Teambuilding Strategies

Teambuilding activities, while being fun and unusual, have a dynamic impact on productivity, culture, teamwork and creativity -- when they are well conceived and executed. The trick is to carefully plan and design your exercises, just like any other firm project.
Preparation and Best Practices
Similar to other firm initiatives, team building activities have defined goals based on your assessment of your team's needs; perhaps derived from team or management interviews. Your measurements for success also should be predetermined so that after your event you will know if you met your objectives.
After deciding why you want to host a teambuilding activity, you need to take into consideration your team's size, budget, location, time allocation, personalities and abilities.  Your leadership's buy-in is also important, as well as their assurance that they will participate in the exercise thereby conveying their commitment to the group.  Then at the end of the activity you can close the loop by building in a review for participants to share what they learned and discuss how it relates to the work place.
Sample Goals and Activities
While teambuilding exercises are business focused, they can be fun too. This allows you to not only meet your business goals, but also to reward your team for their hard work. 
One example of a fun activity that stimulates communications, problem solving, trust building and confidence skills is a Tyrolean Traverse building activity (crossing through free space between two high points on a rope without a hanging cart or cart equivalent ). The hitch is that everyone is given instructions they cannot share but must execute in order for the project to be a success.     
Other sample goals and fun activities that support those goals (but that keep everyone's feet on the ground) include:

Goal - Improve teamwork:
  • Team cuisines cooking class - a contest between teams to make the best food
  • Softball
  • Scavenger hunt
    Paint ball session
Goal - Boost morale, encourage employees to bond, create a friendly work environment, and reward employees for their hard work:
  • Murder mystery party
  • Beer or wine tasting event
  • Lunch or dinner
  • Bowling
  • Team cooking without recipes
Goal - Improve relationships and knowledge of each other's contributions:
  • Set up stations with mini-samples of each department/group's work/firm contributions; participants walk around and visit the displays
  • Distribute a list of questions (starting with something fun like what is your most embarrassing moment and becoming more personal like what is the most important decision you have had to make) and share the answers as a large group or in several small groups
Goal - Flexible thinking and time management skills: 
  • Training class
  • Cooking competition with recipes but some ingredients are missing, there is not enough equipment for all, and there is a time limit

Helena Meg Lawrence is a marketing project manager at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

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