When it’s done right, team building is a great way to foster connections at work, improve employee retention and gain insights into how your team members work together. For leadership teams, these activities are an opportunity to develop management skills and connect with their teams. They also help large organizations and remote teams interact. After all, it’s key that leaders understand their people, and any activity that can help team members get to know one another is a good place to start.
But we’ve all had experiences with team-building exercises that feel like a waste of time. Poorly planned team building can lead to frustration and eye rolling, and it’s a fast way for leadership to seem out of touch. Sometimes team-building activities can even cross a line from boring and out of touch to uncomfortable and exclusionary. To avoid these outcomes, it’s important to try to think creatively. team building takes effort, and it’s more than just a box to tick.
Five Team-Building Activities to Try
Focus on team-building exercises that let your colleagues get to know one another, develop leadership skills, relate to the actual jobs that they do and foster collaboration. With these five activities, you can develop a roster of simple team-building exercises you can do without even leaving your office.
Team Breakfast or Lunch
Let’s start with a very basic exercise: get your team together for a meal. With free food and good conversation, you can bring your team together on a regular basis. Make sure team members eat together instead of hiding away at their desks and provide conversation starters. Giving your team a chance to sit and talk casually can build comfort and cohesion, and contribute toward creating a resilient team.
Find One Thing in Common
Even if your team members have known one another for a while, they might not know about one another’s lives outside of work. Ask participants to find one thing in common with everyone. You can specify that it be work experience or something unrelated to work. It’s a great way to deepen connections and spark conversations outside of the activity. This is also a great team-building activity that you can do with remote teams.
Take Your Coworker to Work Day
Especially in a larger company, employees might not know what their colleagues’ day-to-day looks like. Take Your Coworker to Work Day can be a fun opportunity for two employees not only to get to know each other better, but also to understand their colleagues’ roles and responsibilities. Have employees shadow each other and report back on what they learned. What comes out of a Take Your Coworker To Work Day might surprise you!
Company Book Club
A company-wide book club is a great team-building opportunity, whether the book you choose is related to your company’s work or not. Inspirational business books are an excellent choice. You might even invite the author to visit the discussion or video chat with your team! Consider purchasing copies of the book for the entire company and planning book-related activities for discussion day.
Team-Building Activities During a Regular Meeting
Team building isn’t necessarily something that needs to be done as a standalone activity. You can introduce team-building activities into your daily work plan, including before meetings. Icebreaker games are a good way to loosen up before a long meeting or even in the middle of a meeting as a break. Be sure to tailor your icebreaker activities to the meeting and the attendees.
Ultimately, no matter which team-building activity you do, you want to make sure that it serves a purpose. Does the team-building activity actually help you achieve your goal? Use metrics to determine the success of your teams, get employee feedback on how they felt about the activities and keep trying. If a team-building activity is a dud, try again!