Team building can easily swing from a fun and meaningful event to forgettable or even downright traumatic. Here are a few examples of activities to avoid in any team building session:
Activities which may intrude on personal space
While many team building sessions begin with activities intended to encourage participants to open up and be more at ease with each other, some are simply too touchy-feely for some. While a team hug might work well in the deep South, it may not fare so well in New York City.
Activities which require solitary effort.
Can you say “nap time”?
Team competitions and awards for winners.
Team buildings are supposed to encourage cooperation and joint accountability. Competitive games have the exact opposite effect as they push co-workers to beat each other, and it becomes worse when employees are grouped into teams according to department or function. Activities that pit marketing against production people or management against rank-and-file employees will only succeed in strengthening hostility across the company.
Activities that require too much preparation time.
Some team building sessions culminate in programs with teams tasked to prepare presentations. Most employees are bound to spend too much time preparing and practicing for the presentations and not much time team building.
Overly complex puzzles.
An increasingly shortened attention span is a fact of our current culture, and this needs to be reflected in your team building puzzles. One team building activity is called Spiders’ Web where participants have to move through a web of strings without letting any part of their body touch the web. This requires gymnastics and usually takes a fair amount of time for a group of 15 to complete. The activity usually ends only with a lot of cheating involved – mostly allowed by the facilitators out of boredom or fatigue.
Physical activities that will force some to sit it out.
While this may seem obvious, we hear of groups planning these events all the time without considering other’s capacity for high activity levels. Rock climbing, trekking, white water rafting – these are some group activities supposedly designed to encourage people to force their boundaries. Too often these only succeed in shutting out people who are not fit enough to handle the activity level.
Activities that end up causing more problems and stress to workers are often the pitfalls of failure to choose the right team building facilitators.
You don’t want your “epic fail” going down in the company’s history books, to be whispered about at the water cooler. We recommend that you invest in professional team building organizations with extensive experience in structuring your team building event to fit your corporate culture and needs. With clear goals, proper planning and avoiding destructive activities such as the ones above, any team building session is bound to succeed and have your employees looking forward to the next one.