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Five steps to meaningful teambuilding


What do you think of when you see or hear that word? In my experience, the idea of teambuilding generates mixed responses: some people dread it, some are elated, and others fall everywhere in-between these extremes. Why such varied responses? When I ask people about their experiences with teambuilding I find that while most have extremely positive experiences, some unfortunately do not. What makes the difference?

Here are five ways to make your next teambuilding event both memorable and meaningful:

Teambuilding goals

  1. Set goals. Be clear about what you are intending to achieve through teambuilding activities. Is this event just about getting to know each other and build camaraderie? Or do you want something more? Goals such as improved communication or decision-making can be effectively addressed with teambuilding activities using experiential learning methods.
  2. Sequence teambuilding activities appropriately for the group. A new team that is just beginning to work together will need a different sequence, and perhaps different activities altogether, than a cohesive team that has been working together for awhile.
  3. Challenge by choice. Growth and learning happen when we are outside of our comfort zones – up to a point! If participants are pushed too far out of their comfort zones they are likely to withdraw completely. Be clear that participants always have a choice in how they participate. Ensure that activities are designed to accommodate a wide range of comfort levels among participants.
  4. Don’t skip the debrief! Effective debriefing following an activity allows participants to make meaning from their experience. This is when they are most likely to make connections between the lessons learned during the activity and their real-world situations. Without this step, a teambuilding activity may be enjoyable and memorable, but lack meaning.Teambuilding reflection
  5. Incorporate individual reflection. Set aside time for quiet reflection and journaling. Add focus to reflection by posing a thoughtful question that encourages participants to think about their experiences at a deeper level.


In your own experience with teambuilding events, what has made them meaningful for you?

2 Responses

  1. John
    | Reply

    I like the fact that you need to include some objectives. A lot of people react negatively when they walk away from a “Team Building” experience that comes off as mere exercises or activities that they had to do. If there are clear objectives then progress can be tracked and participants walk away with a sense of accomplishment.

    The debrief and reflection time are the next “secret”, each equally important. The skill of the facilitator can make or break the activity. The questions posed during that time cause the reflection and solidify the learning. Without this, it’s just activity!

  2. Shari
    | Reply

    Brings to mind the progression of activities leading up to the ropes course at Pingree Park! Successful teambuilding can meld a bunch of strangers into a team in record time!

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