Many employees live in fear of the dreaded team-building exercises traditionally used by management. Let’s face it – there are only so many trust falls and awkward ice-breaking games that one can take before the point of the exercise is lost. HR must think outside of the box to create engaging and entertaining team-building exercises unique to each group.
If you notice that your group has several home chefs in the ranks, you could turn a meal into a team building exercise. Instead of the typical pot luck, consider renting a kitchen for a day and having employees create a multi-course meal, with dissert of course! Discussing recipe options, coordinating cooking steps, and compromising to encompass a wide variety of taste preferences is a great way to get employees to communicate and utilize their talents.
Another great way to encourage team building while having a blast is to set up office scavenger hunts. These can be as simple as a list of common office items to be found within a time limit, or as complicated as requiring the wining team to both find a set of items and use them to build a set design. Scavenger hunts can be completed entirely indoors, or teams could head outside for a dose of team building in the sunshine.
If the goal of team-building is to focus on communication skills, engaging employees in blind fold activities can be both effective and hilarious. A maze can be constructed in a large meeting room or outside in a grassy area with tables, chairs, or traffic cones. Have each team select one person to be blind folded and walk the maze while the remaining members shout instructions to complete the maze. If the employees enjoy competition, you could provide prizes to the team with the fastest time.
When serious team building is needed, role playing a survival scenario can encourage communication, creative problem solving, and task delegation skills. Employees can work together to think through all possible scenarios for office disasters, including fires, earthquakes, robberies, or severe weather, and create action plans to maximize employee safety. For true survival enthusiasts, consider asking everyone to camp out at the office for a few days and role-play an Armageddon scenario requiring the unique skills of each employee to survive.
If you are looking for something less physical, you may enjoy table top racing as a team building exercise. Teams work together to build the fastest, most aerodynamic cars out of Legos, recycled materials, or building kits and race their across table tops or down office corridors.
Finally, if you have a particularly tech-savvy office or are struggling to build virtual teams, you should consider using on-line multiplayer games as a team building strategy. Team Fortress 2 is a prime example of a free capture-the-flag style game that allows players to log in from anywhere, and can easily accommodate a dedicated served for inter-office matches.
Whatever strategy you choose to take, team building exercises are an important part of encouraging positive discussion and a friendly organizational culture. By setting up positive and entertaining team building exercises, your employees will be more engaged in the event and learn more beneficial skills than traditional exercises.
Head of Training and Development