A Planner's Perspective to Team Building | Team Building Chicago

I asked my planner colleagues what their clients mean when they say “teambuilding”.  The results were very interesting.  

I was struck by how much a charitable element appeared in their comments.  I was also impressed (as I always am by my planner colleagues) by how cognizant they are that their client may have different meanings for “teambuilding”.  

Below is a collection of quotes:

Our teambuilding efforts focus on:

•    Creating an event with a built-in “ice breaker” making it easier for participants to meet and get to know each other

•    Facilitates networking on a more informal basis and builds relationships with a common experience as their foundation

•    Can be used as a group effort with one goal while contributing something back to the community (community service focused)

•    Depending upon the group demographics the event should test both knowledge and physical skill- this way everyone has something to contribute

Most importantly – no one should be put in a position to look foolish in front of the group instead the event should focus on leadership, team work, and combining all the talents and skills of each member of the group.” 

-Kim S.

"Mutual vulnerability has always been a great way to get folks on the same page.  Taking them out of the comfort zone, whether it be through role playing/improv activities, open sharing on difficult topics,  scavenger hunts or other exciting activities that push boundaries.  Anything that is innovative and creative will always be an easier sell than a standard "Teambuilding" package. Be creative!"

-Xander C.

Now a days, most companies are concerned with meeting their CSR requirements and so team building activities are usually CSR activities as well.  People want to make sure that they give back and try to serve the communities that they live and work in.  The Millennial generation is especially interested in “doing” and so we have seen an increased interest in CSR team building activities for all of these reasons."

-Rebecca C.

“Many years ago we helped a client build a park in a low income area. I have also worked on team building events where the group has put bikes together and distributed to low income areas or children who can't afford their own.

We have also seen team building exercises where the group has broken into teams and competed against each other by building boats and use them to participate in a race. Other times the groups get together to form an orchestra.

Team building in my experience as always been an activity that involved the entire group...and encourages people to work together to solve problems, give back to those less fortunate...raise awareness.  It is often used to break down the barriers for people working in silos and encourage the outreaching of colleagues to help for the great good...when we walk in someone else's shoes, we have a better understanding for what it takes to accomplish things. It teaches us empathy.”

-Kathryn R.

Here are some key thoughts regarding team building:

-escape room style
-timed challenge

-teams work independently but also interdependently…they are competing against each other, yet individual progress relies on progress of others as well.
-challenging enough for senior level execs
-30 minute debrief with ability to link back lessons learned and how those can be applied to work life

They want to have fun, but it needs to be something that has practical take away too. Seeing time space of total 90 minutes.”

-Alicia O.

When clients request “teambuilding”, you have to dissect this request to find out if they mean:

A.    A moderated activity to improve upon specific skills, typically communication and group teamwork.  My personal favorite is CSz Business Chicago!

B.    An activity to get them out of the ballroom.  Many times it is a chance to see the city where the meeting is taking place because they may not have another opportunity.  e.g. Scavenger hunt/road rally

C.    A contest to win an incentive.  Many times this can also be a test of “were you paying attention to what we just told you” – e.g. Team trivia, Customized Family Feud to review sales goals for the year.

D.    A community outreach.  Bike build, USO care packages, soup kitchen, etc.

E.    Meet and greet with a speaker/celebrity.  E.G. Taking a small team to Frontera Grill and Rick Bayless cooks for them.  This would be what I consider a second-tier teambuilding because an experience is what bonds you, not the activity itself.

Understanding WHAT they want the end result to be is the first step to tailoring the “teambuilding” experience.”

-Barb H.

I never really understood how deep you could go with Teambuilding and you DEFINTIELY can. It has so many meanings and so many of our clients view it in lots of different ways.

Teambuilding to a lot of our clients means coordinating an activity that creates team comradery and challenges them to think outside the box and also outside of their normal corporate office environment.  It could mean anything from bowling together, building houses or working on communication skills at a ComedySportz workshop. Ultimately it’s very important to find out from our clients what their main goal and objective is for us to be able to propose specific teambuilding opportunities. Sometimes they just want to get the team out and laughing with one another and other times they have been meeting on extremely serious and intense topics and want to find another way to express those corporate issues.”

-Shannon W.

Usually when my clients say team building they want their teams to interact in a way they don’t normally do and build relationships together outside of their normal work duties.  In the past we have done scavenger hunts, the amazing race and community service activities.”

-Carolyn P.

Where I see the difference in client ideas and requests for team building is driven by their group or organization.  For Sales, I see more competitive style, for other business I experience more networking collaborative type requests.  

Last team building activity was in Las Vegas.  They were broken into small groups and given Star War props, and they had to go to certain locations and take pictures. The most creative won.

Another team building activity was broken out to separate tables and given an existing good, and they needed to come up with how they could repackage, and then create a marketing/sales plan.”  

-Gail O.




by Greg Werstler