Getting individuals to bond into a cohesive team brings winning performance. Here are some good ideas for team bonding activities that used the shared experience approach.
Why Team Bonding Activities are Important
All successful teams have the right balance of people who are prepared to work for the common good of the team, showing respect for each other. When you are building a new team, one of the first steps needed is to get the individual members of the team to bond into a cohesive unit. It is important to generate an easy going friendly atmosphere. You have to try to create an atmosphere where all ideas are respected and conversation is open to all suggestions. This is easier if team members can relate to each other as people rather than simply as colleagues. This can only be done if they spend time outside of the usual environment where they work together.
Team bonding activities are a way of allowing the team members to spend time together to get to know each other. As people get to know one another better, they will relax and start to feel at ease with the team. This will allow a sense of loyalty and cohesion to develop.
What Form Should Team Bonding Activities Take?
Traditionally, team bonding activities were seen as going on a team building session where the team had to endure some arduous activity that most hated. There are truly limits to taking people out of their comfort zone!
“What works well for team bonding activities are those activities that happen away from the normal workplace and where the team get to have a shared learning experience.”
When planning team bonding activities, you have to know the physical abilities of the team, as well as their tastes and preferences for different activities and pastimes. Team weekends and corporate retreats are a good way of facilitating team bonding. A corporate retreat should not be considered to be a vacation. Although you can provide the incentive of time on a golf course, maybe skiing in the mountains or being somewhere exotic, staff should be made aware that they are there for a specific purpose.
Whichever form of corporate retreat you decide to undertake, ensure that you communicate a clear and defined purpose or goal.
Provide the Right Environment for Creativity
Whitewater rafting team bonding in New Zealand
Please, please, please do not force staff to be completely out of their comfort zone. Some corporate team building advocates insist that the only way to get teams to think differently is to create a challenge that employees must rise to. Oh how wrong they are.
I have heard so many tales of staff hating being forced to go above and beyond the call of duty by going on long hikes, mud scrambles or the torture of building yet another drinking straw tower. Yes it is good to challenge people’s thinking, but you must support them to fulfil their potential.
If you have a room full of tech geeks, set them a problem that appeals to their inquisitive minds that a solution must exist. If you have a cluster of sales and marketing staff, appeal to their competitive spirit. But make it seem achievable so that employees get into the flow.
By providing the right balance of challenge against skill, as long as a solution seems achievable, you will be amazed at how engaged your workforce will be on your corporate retreat.
Ideas for Team Bonding Activities
Learn a new sporting activity
Learning a new sport is a good way to get your team to bond. Some people may not have done the sport before, whilst others will have a varying degree of expertise. Encourage those with skills to teach the beginners. Buddy up beginners together so that they learn together. This will foster a strong bond through the shared experience and most likely having a laugh together. It is important that everyone respects the skills that others do and don’t have. Avoid ridicule. You want to foster a supportive environment.
Food is always a good idea when getting a team to bond. Most cities have somewhere to go for group cooking sessions. You can find some that specifically cater for team events and parties. Your team can work together to cook up something wonderful, or compete in smaller groups to encourage that competitive spirit.
For teenagers and students, you can organise a restaurant fund raising evening where the youth plan, prepare, cook and serve a three course meal to paying guests. I have run several of these and they are always successful at getting the team to bond, as long as there is some oversight to keep the team on track. Any squabbles should be dealt with quickly and solutions found.
One of the best team building activities is yacht sailing. A team of 8-10 on board a 40 foot sailing yacht have to learn to work together simply to get the boat moving, so not only is it obvious when the team is pulling together but it is a brilliant, fun day out!
Your team will have to listen to the skipper’s instructions to understand their role in the bigger picture, they need to perform their own role but simultaneously communicate clearly with their team mates. As the yacht gains speed, the wind-noise makes conversation harder, so clear communication is key – using words that sound different and avoiding instructions which could be mis-interpreted (such as “Go!” and “No!”).
Team Bonding Games
Team bonding games are another way to get a team to gel. Games that often work well are those that everyone can do but has a more level playing field. Instead of soccer, you can play crab football. Crab football is played just like soccer, but all players have to be on their hands and feet facing upwards at all times. This makes it much more fun and a good for team bonding.
Blanket volleyball is another good team bonding game. Use a large tarp or blanket for the net so that the teams cannot see the other side. This makes it a bit more surprising every time the ball comes over the net.
Other team games such as chariot races where all team members have to work together to achieve a goal are good. Games such as capture the flag don’t always work because it allows some people to drop out or not participate.
More Ways to Develop Team Bonding
For more good ideas for team bonding activities, read the full team building activities list.