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14 Things Your Team-Building Activity Needs To Succeed

Article form-Forbes Coaches Council

14 Things Your Team-Building Activity Needs To Succeed

Team-building exercises — from trust falls and blindfolds to zombie races and construction tasks — are a long-standing method to help a group get to know each other better. There is, however, a great deal else going on other than the activity itself. Facilitators need to worry about creating feelings of trust, safety and connection among participants, while also making sure to communicate what the goals of the activities are.

So which elements are key to an event’s success? Fourteen members of Forbes Coaches Council offer their advice on what they find crucial to team-building success.

1. Trust

For team-building activities to be successful, participants must be able to let down their guards and engage, which requires a level of trust. Once members of the team trust the environment, facilitator and one another, they will more easily be inclined to trust the process of the activity. - Amanda Miller Littlejohn, Package Your Genius Academy

2. Collaboration

Team building is a collaborative process requiring its members to be on the same page and willing to commit to an agreed-upon process. By prioritizing cooperative engagement and assuring command of respective roles and responsibilities, group norms, decision-making and problem-solving processes, a facilitator is far more likely to achieve successful outcomes and build cohesive teams that thrive. - Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., WordSmithRapport

3. Willingness

I love team building. It's a great way to build relationships and create a foundation that can drive great results. However, team members must all be open and willing to build those relationships first of their own will and interest. Leaders and peers can't force teams to develop no matter how times they go to lunch or complete a company-sponsored obstacle course activity. - Jessica Miller-Merrell, Workology

4. Feelings Of Connection

I've been through more trust falls and drum circles than I care to count. What makes these activities successful is the ability to laugh at the absurdity and a willingness to let go of the content. In my experience, the content is merely the vehicle for prompting conversation, connection and vulnerability. Get people together, let them feel something, and the success will take care of itself. - Julie Colbrese, Hot Coffee Coaching

5. Fun

Not only is team building in itself essential to bringing members together, but there needs to be a sense of fun, too. If people aren’t enjoying themselves, the team will not bond and grow. Choose an activity that will bring fun for all members, and remember to bring joy to the activity. - Regan Hillyer, Regan Hillyer International

6. Equality

An expression one of my military friends used was that the best discussions come from putting your rank on the table. In other words, lower your ego, forget your titles and be a team player during a team-building situation. Forget your superior role if you are a leader, and be ready to do the dirty work and serve others. Above all, let others see you have some fun with them. - John O'Connor, Career Pro Inc.

7. Safe Environment

Trusting strangers is hard. Calling a group a team doesn’t make them one. In my 40 years as a CEO and coach, I have seen effective teams and ineffective groups (often labeled a team). The difference is that real teams members feel safe because they know and trust one other. Groups, not so much. Getting acquainted in a safe environment is essential to building effective teams. - Judy Nelson, Judy Nelson

8. Bridging Activities To Objectives

For a team-building activity to be successful, you must tie the activity to the business goals of your participants. The purpose of team-building activities is to be disruptive, yes. However, if you fail to foster a post-activity conversation about business goal relevance, you will miss the mark. A healthy mix is 40% of time on activity and 60% on bridging back to current business objectives. - Derek Matthews, Ph.D., Character Quest

9. Staging

Setting the stage properly is important. What needs are you trying to meet by doing this activity together? Is everyone clear on this? Once that is set, the second most important thing for me is creating safety for the participants. I like to do this by doing a check-in activity and then talking the group through a set of working agreements they feel they need for safety and openness. - Steffan Surdek, Pyxis Technologies

10. Everyone Gives Input

Successful teams must work collaboratively and feel comfortable sharing. Without opportunity to share thoughts and ideas — and a chance to be truly heard — dissension can build instead of the team itself. Create opportunities for team members to contribute to processes, policy creation, and strategies through various avenues and activities. Value and acknowledge all input. - Adrienne Tom, Career Impressions

11. Secrecy

When I conduct team development workshops, I often ask people to write down answers to team-related questions with the promise that these will remain secret if they want. Later, participants are asked to divulge only what they feel comfortable sharing. After a critical mass of revelations occurs, the secrets begin to disappear and — voila! — trust emerges. It begins with secrecy. - James Lopata, InnerOvation

12. Clearly State Why

When working with teams, the one question that I am repeatedly asked while the leader is out of the room is "So why are we really here?" If team building isn't something you do often, employees can be skeptical and on the defense. It's important that leaders provide a thoughtful and meaningful reason as to why they are gathering the team and the clear objectives that they hope to achieve. - Stacy Campesi, SLC Coaching

13. Respect

For team-building activities to be successful, many things are important, but none of them are as important as respect. A person may not like a person they work with, but if they respect them, it will go a long way to building trust in the team. Mutual respect is at the heart of every relationship. - Venessa Marie Perry, Health Resource Solutions, LLC

14. T.E.A.M.

T - Trust: They trust each other or see the activity as a way to build respectful relationships. E - Engagement: They enthusiastically contribute their unique talents to the activity. A - Aspiration: They have a shared, purposeful goal, even if it's frivolous. M - Mentoring: They embrace the opportunity to learn from and teach each other. - Diane Chang, Diane Chang Coaching


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