Money, time, and energy are wasted on team building games. Some expensive team-building activities provide the worst experiences to many underachieving teams.
I have encountered managers who, after purchasing team-building games, contacted me to help them put meaning and inspiration into each purchased game.
What was the common problem of these managers?
They failed to identify the objectives of their team building efforts. They are like headless chickens who wanted to keep on moving, and they were moving everywhere but went to nowhere.
So, I teach them how to conduct Positive Team Building. Positive Team Building improves your team’s effectiveness.
Let me tell you the first step among the many steps I told them to take.
BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Start with clear end point in mind. What specifically do you want your team to learn and accomplish?
Think well. You need to build your team according to your team purpose. You must set goals your team can achieve. You must aim for change which is both relevant and immediately doable. You must think of an attitude, skills, or processes your team can apply after your team building exercise.
Your team building exercises is only one of the many steps, and only one of many interventions, your team must undertake to improve performance. Remember, that there are many building blocks to team building and you cannot build them all in one exercise, and not in one day.
OBJECTIVES FIRST, THEN EXERCISES
Many facilitators tweak their favorite games to customize your team building workshops. While I admit that this can really be done by experts, you will be more effective by keeping your eyes on your objectives.
Find exercises that match your objectives. Look for guidebooks and field books on team building. Search for team building activities on Youtube and websites on team building. Pick the activities that will achieve your objectives.
Sometimes, you have to combine some activities to meet your objectives. Proper sequencing of the activities will also help your team make sense of all the activities.
When your purpose is compelling and clear, you will also find it easy to “create” your own games and activities. Many of the games that I have used are “improved versions” of what I found in many team building books. Sometimes, popular games produce the worst team building exercises. But you can always flip them over when you know your objectives and when you understand the principles of team building.
COOPERATION, NOT COMPETITION
My principle: You compete against a challenge, not against each other.
Competition can be a good thing. It can excite, energize, and challenge people to participate during your team building exercises.
However, do not assume that competition is best for everyone. It can deflate and discourage. Competition can defeat the purpose of your team building exercise. You do not want an intramural or infighting. Many dysfunctional teams have trust issues. They tend to complain about “cheating” and “dishonesty” of other teams. Unfortunately, many team building exercises are run like college intramural.
To ensure that you have a healthy dose of competition, choose activities that will not make them compete against each other. Let them compete against the clock. Let them hurdle difficult challenges and let them realize that they can learn from each other. Let them feel the need for each other; let them realize that all of them can win by working together.
Remember, run Positive Team Building exercises begin with the end in mind.
P.S. You can come up with team building programs which support your business objectives. Competency-based programs are powerful and many managers fail to experience them. Get more team building ideas at Build Great Teams.
My name is Jef Menguin. I am professional team building facilitator in the Philippines. I also help organizations implement leadership development programs, improve customer experiences, and solve problems through design thinking.
I have conducted leadership training programs in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, and the Philippines.