Team Building Activities for Work

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Instructor: Jeff Calareso

Jeff teaches high school English, math and other subjects. He has a master's degree in writing and literature.

Great team building activities boost productivity, improve communication and strengthen morale. In this lesson, learn about effective team building activities and how to choose the right one for your team.

Choosing a Team Building Activity

One day, Erin comes home from work excited to tell her husband about a team building activity she did at work. 'We went bowling,' she tells her husband, 'and I won!' Her husband asks her what the goal of the activity was. 'Um, I guess we found out I'm the best bowler on my team.'

Employees should walk away from a team building activity with a clear understanding of its goals. Perhaps you want a team to learn to trust each other more and communicate better. Or maybe you want to develop problem-solving skills. Whatever the needs of your team may be, the goal should dictate the activity.

Erin had fun at her bowling event, but its goals were unclear. Worse, it focused on individual competition, not collaboration. The following activities are team-focused and address different goals. Choose an activity that best fits the needs of your team.

Spaghetti and Marshmallow Towers

Our first activity is called spaghetti and marshmallow towers. The goal of this activity is to encourage collaboration, iterative working, and innovation. Divide the team into groups of 3-5. Give each team 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, a yard of masking tape, a yard of string and a marshmallow. Instruct each team to build the tallest freestanding tower they can in a set time. They can only use the provided materials and the marshmallow must sit on top of the tower. At the end of the activity, the team with the tallest tower wins.

Teams will discover through testing and failing that spaghetti sticks are very fragile. They must work together and attempt different types of structures until they find something that works. This activity helps teams that tend to assume they know all the answers before they start a project.

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