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Corporate Team Building Activities

Corporate Team Building Activities

A team is a group of people who have a common purpose or goal. As we all know, teams are inherently useful for conducting tasks or achieving results that are relatively complex in nature and that often require a number of associated sub-tasks to be performed. Hence, depending upon the particular task(s), teams may be formed for a short, medium or long period of time, but it is important remember that all teams have to be built or developed. This means that some focused corporate team building activities are well worth using, especially when a team needs to work together successfully over weeks and months as a minimum.

In general, team building, or team development as it is sometimes called, is an ongoing and progressive process which aims to help a group evolve into a tighter unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks or projects, but evolve higher levels of trust and start to support one another (and in so doing, hopefully increasingly respect one another’s individual differences). The main aim of teambuilding is therefore to guide a team towards this greater cohesiveness and productivity (which helps to maximize the team’s overall contribution).

One of the main ways in which to build team cohesiveness is to engage in corporate team building activities of different kinds to create as much variety of possible. There are a wide range of team building activities but these tend to fall into four categories or clusters. Let’s look at these four clusters.

  1. Ice-breakers/energizers
  2. Classroom activities/games
  3. Outside activities/games
  4. PowerPoint/Web-based activities/games

Let’s look briefly at each of these in turn: 

Activity Category Main benefits Example(s)
Ice-breakers/energizers

Ice-breakers are quick ways in which to get a team of people to focus on each other (and in some cases the task at hand) by getting each person to learn a little more about each other (and usually to discover that several people may have interests or skills in common). This is a quick way to get people to start to cohere as a team and even form new relationships 

Helps the team to know one another at a more personal level.Gets individuals to share who they are and what some of their individual thoughts or perspectives may (which are often hidden from the wider group) Pairs interview each other and share with the group or For example, a group forms a line and then re-arranges the line so that they are sorted by their birthday. Jan 1 on one end and Dec 31 at the other end. They must do all this without talking or writing anything down.
Classroom activities or games

Classroom games can be very varied but for the most part involve using smaller teams in a whole group to work on a task or a goal in competition with one another. This simulates the team environment to some extent and allows people to have to work together to achieve an outcome or target in what may be only a few minutes. 

Classroom activities help to simulate a situation or a goal and allow a group or the entire team to work on an issue in a safe and often interesting way. If well designed these games can also be fun and help people to relax around colleagues who they may no know well. Classroom activities include debates, quizzes, puzzle solving, using small props (paper planes, balloons etc), role plays, acting out mini-dramas, and many others.For example, different groups may be given different company annual reports and asked to summarize past performance and future potential (or analyze financial data).
Outside activities/games

Outdoor activities are similar to classroom activities but are often performed on a much bigger stage (in a field, on a hill or by a river etc) and typically last for longer (hours rather than minutes). These games are often held off-site or in specialized locations (with unusual terrain or props) Because they are usually more complex in design these games or simulations can allow a group to be tested in very practical ways. 

Outside activities and games are often used to test teams in practice or get them to do something in tangible terms like cross a river safely or build something. They can be fun and revealing about people’s character and often shine a bright light on leadership capabilities. Build a vehicle (like a cart or raft out of wood) and win the race/cross the river.

Crew a large sail boat for a day or longer.

Prepare for and then execute on climbing a hill/mountain as a team.

Engage in team based sports type activities in a controlled way.

Survival type game.Treasure Hunt type game.

PowerPoint/Web-based activities/games

In the modern world teams can be built using technology of all kinds.  At the simple end of the scale this includes pre-designed PowerPoints (which use popular game formats for example) to e-learning type modules (which allow for interactivity). Even more sophisticated are team games that allow multiple people to access a game or simulation where decisions are played out over days or even weeks.

Technology-based games or activities are likely to grow significantly in popularity in the future as they allow virtual or remote teams to work together or interact. These activities can be paused and have web-based input or support from facilitators at set intervals. “Jeopardy” or “Who wants to be a Millionaire” type quizzes in PowerPoints.

Wed-based team decision-making simulations for marketing, sales, operations or finance issues.

Run a virtual company online taking on particular roles and make decisions.

Overall issues to consider when using Corporate Team Building Activities

Whatever format you choose to use to help build or develop a team, they are all likely to be useful at a general level, even when used over short time periods, helping individuals to see things differently and use different thinking styles or approaches. Games, exercises, pre-designed activities and quizzes also help to stimulate the brain, improving retention of ideas, learning, and increase team fun and enjoyment so generally offer a very positive and often immediate return on investment. But are they always useful and appropriate?

Before deciding to use any team building games with a group of people, a team leader always needs to carefully consider whether the activities are applicable for the team members and the situation. Team members should clearly enjoy the activity, learn something from it, which they can apply, and which will help to improve results. But it should also be remembered that team building games/activities are not necessarily the best way to improve team morale and attitude if there are problems in these areas. If you approach a behavioral problem in the team head-on by running an activity which highlight the problem, this can cause people to either be quite and possibly become defensive). Corporate team building activities should therefore be used to take relationships to new and better places, not to fix problems that may exist between individuals.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at OptimalJon@gmail.com

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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