of meaningful and successful work, combined with a familiarity that somehow manages to avoid breeding contempt, plus a little bit of magic fairy dust that nobody knows the origins of.

A person alone is a complicated creature. Two people working together are doubly complicated, as individuals and as a team. Add more people to the equation and you’re dealing with a mind-blowing number of possible complications that increases at an exponential rate, like the numbers on the Richter scale, which is probably why anyone trying to move a whole lot of people in the same direction toward one goal can feel like waiting for the Big One to hit.

In order to speed (or merely encourage) the process, many have turned to the oft-dreaded team-building activity, which for many brings to mind blindfolds, trust-falls, and awkwardly contrived getting-to-know-you questions. Alison Greene of Intuit’s The Fast Track asked readers to submit stories of their most horrifying team-building stories, and the submissions are too terrible to be believed. One contributor described an activity in which participants took large gulps of soda and then spit them into partners’ mouths as a means of bonding. Another wrote about employees taking turns sharing what they didn’t like about each other.

In fact, it’s much easier to find anecdotal evidence that team-building activities are boring in general than to find reasonable arguments to the contrary. A web-search for “great team-building activities” really turns up a lot of lists that are exactly the opposite of great: most of them contain variations on the games most of us immediately roll our eyes at, such as Two Truths and a Lie, or the Find a Person Who _______ game.

Yet most of us can think of at least one activity we enjoyed, one where feelings of increased fondness for our colleagues were somehow nurtured. An informal survey of some Facebook acquaintances revealed a few ideas successful activities have in common. A well-conceived company activity is more likely to work if it

  • is largely unstructured, offering participants freedom to choose their level of engagement;
  • has enough structure to force some amount of meaningful collaboration, even if it’s just a piece of chart paper with a list of what worked well in that day’s activity, and suggestions for next time;
  • removes the team from the workplace environment; and
  • allows participants to opt out, without feeling alienated from the group, if they’re uncomfortable with the activity itself.

Additionally, it never hurts to include some element of good food. Potluck lunches are great for revealing the personalities of your employees, but a meal on the company’s dime is always appreciated too!

 

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Team-Building: Team Development Activities That Aren't Boring - Executive Leadership Articles

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