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When it comes to team building activities for the workplace, organizations are sometimes at a loss—what team building activities to do?—even wondering what benefit team building activities actually have for their employees and for the workplace. Why is this?

Managers think team building activities are a waste of time. This is false; according to this Harvard Business Review blog post from renowned leadership guru Marshall Goldsmith, team-building activities are at times less than efficient (the post has excellent tips for creating a more effective process, by the way), which could give rise to this mentality. However, team-building activities, when done right, are more critical than ever.

“Team building activities can’t be done virtually or across cultures.” False – This blog from Wharton indicates that although challenges may exist with more diverse teams coming from more diverse locations, that actually makes team-building activities in the workplace (virtual or not) that much more important.

It is critical to differentiate between a group of individuals and an actual team, the difference being that teams rise above groups, with the existence of a shared purpose and shared commitment. This stems from knowing who is on your team, how they work and behave, and how to engender commonality, trust, and drive.

So here are three team building activities for the workplace to help bring groups to the level of ‘teams’:

  1. Tallest Tower Team Exercise: Teams compete to build the tallest tower possible in a 2-minute time span using only paper and tape. It’s all about communication and creativity.
  2. Taking a Vacation Team Exercise: Teams are put into groups based on similar ways of going about things—ideally, you would know the team’s Emergenetics Profiles and you could group them into their strongest thinking preferences. Ask each group to think about how they’d take a vacation and encourage them to base their responses on just one particular style of thinking (Analytical, Structural, Social or Conceptual). It’s all about understanding how teams can quickly fall into groupthink and how differently team members can approach issues based on their unique work, thinking, and personality styles.
  3. Team Accountability Exercise: This is less an exercise than an activity, but it is incredibly valuable for teams moving forward. After you’ve conducted either of the two team-building activities above (or any others), end with the Team Accountability Exercise. In this exercise, set up a chart pad and ask the team to identify five things that they learned and five things that they will commit to doing, moving forward, based on what they learned. It’s all about recognizing different perspectives, ensuring ongoing communication, and building accountability.

With these team building activities for the workplace, your teams can take a new approach to efficiency, communication, creativity, and accountability. It’s clear that team building activities are here to stay (and they should be), so the goal must be to maximize their effectiveness.


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