Workplace Team Building Events: What You Need to Know to Make Them Successful


Participating in a workplace team-building exercise can either bring your office or organization together or tick people off. Whether you roll your eyes at the idea of participating in team-building exercises or get excited over it depends not only on what type of team-building event is planned, but also what you have gone through in the past.

If you have undergone a team-building event that went awry, like a “trust fall” where nobody caught you, or a disastrous event that could have been planned by Michael Scott at “The Office’s” Dunder Mifflin, you may naturally be not too keen about doing such group bonding events with your co-workers. Or, perhaps, you are the manager, and you would like to plan team-building events, but are getting a bit of resistance from your staff.

Here are some things you need to know when it comes to planning or participating in such events:

Think about what you want to achieve 

Do you want to increase communication? Get staffers to know each other? Iron out conflicts? Have a reason for the team-building before you do it. This can help guide what you end up doing.

Pay for the event with the office budget

It is not much of a team-building event if you make your staff not only take part in it, but also pay for it. If you cannot afford to use the office budget for the event, then you may want to downsize your ideas; if you make the staff pay for the opportunity, you are going to receive some rolled eyes and angry attitudes in return, not to mention the possibility of some people refusing to even show up.

Try to appeal to different age groups and demographics

You should think of an exercise that most, if not all, of your staff will enjoy—the idea is to get the team involved. Given that, it is not a good idea to aim at only one age group or demographic.  Sure, you may not always be able to appeal to everyone, by try to appeal to most people. For example, planning an event centered around the Eagles’ music may appeal to you and some of your managers, but not staffers born in the last 30 years.  If you can’t plan a team-building event that everyone will like, then try to have multiple team-building events in which those people who were not crazy about Event A may like Event B or Event C.

Be careful about having people compete with each other

While some good-natured competition may seem okay, it could deteriorate into problems and do the opposite of team building. So you want to make sure that you keep the focus on team building, not team destroying. If you do have separate groups of people competing, like with bowling, be sure to mix up the teams after every game so that other people get to compete against each other.

Don’t do anything where people could get injured

Skydiving or deep-sea diving may sound like a great idea for team bonding. But what happens if somebody gets hurt? You may want to keep your aspirations to flat ground when it comes to such activities. In addition, you might want to talk to an executive coach about what would make the best team-building activities, to make sure your ideas will fly.

About The Author

Lisa Swan writes for Institute for Coaching, a life, executive and career coaching site.