Team Building Event Tips: 10 Innovative Ideas for Successful Team Building Events

Team building can give a powerful boost to the spirit and effectiveness of any group. Well designed and delivered teambuilding programs can lead to better understanding, clearer alignment and much stronger motivation.

Organizing a “team building event” is a big responsibility. Use these ideas to make your event a well-planned and memorable success.

1. Set the Tone With an Inspiring Theme:

Telegraph the tone and purpose of your event with a theme that hits the mark. “The Third Annual Team building Program” is not going to excite many participants. Here are examples of themes my recent clients have to motivate and communicate their teams: “Rocket to the Top, Together!” (for a software company seeking to achieve dominant market share), “The Winning Team” (for a financial services company seeking to overcome competitors and economic adversity), “Forging a New Alliance” (for a medical services group managing a reorganization of roles and departments).

 2. Prime the Pump for Full Participation:

Use internal communications to get everyone interested and ready for the event. Use memos, bulletin boards, posters and internal meetings to arouse people’s curiosity.

You might circulate a list of objectives and issues for the meeting. You might conduct a survey prior to the meeting, announcing actual results during the program. You might task certain individuals with preparing a business presentation, or selected teams with creating and rehearsing an entertainment item.

 3. Conduct the Program Off-Site:

Major team building programs are frequently conducted “off-site”. This allows participants to get away from the workplace physically (minimizing disruptions) and mentally (opening their thinking to new points of view).

 4. Use a Mix of Energy, Enterprise and Entertainment:

Stimulate interest and get involvement by using a full range of team building activities. You may have “hard work” sections with speeches about the future and workshops on current business problems. You may have “play hard” sections with team games and outdoor challenges. You may include social ingredients through mealtime activities, awards and entertainment.

Be sure your range of activities are well-sequenced throughout the day and evening. Be especially careful to follow lunches with activity, and to end your program on a note of confidence and commitment.

 5. Allow Enough Time to Process, Discuss and Apply

Allow enough time between each activity for discussion, learning and application back to the job. It’s better to have a full day with two team building games and enough time for discussion, than a “stuffed” day with three or four games with little time for reflection.

 6. Focus on New Actions with “More”, “Less”, “Start” and “Stop”:

During the program, have participants develop clear answers to the following questions:

“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to do more of?”

“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to do less of?”

“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to start doing?”

“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to stop doing?”

Towards the end of the program, participants can make another list of personal commitments:

“What am I committed to do more of?”

“What am I committed to do less of?”

“What am I committed to start doing?”

“What am I committed to stop doing?”

 7. Use Photographs and Video to Extend the Program’s Impact:

Engage a photographer and/or videographer to document your team building program. Give copies of photographs to participants after the event. Post the best photographs on your bulletin boards, in the cafeteria, or publish them in the company newsletter. If you put them up on your company’s World Wide Web site, then staff’s family members can log-in and view them from home.

Have the videotape edited with music and some snappy graphics. Show this short but entertaining vignette at another company meeting, social gathering, dinner and dance, etc.

 8. Harness the Power of Peripheral Players:

When selecting participants for your program, be willing to include those tangentially related to the core group. Internal customers, suppliers, neighboring departments, etc. can all yield a few participants who are “closely related” to your core group.

These “peripheral players” will often add significant value, perspective and insight to your program. They can also help with communication back into the organization after the event is over.

 9. Get Personal:

Make sure everyone sees the link between “group team building” and “individual actions” on the job. Have each person complete a commitment card, action planning list, personal promise statement or some other vehicle to ensure application of appropriate new behaviors. Closing a team building program by having everyone share their list is a good way to gain buy-in from individuals, and the entire group.

 10. Reward the Organizers:

Planning and preparing a team building program is a major undertaking. Be sure to give recognition to those who did the work “behind the scenes”. A small but thoughtful gift, given in front of everyone at the end of the program, will be appreciated and remembered.