As with many work tasks, it is important to start by being clear about your objectives. How many times have you gone to see your doctor, said "I'm ill" and you've been given some "illness tablets"? None, of course. An examination of symptoms is required first, to identify the issues you need to address.
Similarly, the place to start in choosing team building exercises is to undertake an evaluation. If there are problems, you need to determine the causes. If there are no problems, you should identify how best to maintain or improve performance.
One way to identify problems in the team is to use our online Team Dynamics Assessment questionnaire.
The above questionnaires may help identify the area where the team needs to improve, but you now have to choose an exercise or activity that will help deliver that improvement.
There are thousands of team building exercises, too many to list here. The most popular team building exercises involve some kind of outdoor activities (see our page on team building activities for a comprehensive list of ideas). These are usually fun, but often suffer from the problem that it is difficult to translate the benefits back into the workplace.
For the most effective team building exercises, therefore, you need to have an integrated programme that combines outdoor events with ongoing activities in the workplace, such as:
Team building is not a single event that takes place offsite, but an ongoing process that takes place within the team over a long period of time. It is therefore important to choose activities that have aims/objectives that match the issues in your team, and make a long-term contribution to better teamworking.
When you then take a more detailed look at your short list of ideas, there are various things you need to think about:
Buy in from the team is very important, so it is usually better to make the decision as a team rather than just one individual decide.
After you use team building exercises, you should perform some kind of review or evaluation of their effectiveness, to inform your choice of exercise the next time.
©2013 Team Technology. Further articles/resources that may be of interest include: Personality Test, Personality Type Descriptions, Myers Briggs overview, The Basics of Team Building, What Career is Right for Me?, and Career ideas.