Team building activities should be productive, not uncomfortable

Creative DirectorGery L. Deer uses his whip arts skills to present team building activities.

Creative Director Gery L. Deer uses his whip arts skills to present team building activities.

Team building activities should be fun and challenging where the byproduct of the process is to help improve productivity within a group. Often, it is a challenge to get people on board with an endless string of uncomfortable, touchy-feely activities that only serve to cause them to bond over their ridiculousness. Wherever possible, most team-building leaders do their best to find activities and exercises that get people to interact more organically, without the “rouse.”

One of the first questions you should be asking as an organizational leader or business owner is, “What is the goal of the exercise?” If there’s no clear purpose it may not be a good time to do these kinds of events. Identify where and how communication and problem solving are breaking down within the organization and choose activities that address those areas specifically.

There are literally hundreds of team building exercises that can be modified and adapted to meet specific objectives. Prepackaged activities are fine, but should be modified to suit individual goals. Most team building activities fall into four categories based on purpose and result orientation.

  1. Communication
  2. Problem Solving / Decision Making
  3. Adaptability / Planning
  4. Trust Building

Keep in mind that volunteers in a non-profit or employees in a company are not soldiers in the military or kids at summer camp. Management should never use fear or threaten employees that their job may hinge on participation in team building activities. Try, instead to impress upon your employees the importance of everyone working together and provide appropriate incentives.

Contrary to what some team building consultants may suggest, personal contact can make people uncomfortable and may be inappropriate in a business setting for any number of reasons, regardless of the purpose. Try to avoid doing activities that require violating personal space or need physical contact. Team building isn’t marriage counseling. It only works when people feel comfortable enough to participate. Ice breaker activities can help with this, but often, those activities which require extremely close personal contact or full-on touching will never be comfortable for some.

A number of common team building activities are figurative tasks designed, through metaphor, to demonstrate how working together more effectively can benefit the group. Instead of overdone metaphors, it might be better instead to create exercises that directly relate to day-to-day activities and illustrate exactly how communication may be breaking down or decision making could be improved.

GLD Enterprises can help facilitate various team-building activities in conjunction with GLD Enterprises & Productions and The Whip Artistry Studio in Jamestown, Ohio. For more information and ideas on team building activities contact our office at 937-902-4857. In the meantime, check out these links for more helpful information.

Here’s our creative director, Gery Deer on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton with a special “Team Building” segment …

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