In the business world, top team building activities for the workplace lie on a spectrum of gravitas (seriousness). They range from light hearted, easygoing activities to hard-core exercises that can expose an executive’s vulnerabilities.
On the least serious side of the spectrum, top team building activities for the workplace can involve off site recreation where coworkers can get energized and learn more about each other on a more personal, unprofessional level. These out-of-office activities can range from wine tasting to rock climbing to tours and so on where teammates can learn about what their coworkers like to do in their spare time as well as discuss big picture goals and what the team is doing as well. This side of the spectrum suits companies with the expendable budget to take their team off site to fun environments very well.
In the middle of the spectrum, take assessments as a team. Discuss the results with a facilitator who can talk the team through as to how well it handles different perspectives and how different styles impact the team’s ability to work together. These activities are typically less expensive and very workable in terms of team building perspective.
Assessments can help teammates understand how their coworkers operate and how they are different. This eye-opening strategy is crucial to team building. A team’s biggest downfall is the perspective that everyone thinks exactly the same. With this mentality, team players will approach others in the same way they do things. This kills team building every time.
As far as team building downwards, bosses can work with their employees at ground level for a day. For executives and bosses who have trouble connecting with the team they need to manage, this can be an eye-opening experience. For example, I once sent a COO to work with customer service for a day. The employees loved it and the COO finally understood the full reality of what his customer service team did every day. From this new perspective, he was able to put his finger on their daily goals and problems and, thereby, manage them better.
In the most serious side of the spectrum, of top team building activities for the workplace, upper level executives can perform 360 reviews. They can gather performance info from their peers, employees, and through direct reports. Then, the executives must share with the group what they learned as well as their development plan — how they will be working on improving.
Although 360 reviews were disparaged in the press 5 or 6 years ago, they are making a comeback. Executives work in a vacuum most of the time with nothing to compare themselves to. As a result, they do not realize what other executives are doing or if they are really accomplishing their job. Many executives make massive changes after engaging in 360 reviews.
360 reviews are a very vulnerable thing for most people and, therefore, should be done anonymously. Although some cultures are so open that peers and employees can give feedback freely, it is easier to start with anonymity as a default so that people can be open and say what they need to say.
To decide which of these team building activities for the workplace to use, take a look at the team and decide what level of team building it has accomplished so far. If the team cannot communicate at all, build commonality and get teammates talking with the least serious activities. If the team is not at ground zero but is dysfunctional in some way, start with the more serious side assessments or even 360 reviews to help teammates understand how they can work together best.