Team-Building - One Game Activity That Is Virtually Free!

by L. M. Goodwin - Date: 2007-04-26 - Word Count: 738 Share This!

Choosing the right team building activity for your group of workers can be tricky. You have to take into consideration what the current relationships are in your organization. With any activity, consider the effect you want to have on those relationships and whether the activity you entertain is likely to have the desired effect.

If everyone tends to like each other and get along well, nearly any fun or entertaining group activity will foster stronger bonds among co-workers. The key is simply to help them participate in a shared experience. But what do you do if there are strained relationships within the ranks? Or shy people who tend to exclude themselves?

Geoff ran a small company with 15 employees. Geoff, wanted to form bonds between his employees but also knew he needed to improve a couple of conflict prone relationships. Among them, there was a cluster of 4 or 5 who were good friends, but who alienated others. There were a few on his staff who seemed to get along with everyone, and there were two young men who, although they were good workers, did not really seem to fit in with the others. These boys seemed to rub others the wrong way. Geoff's solution? He decided to have a company barbeque. Geoff reasoned "If I get them all together in a social situation, outside of the work place, they will have a chance to get to know each other, and then they will get along and be happier at work." It was no surprise to me that Geoff's plan backfired. Workers who were already comfortable with each other separated into groups. In the end, Geoff had unwittingly encouraged the formation of three very separate and distinct cliques. All of them felt quite justified alienating the rest. Not quite the result Geoff had hoped for.

In a situation like Geoff's, a team building activity by necessity must not allow the people who are participating to directly focus on themselves or others within the group (or afford them time to talk about each other in smaller groups). Geoff needed to place the group in a situation where the focus of their attention would be specifically on the activity itself, thus giving them all a shared experience that they could build friendships on.

For companies that have little money to spend on activities for their staff, there are some things that you can do with a little time investment.

One of my favorites is the Team Photo Hunt. The idea is a simple one. Car groups of 4 or 5 are given a long list of 'team photos' to collect within two hours. The team with the most photos on the list at the end of the game wins! This hunt, with a time limit is a great way to force some light hearted interaction between coworkers.

Put some thought into the photo list. This exercise can also be a great opportunity for your people to work on their sales skills, people skills or negotiating skills. So make sure that Some of the photos on the list force your people to step outside of their comfort zones, interact with strangers in ways that are not typical for them or negotiate with complete strangers. These 'outside the comfort zone' photos could each be counted as 2 photos.

Here are some examples for 'outside the comfort zone' photos:

- photo of all team members performing "I'm a little tea pot" in a local donut shop;
- photo of at least 2 team members hand cuffed and sitting in the back of a police cruiser;
- photo of each team member individually offering strangers a quarter on the street;
- photo of a team member hugging a local celebrity (mayor, local TV personality)

To ensure success, make the list of photos longer than the teams could possibly collect in 2 hours.

Following the photo scavenger hunt, a company barbeque would have greater potential to have the kind of results Geoff was originally looking for. Teams, having completed the hunt, have stories of their adventure and excitement to share with all of the people who were not with their team. If each team was using a digital camera, there are now photos of the fun to share with the rest of the crew. It is a formula for a teambuilding activity that will make sure everyone feels included and involved in the shared experience that they can all reflect on, and joke about for months to come.

Related Tags: exercise, free, team building, activity, game, corporate team building, overcoming conflicts

L.M. Goodwin is President and CEO of Rabid Entertainment Inc. Rabid Entertainment Inc. specializes in teambuilding games and activities for corporate groups in and around the Calgary area.

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