Team building activities are three words guaranteed to generate dread and suspicion among the average workforce. The truth is TV shows like The Office have done no favors whatsoever to the real life middle managers of the world who want to leverage the very real benefits that team-building can bring.
Most of these benefits have been enumerated countless times elsewhere. Improved communication, more motivated staff, better trust and collaboration and so on. Another benefit that is not so commonly discussed, however, is that the right activities will provide managers with valuable insights about their staff. Who are the natural leaders and, just as importantly, the natural followers. Who are the risk takers, and what are their instincts like? Who are the sticklers for detail?
The following activities will help answer some of those questions. They should also prove to be a welcome change from the clichéd activities that get such a bad rap, so with a little luck, they will be greeted with enthusiasm.
A poker night
Anyone can play poker. A famous poker writer once said the game takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Whether you play online poker for real money or you sit around the table playing for matchsticks is immaterial as far as the lessons go, but obviously, for an office team building event, participants should be provided with betting chips and the company can provide prizes for the top performers.
Each stage of a Texas Holdem game provides insights. Pro players fold three hands out of four preflop. It’s highly unlikely that anyone will fold that much, but there will be a significant gap between the risk averse who fold more often and the gung-ho. Similar insights are there for the taking at every step of the game.
A suitcase mystery
There are dozens of team building games and kits you can buy from online suppliers. One of the most popular to be developed in recent years is a suitcase mystery.
As the name suggests, it contains a suitcase full of clues and some very basic instructions. The team has 60 minutes to unlock the mystery. Suitcase mysteries are very popular in Japan as they help managers to get a clear picture of every team member’s strengths and weaknesses.
Leaders You Admire
Here’s an activity you can throw in on a Friday afternoon. Call a break and split everyone into groups of four, or five at tops. Each group member must choose a leader they admire, living or dead, and explain why they chose this person. The group then votes on which of these leaders will be the group’s representative.
Next task will be for a self-appointed group captain to champion the group’s nominated leader to the other groups. Explain why this person was selected and what skills made them stand out. As well as showing who is more or less eager to step forward, you’ll learn a lot about the qualities in a manager that really matter to your people.