Team Building 101

Team-building tips that will elevate your Network or Produce meeting.

Team-building activities have long been a popular way to facilitate bonds and increase trust and communication between members of groups. But these days, old-school games such as hot-dog-eating contests and egg-drop races have taken a backseat to more innovative pursuits that specifically target different industries and meeting goals. “When bonds run deep, teams are more collaborative and more caring of each other, which makes them more effective and productive,” says David Goldstein, the founder of TeamBonding, a leading team-building and training company, with offices in New York City, Chicago, Boston and New York. “Team building through play allows individuals and teams to learn new skills and build relationships by actually doing things.” We couldn’t agree more! Here are four new ideas to incorporate into your meeting or event.

 

Team Wall Art

Working together to create a large-scale mural or piece of art can be a great way to strengthen bonds and generate lasting memories. It also produces a permanent work that can be displayed at an office or even somewhere in the community, providing a constant reminder of the meeting’s objective. Goldstein recommends using large 12- or 20-foot canvases, which members can paint or even spray paint to create a graffiti-like work (just make sure to do this in an outdoor space or a large open area with good ventilation). “This is a great activity for smaller teams who are looking for something creative and custom,” Goldstein says.

 

Escape Rooms

Escape rooms — a physical adventure game where players are locked in a space and have to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape within a certain time frame — originated in Japan in 2007 and have expanded worldwide as a unique team-building activity. These large-scale escape rooms can now be delivered to hotel banquets and ballrooms. “Teams must uncover mysteries, solve cerebral puzzles and collaborate with each other to make their way out, all under time pressure,” Goldstein explains. Players learn to work with people with different skills to reach a common goal, communicate in unfamiliar situations and adjust to changing circumstances.

 

Speed Networking

“I once did a dinner where people would change dining companions after each course as a way for singles to meet other singles,” Goldstein explains. “I realized that it is also a great way for people to meet 30 to 40 other people enjoying dinner in a ballroom.” This excellent team-building icebreaker is the perfect way to start a conference or multiday event, beginning with a cocktail party incorporating a fun game, followed by a fast-paced dinner where guests share a different table with different people for each course — appetizer, salad, main course and dessert — with accompanying tabletop games and exercises for everyone to do together. It will encourage interaction while improving networking and team skills.

 

Do-Gooders

Creating care packages that can be donated to hospitals or homeless shelters or to people in need is a great team-building activity that pays it forward. Leaders can develop a series of games designed to both educate and entertain that, in the end, produce packages filled with helpful items and goodies that can be sent nationwide. Programs can be tailored specifically to the organization to complement their business, core values and interests.