Meaningful Team Building Activities

By James Carter

In this article, James discusses team building and some activities that are outside the norm.  First there are a few examples of what we provide to create meaning in team building.  Secondly, there are a couple of DIY activities you can do to create meaningful team building.  Finally, James provides some thoughts about what creates meaningful team building.


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Assemble bicycles and give them to deserving children who would never otherwise own a bike!  Read More…

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Provide a child shoes for life so they can attend school! Read More…

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Team Building

Team building plays a major part in getting people understands and work together harmoniously. It is a process wherein its main objective is to build and develop cooperation and teamwork within a specific work unit.

It is also an integral part of corporate world or of any organization that needs and aims to have an effective, reliable and team members. May it be a small church organization; a school sports team, community groups, or big company or corporation, all of it can benefit from team building and achieve their general goals.

Importance of  Spending Time on Team Building

Here are some of the reasons why team building plays an important part of a company’s effort to build solid working relationships.  Team building:

  • Improves working relationships.
  • Encourages employees to give their best in their corporate tasks.
  • Increase productivity among the company’s employees.
  • Helps a company achieve its goals as a team.
  • Develops cooperation and teamwork between employees and company teams.
  • Create a supportive and enhancing working environment that motivates people to achieve certain goals and objective.
  • Enhances each participant’s communication, decision making skills and self-confidence.

Does Team Building ACTUALLY Do the Above?  No!

Many people, including team building ‘companies’, believe that if you provide some kind of team building activity, the above will occur.  The key is in the application of lessons learned and how what you have learned will actually create some kind of change back at work.  Without this piece, call ‘team building’ what it is – bonding, having fun or something.

There are many companies that show people a good time but nothing ever changes.  This includes a host of philanthropic team building companies who are combining philanthropy and team building.  Without the learning component, this is simply (and awesomely) a great feel-good, warm and fuzzy event.   Maybe that is what you want!  If so, DO NOT call it team building.

Slightly A-Typical Team Building Activities

Here are a couple of activities we have chosen and are based upon trust building.  These both work well because they take what we already know well and change it, which mirrors what we want them to to – take a look at work (which they know well) and make some changes.

Blindfold driving

This is a great trust team building activity where in the driver is blindfolded and is given instructions by his team mates that (sitting behind him) on how to drive through the obstacle course.  Closed road, parking lot – we use this in our Off-Road Immersion experiences with great effect.  This experience works because it brings out authenticity.  Trust is visceral and communication must be absolutely clear.

Trust Walk, with Mouse and Rat Traps

A simple variation on a long-standing activity (you can purchase this from us).   The paired activity is straight-forward with one person coaching another through an obstacle course.  In our version, the course is filled with live mouse and rat traps and each person must take their shoes off!  There are two rounds as the pairs switch and the challenge changes – the new coach is frozen and may not move.  Uh oh, Houston, there is REAL fear here!  The traps are actually set in a specific way so they cannot go off and everything is 100% safe.  But it creates authenticity and meaning because it takes one of the most abused (and made fun of) team building activities and makes it VERY real.

Meaningful Team Building

In order to create meaningful team building, something must change as a result. Some behavior, some policy, some structure, something.  The best way to make sure this happens is to connect the hearts and minds of the people involved!

Many believe that emotions have no place in the workplace.  This is simply not true.  In fact, we are perfectly fine with anger in the workplace.  When someone is angry and yelling, we believe they are passionate and/or committed.  But if someone is laughing and smiling, we believe they are not working.  They are screwing around.

Most ‘team building’ involved laughing and smiling!  No wonder people find it a waste of time because they believe, deep down, that kind of emotion does not belong in the workplace.

Both anger and laughter are good.  It is the result of the heart becoming engaged.  In order to create a behavioral change (most team building is created for a behavioral change), you need to activate the heart, connect it to the mind and make sure they are in alignment!  Then, create alignment among everyone as you close out the session.

We have found the very best way to connect heart and mind is through philanthropic experiences in which the experience is directly connected to:

  1. What they do as a company – building bicycles for a company that provides diabetes healthcare or painting hallways of a school and including inspirational and motivational words and quotes as a paint company with the children sent out to see everything.
  2. A direct application  – what was learned and how it can be taken back in small ways to make a difference in the organization.

These philanthropic experiences are so powerful that we stopped doing anything else.  Nothing compares to connecting the heart and mind to an outcome.  Simply put, it changes everything and, in the end, change is what we are seeking.

Regardless of what kind of team building experience you are searching for, make sure you end up with something meaningful.  Or call it something else!

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James Carter is the Founder and CEO of Be Legendary, a socially inspired team and leadership development company. James has created emotional learning experiences for thousands of participants through executive retreats and large meetings. James’ passion lies in helping each person feel valuable as an individual and as part of the whole.

Contact James Carter HERE.



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