What’s your gut reaction when your boss says you’re going on a team building day? My heart would probably sink, because my experience is that they tend be ineffective. You spend a day playing various games in the guise of boosting team morale and productivity, when – more often than not – the activities are predictable, you don’t learn anything new, and you spend the day worrying about the work you’ll need to catch up on when you're back in the office.
So how can organizations make sure that their team building events are positive experiences? We recently asked our friends on Twitter: “What's the most unusual but effective team building activity you've done?” We received a fantastic response, so thanks to everyone who contributed!
Although not particularly unusual, many of you suggested that keeping things simple helps teams bond. @TweacherSmith suggested: “Open a bag of pretzels, share and talk. You know, breaking bread with others?” Along similar lines, our very own Mind Tools’ editor, @SarahPaveyMT, recommended: “Going out for chips (fries) during lunchbreak every Friday!” I like these ideas because it means you spend some downtime with your colleagues, without having the commitment of going out after work when you’ve often got other things going on at home.
On a more extreme note, the most unusual team building activity 26@Cattell has done is a, “trust exercise involving being lowered by a rope off a bridge to collect a ‘bomb’ while over a river, #concentratesthemind”. Not sure I’d be up for that. I’m more of a Friday lunchtime, fry-eating mingler than a rope dangler, although I’m intrigued to know which organization this person works for!
Charity team building events seem to hit the spot for a number of you. “Building and painting flat-pack rocking horses for charity” was the best activity that @ChalaakLomdi has done. @ziggyu posted: “My best team building experience was at @ExtremeNetworks sales conference, putting together school backpacks for disadvantaged kids.” These are the kinds of activities I personally think are great, as they help others as well your organization.
From charity to just plain wacky, @Martin1961Smith said, “Role-playing superheroes” during group problem solving and brainstorming session was, “...great fun and alters perspectives!” I can imagine! Another unusual one, posted by @crbuitrago, is, “Constructing the Eiffel Tower with weird materials”. The activity seems to be the same that was suggested by @Smartworxs: ‘Spaghetti tower with a marshmallow on top - a true thinking game.”
The Spaghetti Tower game seems to have originated from a TED talk. The goal is for teams of four to build the tallest freestanding structure in 18 minutes out of: 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow – which has to be on top. Although the task seems simple, it's apparently pretty challenging, and it forces people to collaborate quickly.
One final suggestion was made by @brandyeeee about an App game called “Heads Up”. What you do is hold your mobile device to your forehead and a word appears on your screen every 60 seconds. Your team then shouts out clues and you have to try and guess what it is. A modern twist on, ‘Who am I?” for those of you who can remember that!
Thanks again for everyone’s input. If you have any other unusual or effective team building activities, we’d love to hear about them!
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