When you hear the term “team building”, what comes to mind? A hard ropes course meant to teach you and your co-workers how to work together? A meditation retreat meant to teach you how to relax and focus better at work? Or maybe it means sitting in a classroom with everyone, learning communication skills. No matter what comes to your mind, team building doesn’t have to be a stuffy part of work any longer. There are plenty of super fun ways to get that team building momentum in without boring people to death.
Consider all of the great types of team building programs out there, I already mentioned a few above. Sure, some can cost a lot and others can end up putting people to sleep, so how do you put fun back into these training exercises? Believe it or not, there are some easy ways to do this without breaking your budget. Here are some great ideas:
If you don’t have a large budget for team building exercises, consider taking a day here and there for some exercises at the office. You can easily find a ton of different free team building activities that will help you and your employees grow together and learn to work better as a group. Here are some of my personal favorites that won’t bore employees to tears:
Mine Fields: Lay out different objects on the floor of your office and group employees up. Have each group guide others through the field while blindfolded without touching any of the objects. This helps to teach better communication and how to solve problems.
Survival Scenarios: While these might sound corny to you, it actually can help you to see which employees are natural leaders and which can think outside the box faster. Start with a scenario such as “Your bus just crashed miles outside of the nearest town, it’s now past dark and the temperature is falling. You have injured people and need to find heat and help quickly. What do you do?” Or, you can choose one such as “Your plane just crashed into the ocean and you and the other survivors must choose 12 items from the plane to take with you to the island a few yards away. What do you take?” Each scenario will offer you a glimpse into how your employees think and how they can react to different problems.
Group Mandala: This is a game where every person in the group is represented by a specific object, such as a marble, a different colored dice, or something else small and easily recognized. The “group” is then shaken up and cast out on the floor or table and everyone in the group gets to give an interpretation of the landing pattern. This can be a very interesting game to see how everyone is viewed in your office and how they feel about being in front, in the middle, behind, etc.
Story Zoom: In this activity you hand out a different picture to each employee and they must come up with a unified story as a group – all without showing each other their pictures. This requires that everyone communicate well together and be patient.
Of course, there are some excellent outdoor activities that you can do for team building. It doesn’t have to be a ropes course or another old standby, in fact, I recommend that you get creative with what you pick. There are tons of great things that you can do together to build everyone’s confidence as well as their ability to working well together. Here are some of my favorite outdoor activities:
Charity Races: These don’t have to be huge marathons, they can be simple walks that are put on by different organizations such as cancer research. Get your employees together and do this as a team, work toward a certain goal of donations and together with choosing those that will participate and those that will help cheer, provide drinks, and support. Everyone feels good about donating and it helps to build a team by supporting each other in the effort.
Multi-Tug of War: We’ve all heard of tug-of-war and played it as kids, but how about playing a multi-tug of war? This is where you get multiple ropes and connect them all at the center. The goal is still to bring the center knot/flag in your direction, but, it is more interesting because there is more than two ways that the rope can be pulled. Also, you can put several different teams against each other at the same time instead of just two sides. The result is something extremely fun and everyone will end up laughing.
Outdoor Sports: Softball, golf, basketball, volleyball – any type of team sport that requires a group of people to work together to succeed. This is a great way for different groups of employees to come together throughout the year and participate in different sports. You can find different adult leagues to join throughout your area.
Other Ways to Build a Team
There are plenty of other great ways that you can work on team building skills without everyone realizing that they are doing an exercise. One of the best ways to do this is to assign teams throughout the office and have them work toward building a different social media platform for your company. These include Facebook pages, Twitter pages, the company LinkedIn profile, and other different social media sites that require work and dedication to make a page grow for your company. Offer incentives to get teams competitive, just make sure that you also have rules to keep everyone honest. You can find great social media management software that will allow you to keep tabs on everyone’s progress.