From icebreakers to ropes courses, most businesses have pulled out all the old tricks when it comes to team building activities, but to be quite honest, employees (and employers) are tired of them. It's time to come up with something new to bring the team together. But really, what's left? Are there meaningful ways to encourage team building that aren't boring or cliche?
It can be done, but it takes creativity to turn team building into an exciting, enjoyable activity rather than an obligation. If you're ready for something new, here are 3 alternative activities that can bond your team more closely.
1. Build Something
With origins in Tom Wujec's Ted Talk, the Spaghetti Tower is a silly but surprisingly effective approach to team building - and an inexpensive one at that. All a given group of four needs is 20 pieces of spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string, and a marshmallow, and then they have 18 minutes to build. Make it as tall as you can while still positioning the marshmallow at the top.
What makes this a worthwhile team building activity? The Spaghetti Tower task uses limited resources to encourage cooperation, innovative thinking, friendly competition, and humor; ultimately the results don't matter. When all is said and done, though, your team will have a hilarious story to tell about that time their supervisor made them play some weird spaghetti game, and that alone has unifying potential.
2. Learn To Cook
According to Keith Ferrazzi's book Never Eat Alone, a vital text on networking that every entrepreneur should read, meals are a powerful connector in professional settings. But what if instead of just eating, you learned to cook together?
Learning to cook something different, say by taking a French cooking class, or learning to roll sushi together, can be even more fun since it requires everyone to step out of their comfort zones. Of course, when you cook together, you also get to eat together - a real bonus in any team building activity. Everyone likes to eat!
3. Explore Communication
Anyone with kids has likely played the game Heads Up in the past few years. It's a game that involves giving clues to help someone identify the image or word posted on their head. Similar to older games like Taboo, Heads Up is a great way to explore how your team communicates, how people think when given limited information, and again offer the laughs that help bring a group of people together. Language games are great in this way because communication is at the heart of all teamwork.
Team building activities don't have to be boring, elaborate, or expensive. They don't have to involve escape rooms or rope courses or long weekend retreats. They can be simple and humorous. In fact, doing small team building activities on a regular basis can be much more meaningful than going off on a rare, over-involved trek that tires out your staff. Make team building something people can enjoy, make it a habit, and reap the benefits together.