Ditch the Ropes Course: 5 Team-Building Activities Your Team Won’t Hate

“Oh, awesome! We’re heading to a ropes course!” said no one ever. Unfortunately, team-building activities have gotten a really bad rap over the years, largely because they are often perceived as “forced fun” that is anything but.

If you are planning to host an activity for your team this summer, why not shake it up and do something different? Here are some creative ideas for team-building events even the most jaded employee will enjoy.


Do Group Good

“Giving time to support a good cause isn’t just good for the soul; it’s also a great way for your team members to bond. Place-based volunteering ideas include things like volunteering at a local soup kitchen, helping build a Habitat for Humanity house, or delivering gifts to children’s hospitals. … Skill-based volunteering is a cool way to stretch your employees’ expertise: It’s when your team volunteers their time and uses their professional skills — anything from marketing to app development to writing — to help a nonprofit.” — Read more at Hubspot.com.

Try Something New (and Very Non Corporate)

“The most successful, memorable team-building events are ones that don’t feel like a day at the office. Activities that overtly aim to draw in leadership lessons or practical takeaways are less powerful. Spending time together, sharing an experience or working towards a common goal  allows bonding to happen more organically and far more effectively. One example that comes to mind: the night we took the team to an Eric Church country music concert because our own COO (also named Erik Church – no relation) had always wanted to go. There was no explicit lesson about leadership or communication … but the experience brought everyone closer together and in the end we learned that there’s no better way to understand someone than to walk a mile in his cowboy boots.” — Read more at Forbes.com.

Find Out More About Your Team to Improve Your Dynamic

“There are tons of well-known team compatibility programs available that can team your team members about themselves, each other, and how to work best as a group, like Strengths Finder, Emergenetics, and even the Myers-Briggs Personality Index. These are fantastic tools to promote open communication and respect for different personalities and work styles. This kind of exercise often involves very focused learning, so it’s helpful to find fun ways to share each person’s results, like having people predict results for their colleagues, or asking everyone to suggest a celebrity or famous character who best represents them.” — Read more at TheMuse.com.

Hacking Boring Team Building with a Hackathon

“My experience is that a hackathon is the perfect, modern way to strengthen team bonds. It is the ultimate improvisational experience. Teams must form and decide direction quickly, delegate, ‘yes, and’ the heck out of each other to move forward, make each other look good, coalesce around a single ‘best’ idea and execute with lightning-round precision in an insanely short amount of time to create something real and of value to solve real problems. There is no time for drama, for conflict, for egos to dominate. There is a short-term, clear goal everyone understands — limited in scope and clear in vision.” — Read more at LinkedIn.

Good Common Sense Should Go A Long Way In Planning

“It’s simple: don’t make participants do silly activities! Take into account the age range and physical abilities of your group and ensure the activities are suitable for them. Know the training objectives and use activities that will help you achieve those goals. Select activities that are fun but do not force the participants into awkward or overly uncomfortable situations. More importantly, ensure that the activities actually do lead to a learning objective. It’s okay to push participants outside of their comfort zone, but do it in a reasonable manner.” — Read more at Business.com.

Let’s hear about the best—or let’s face it, spill about the worst—team-building activity you’ve been part of. Share with all of us in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading expert on millennials and the multigenerational workplace, trusted by global companies, universities and the world’s top media outlets. A New York Times bestselling author and keynote speaker, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her presentations have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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