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Why these common team-building activities do not work

Nulab Staff

Nulab Staff

March 06, 2020

If you’ve ever been tasked with planning team-building activities, then you might already have some creative ideas for ways to up the camaraderie among your internal team.

Unfortunately, many popular team-building activities and icebreakers do not offer the best return on your precious time and money.

To help you avoid some common team-bonding pitfalls, here are activities that you shouldn’t be turning to.

Undirected all-hands meetings

We all know that we could use fewer meetings in our calendars – and many industry leaders are getting vocal about it.

But “all-hands” meetings that bring everyone together for problem-solving seem like a good idea – at least on paper.

Unfortunately, things aren’t so cut and dry.

All-hands meetings can be an invaluable way to get teams to talk to one another! But they need to have the following to be effective:

  • An agreed agenda. Every meeting should have a plan. Ideally, you should circulate these details beforehand so team members know what to expect and can come prepared for discussions.

Additionally, team leaders may wish to deliver various status updates. For the meeting to have a bonding effect, contributions but be relevant to all those attending.

  • A reasonable length. The ideal length for a meeting is approximately 15 minutes. There are a few reasons behind this. For one, it’s easier to find the time to sit in on a 15-minute meeting than one that may last up to an hour. Additionally, research shows that most people can’t pay attention for longer than 10-18 minutes. Go over, and team members can no longer process information as effectively or efficiently.

Boring company “fun” days

Many companies plan excursions as a fun way to build rapport among team members who might not otherwise have much work-related interaction.

These can be valuable ways for small and large groups to bond. But like any trip, they require a bit of planning to execute well.

Firstly, to find an activitythat most team members are going to engage with and enjoy. Nothing makes team bonding harder than half of the participants having a miserable time.

In fact, it’s a good idea to circulate some ideas before booking a team-building activity. Use an online surveying tool to make sure the decision is democratically and transparently decided upon.

Here are some ideas for your next fun team-building activity or excursion — and some notes about who might or might not like them.

  • Team Building: Team building activities often get a bad rap for being cliche, childish, or awkward, but with the right planning, they can be successful. Some classic examples include collaborative activities that get the team to work together using problem-solving skills like an egg drop. Or outdoor activities that boost company morale, like scavenger hunts or trust falls. And group activities that are hands-on, like escape rooms.

Not all team-building activities are right for everyone, though; you have to consider everyone’s needs and wants, as well as their physical capabilities. For example, a competitive activity that involves high amounts of physical activity might not be the best fit.

  • Overnight getaways: Team building exercises can be extra exciting if they involve staying the night in another location. While fun games away from home might appeal to younger unattached team members, it’s important to consider the needs of those with families and children. They might not be able to take the time away from their commitments and could feel left out if they’re one of the few not in attendance.

Team bonding exercises without debriefs

While team bonding can be a lot of fun, it’s essential to understand these activities are still taking place within a workplace context and not a purely social one.

Great team-building exercises can spark and encourage communication and collaboration, which results in employees becoming more engaged in their work and boosts company culture and success.

Here are some tools you can use to document any ideas:

  • Diagrams: These can be drawn out on paper or captured with a digital tool like our software, Cacoo.
  • Lists: Every project contains a series of tasks, team members responsible, and delivery dates. While that information can all be captured very eloquently through our project management tool, Backlog, it can be just as valuable to capture it in a ‘first-entry’ format on some initial paper or electronic-based capturing system.

After a day of team bonding activities, it’s vital to build in a formal debrief session. This will prompt team members to think about the lessons learned so that they can apply the takeaways effectively.

Bond well, bond smart

Team-building activities are terrific initiatives to help large or small groups get out of their comfort zone and improve their communication skills. They have been shown to improve workplace satisfaction and heighten productivity. However, like all workday activities, you need to put thought into them to get these desirable effects.

Avoid common team bonding activity pitfalls such as poorly selected fun day activities, activities without debriefs, and poorly planned all-hands meetings. The result will be a more satisfactory working environment for all team members involved.



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