How to Choose the Best Team Building Activities, Part 3

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In the previous two weeks, we have discussed the process for choosing team building activities for your team and how to go about it the best way.  When many people consider these kinds of activities, there is little thought that goes into the process of choosing these kinds of exercises.

Activities are chosen based on whether or not they seem like fun or if they group will “like” the activity.  This is the wrong way to choose these events, especially if you want to move your team forward and really challenge them to work together better, communicate more effectively, and increase the team’s productivity.

Throughout Part 1 and Part 2, I hope that you see the benefit in taking time and being intentional when it comes to choosing the best team building activities for your team.  In part one of this series, we talked about the different kinds of team building exercises that exist and how each of them are typically used.

In part two, we discussed evaluating your team, looking at their strengths and weaknesses before doing anything, and then setting goals for your team based on their strong areas and areas that need work.  There are specific 

Step #3: Choose Appropriate Activities

Now that you have an understanding of the different types of team challenges you can choose from, and how to think about those activities in light of your team goals, now you can begin to choose the appropriate activities for your day(s).

This will take a little bit of research and some time.  You want to choose the activity (or activities) that will best bring out the issue you want to work on.

Example #1

Your team needs to work on communication issues.  They communicate well with their own groups, but when it comes to communicating between teams, that’s where the breakdown occurs.  You want to teach your team that communication is critical and there are multiple paths of communication.

You tweak an activity so that the group cannot talk while completing it and must remain silent during the entire challenge.  They have to come up with alternative ways to communicate to complete the activity.

Example #2

You have a couple of strong personalities on your team that are keeping other people from taking on leadership roles.  These quieter team mates may try to step up, but typically get run over.

You know they have good ideas and want to encourage them to step up more and also convince the outspoken leaders that they are not the only ones with great ideas and leadership capabilities.  You tweak an activity that puts a “handicap” on the outspoken team members so that others will be forced to lead out.

Step #4: Outline the Event

After you have evaluated your team, set your goals, and selected your activities, you want to outline the event.  The best way to use these kinds of experiential activities is in a way that builds on each other.  Icebreaker activities are usually done first, building your way up to more difficult team and individual challenges.  Problem-solving and survival scenarios can be used as breaks from some of the more intense team challenges.

It’s always better to plan too many activities than too few.  If some of the activities go shorter than expected, then you have more to pull from, and if some run long, then you can save the ones not used for another time.  This is not the time to run out of things to do!  It’s better to keep the momentum going and the group engaged.

Plan for plenty of time for each activity.  You probably want to schedule at least 20-30 minutes for each icebreaker activity, 30-45 minutes for group initiatives, and 45-60 minutes for more intense team challenges.

You also want to plan plenty of time to debrief and process each activity after the team has completed them.  Depending on the activity and desired area of focus (communication, problem-solving, leadership skills, etc.), you may want to take longer to debrief and hone in on those specific problem areas.

There are multiple ways to debrief a group, and that is a post we’ll save for another time.  There are creative ways to process an experience, as well as traditional ways.  If you want to go the more traditional route and need some ideas for debriefing questions, here are a few debrief questions you can ask:

As you went through completing the activity, what are some things that worked for your group?

What didn’t work?

What is something you would change if you could go back and do it over again?

What did you learn about your team mates or yourself during this activity?

What communication strategies did you concentrate on throughout this challenge?

Did everyone feel that your ideas were heard and acknowledged?

I hope this gives you an idea about the time and effort it takes to truly make a team building event be all that it can be.  Whether it’s a partial-day or multi-day event, use these suggestions to choose the best activities for your team and help grow them to the next level.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

What other suggestions do you have for choosing team building activities?  What has worked for you and your team in the past? 

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