Corporate Team Building Activities That Actually Build Teams

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"Hi! I'm Heidi, your Team Building Trainer! We're here to do some corporate team building activities! So, everyone pick a partner — someone you don't know!"

Are you rolling your eyeballs, sighing, and not-so-secretly wishing your kid's school calls to tell you you have to come pick up your child? Because let's face it, many team building activities seem to be led by people who don't actually have any work to do and don't really understand how to do work with others. Sick kids are preferable to this kind of team building.

But strong teams are a good thing, so here are five corporate team building activities that actually work (and are even fun, for most people).

1. Scavenger Hunts

These aren't just for children's birthday parties. A good scavenger hunt takes your team around the city in search of clues. There are commercially available scavenger hunts or your HR team can make one up, but it can be a lot of work.

A scavenger hunt works because it requires people to work together. If one person can solve all the clues without input from co-workers, then it's not a good scavenger hunt. As teams work together to solve problems, people get to know each other and learn things about their each other they might not have known before. This can help build your team because it builds empathy.

2. PowerPoint Karaoke

To prepare for this event, search for random PowerPoint presentations on the internet. The further afield from your actual business the better. For example, if you're in real estate, good presentations on waste management or the pharmaceutical sector are what you're looking for. For the activity, pick a random presentation, and everyone looks like a fool when trying to interpret data and graphs that they know nothing about. This brings about laughter, and laughter can be the best medicine for team building. Sheeren Richter, the self-described Laughter Coach, says that laughter can make you feel good and build good relationships. Just be aware that this may not be a good activity for an introverted team who may view it as embarrassing. Know your team before you plan the activity!

3. Physical Activity

This can be anything from learning to row a dragon boat to climbing a rock wall. The important thing is that people need to work together. Telling everyone to go jogging isn't generally a team building activity. Keep in mind that you need to choose an activity that fits the skill set of your team. Most people aren't going to be ready to scale the Alps, but can do a game of volleyball.

Sports are teamwork in a different environment — you have to work together in order to beat the other team. Business is inherently competitive, so it can channel competitiveness in a different outlet. A word of caution here is that employees with disabilities may not be able to participate in physical activity team building games. If that's the case, pick something else.

4. Office Trivia

This is not for new hires, but it can be for new teams — as long as everyone has worked in the organization for a while. Computer software firm Wrike suggests pulling together a group of questions about your office and organization — how many computer monitors there are, when was the organization founded, what's the name of the CEO's pet? Put people into teams and watch them compete — game show style.

You're asking questions about the organization, but not about anybody's individual work. It can bring forth the all important laughter and demonstrate powers of observation. Be careful not to use questions to criticize any employee (who was late the most often last year?) though, or you could divide your team instead of building it.

5. Construction Team Building

Give your group some material and ask them to build something. This can be a box of Lego bricks with the challenge to build the highest structure possible, or a bag of drinking straws with the instruction to build a bridge that can hold the office stapler. Divide people into groups, set the timer and go!

Most likely, your business has a lot of knowledge workers. Working with your hands stimulates additional parts of your brain. This is good for expanding your mind as well as giving people the chance to show off their rarely-used Lego talents.

No matter what team building exercise you choose, make sure it makes sense for your group. If it doesn't, your employees won't be happy to participate, and then it's a waste of time.

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