team building professional facilitatorPlanning a team building exercise can be a daunting task. There are too many activities to choose from, and most produce eye rolls rather than excitement from the team members. But when properly planned and executed, this is an activity that can encourage the desired change within your team.

Team building is a positive group activity that achieves a specific set of goals. Your goals for team building might include:

  • Improve employee relations
  • Help your team develop a new skill
  • Assimilate new team members
  • Prepare for organizational changes

As with everything worth doing, the first step is to understand your purpose. Once you have outlined your team building objectives, you need to look for activities that align with both your company and your selected goals. In your search for ideas, you’re more likely to come across examples of exercises that went comically bad than you are to find ones that went well. In fact, many popular movies have scenes built on team building faux pas! We thought you might enjoy a few:

  • In the movie The Longest Yard, prison guards challenge a group of prisoners to a game. Instead of a ‘friendly competition,’ the players lose focus on the game and solely look to hurt the guards for revenge.
  • In the movie Mean Girls, the high school students are encouraged to do a trust fall to get through their problems. When the main characters approach the stage, one character winds up falling, as the ‘sea of trust’ participants refuse to catch her.
  • In the recent movie, Office Christmas Party, the organization relies on their holiday party to solve the indignation of the whole organization and to close a much-needed business deal. The party quickly spirals out of control, resulting in the building being torn apart and many attendees in the hospital.

All of these examples are over-dramatized and unrealistic for comedic effect. The root of this comedy lies in truth for too many organizations that seek exciting, flashy team building activities that end up going sideways.


Why do team building efforts fail?

Failed attempts at team building often stem from a lack of education and a lack of experience. Jada A. Graves from US News & World Report does an excellent job analyzing team building best practices. Let’s look at how Graves’ best practices align with the above movie examples.

Physical Not Dangerous

Unlike The Longest Yard, team building should not encourage violence, cause harm or humiliate participants. This rule does not exclude all physical activity. An activity that gets your blood pumping and challenges groups to work together can encourage constructive and purposeful discussion when properly moderated.

Transparency Not Trust Falls

Unlike Mean Girls, the purpose of the team building activity should be communicated in advance to prepare your organization for the event. Team building alludes to the traditional yet ineffective trust falls, which can inspire just as much fear as confusion. Professional facilitators will help communicate the purpose of a team building activity before, during, and upon conclusion to help you meet your goals.

Fun Not Happy Hour

Unlike Office Christmas Party, purely social events like an office party or happy hour will not help you achieve the goals of your team building exercise. If you are struggling to include a fun element, a professional facilitator can bring their knowledge to recommend intentional and entertaining activities.

Participants need to understand the parallel between the team building activity and the organization. A professional facilitator will help communicate your purpose by consulting before your activity is planned, guiding the execution, and ensuring that you have accomplished your goals upon conclusion.

We can help you find what you need for your next team building activity by connecting you with a professional facilitator. Please contact us, chat us, or call us at 1-877-212-2361.