What Constitutes An Effective Team Building Activity?

October 31, 2014

There are huge business benefits that come with building a high performing team (s) to an organization, its customers or clients and the teams themselves plus their members. However, to achieve success, there need to be very tight focus on the kind of team building activity used. But, what really constitutes a good activity? How can a manager or team leader tell if a particular activity is effective enough?

Setting team building activities in any context needs to follow the SMART mnemonic criteria. They need to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Sensitive

The mnemonic device allows you to set reasonable activities, that are not too ambitious, vague, lofty or subjective to define if they have been accomplished or not.

A specific team building activity is one that’s relevant to the work the team is tasked with at the workplace. When listing the goals of the activity, it’s try to avoid Phrases such as “we will perform better as a team.” it sounds a little too vague and subjective. Instead, use specific descriptions like “we will demonstrate how good our teamwork has improved by pooling our efforts to comfortably and quickly navigate a ropes course.”

A measurable activity must clearly demonstrate the quantitative aspect of it. A quantified unit that shows the time, distance or any other measurable unit relevant to the activity must be given. So, the goal of the activity can be something like “we will demonstrate how good our teamwork has improved by pooling our efforts to comfortably and quickly navigate a ropes course in 5 minutes or less” or “… by comfortably and quickly navigating a 20m ropes course.”

A team building is time-sensitive when it clearly states the time-frame the work has to be completed. Assigning a specific time for the task brings in more pressure to achieve, otherwise the team will not be under any pressure to accomplish as long as they do so at some point along the way. This is unrealistic.

An achievable team-building activity doesn’t need to take 10 seconds to accomplish. Most activities are practically unachievable within such a short time-frame. Good activities normally take at least 10 minutes. Give the team enough time to think, share and analyze the task, questions or situations they are faced with. Likewise, the activities can only be realistic if all team members are able to use ropes course, meaning none of the members use wheelchairs.

In addition, an effective team building activity must clearly demonstrate that the team recognizes and values the contribution that all team members make to the task. Also, when team building, it is necessarily that the exercises or games are properly integrated with effectiveness. Degree of integration of goals is the extent to which a particular team member perceives his own goals as being satisfied by the achievement of the organizational goals. In other words, the goals of each team within the organization must be compatible with the organizational goals, otherwise if they conflict, performance will tend to be low. As a result, organizational accomplishment will be negligible.

In fact, failure to set relevant goals during a team building is the main reason most participants deem team building activities as failure. It’s because leaders often fail to adequately define the overall goals they and the team needs to achieve. This is where executive team building coaches come in. Consulting with business coach will surely help make this vital step a satisfying one for the entire team and organization.