A goal without a plan is just a wish. If you want your team to be stronger and work more cohesively, there are a couple of ways you can accomplish this, but there’s one strategy that never seems to fail: team building.
Employees are often suspicious of team building; they tend to evoke feelings of embarrassment as opposed to enthusiasm. But if you can convince everyone to put their best foot forward, you have the opportunity to improve your team’s trust, communication and collaboration skills.
Here are five reasons why planning a team building event this spring is your best bet at getting your group rejuvenated.
1. There’s something about feeling fresh and new in the spring.
Most of us don’t necessarily experience paradise between the months of October and March – that’s why when we see the slightest glimpse of warmth and sunlight, we can’t help but feel a little happier than we did the week before. This improved mood might make us want to start something fresh. We might even ask ourselves, How can I be better for my team? The answer? Take hold of the initiative! Schedule an event and get your team out of their usual workplace ruts.
2. You get to play with purpose.
Whether you’re playing a pickup game of basketball with a buddy or a game of Words With Friends with a colleague, ultimately it’s not that important who wins or loses. The best part about team building exercises is that there are no winner or losers.– The entire team is equally involved with each other and it’s all about the process itself. There’s an element of both motivation and relief when you realize you are participating in these exercises simply to enhance your connection and professionalism.
3. When it’s casual, it’s easier.
Business suits aside, team building activities often require that we “come as we are” — there are no requirements for dressing up, either literally or figuratively. As employees we show up with our real selves, ready to try something new or learn more about each other. There’s no prep, no studying up, no practicing. You just show up and have fun. There’s something very liberating about that!
4. It’s going to be a long, hot summer…
When we were kids, summers felt like they lasted forever, but for those of us with grown-up responsibilities, we know that summer is fleeting. We no longer get to lie by the pool all day, since most professionals work inside , wishing they could enjoy the season. The fact of the matter is life is short. Even if your team works well together, consistently supporting each other’s ideas and objectives, a spring or summer team building session will go a long way towards getting you through a summer of sitting in the office all day.
5. You get on everyone’s calendar early.
One of the biggest challenges to planning your team building early is finding a time when everyone can get together. Between meetings, travel and personal vacations, it’s hard to find a time when you all get get together, distraction free, and spend some quality time together outside the office. Planning early helps you lock in schedules, and often times better pricing when it comes to team building.
So what are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to start planning your spring or summer team building out. We’re happy to help — a great place to start is with our interest form. Or if you'd rather just go ahead and book without going through our customer service, you can book your hunt right now.
This guest post was written by Tim O'Dea.
This guest post was written by Tim O'Dea.
Super Bowl Sunday is arguably the best icebreaker for friends, family, neighbors and yes -- your team at work. The teams you’re watching on the field have more in common with your team at work than you think.
When I think football, I think groups of people in mass amounts coming together to not only cheer on their favorite (or preferred) team, but celebrating the idea that when a team works as one unit, they can conclusively be called the best.
Now just because you are adamant on Tom Brady winning his sixth Super Bowl, or overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the Rams’ return to the event after 19 years, does not mean there has to be any hostility or aggressive arguments over the bean dip and sub platter (even though this might seem inevitable). The game is always more fun to watch when you are surrounded with good energy by both the opposing fans and the home fans.
If there’s one thing we can agree on, there is a serious lack of togetherness in our country at the moment. This division is evident not only at work but from events that incite social gatherings to even the grocery store. Sure, the political climate and national social issues certainly factor into how well we get along with those we see on a daily basis. But professionals could learn a thing or two from the Patriots and Rams.
A team can only win when they are constantly communicating their best ideas.
Obviously these teams’ goals differ — but the Super Bowl reinforces what every employee needs to hear: Teamwork matters, especially when everyone’s eyes are on you. The team whose members strategize and execute their plans the best are ultimately the ones who win.
Employees are almost guaranteed to be watching the Super Bowl, even if they just have it on in the background. An office pool is a great way to have everyone at work involved and even a work party at someone’s home would definitely get people out of their comfort zone (check your local laws to make sure you're in compliance!). The details of the game are also great conversation starters when you get back to work the next day too.
No matter where you watch the game, how you celebrate Super Bowl Sunday or what the outcome is, pay attention to the winning team and ask yourself: What can I do to make my team just as great?
Nobody’s perfect, and the workplace is no exception. People screw up, miscommunication abounds and yes, we all get overwhelmingly busy. Whether you want to help bond team members together, fix dysfunctional interactions or just celebrate your successes, here are a few way you can identify your team's weaknesses (not to mention your own), then find an activity that helps turn those shortcomings into strengths.
Squabbling or infighting
Option 1: Ropes course
If your team suffers from an inability to get things done because someone's ego is always getting in the way, a ropes course may be the perfect way to get people to actually talk to each other and let go of petty grievances. Up in the air, doing something physical and getting out of your usual environment (i.e. the office) can all work together to build trust among colleagues.
Option 2: Charity Bike Build
Nothing brings people together like helping out those who are less fortunate. Work with a local Boys and Girls Club or other youth organization to build bikes to gift to kids who need them. It's hard to know who benefits more — your team or the kids who get the bikes.
Overwhelmed & overworked
Option 1: Team hike or paddle
Assuming your team is at least a little bit adventurous, consider booking a day trip where you explore the outdoors. Fresh air and nature are proven to help people be able to relax and unwind. Plan a team picnic either in the middle or afterwards because a shared meal is another great way to bring people together and reward them for a job well done.
Option 2: Cooking class
To continue with the theme of shared meals, cooking classes are a low-stress way to give everyone a chance to have fun and enjoy a gourmet meal at the same time. Whether you're making a chocolate dessert or learning how to make pasta, it's hard to feel stressed when there's delicious food involved.
New employees or interns
Option 1: Scavenger hunt
Personally, this is our favorite :) . What better way is there to enhance your team or get to know your new employees than by engaging in an adventure? When a team solves problems together, the members are better able to get creative together. Scavenger hunts (like GO Scavenger Hunts) can take place in any setting and do not necessarily require finding anything – you just need to put your heads together and have a good time.
Option 2: House build
Doing something helpful for the environment or for your local community gives you not only an incredible sense of accomplishment and pride, but it influences the people you work with to give back too. Habitat for Humanity or Family Promise are great options to help new employees feel like they're becoming part of an existing team, or for interns to get to know each other — all while doing something beneficial for the community.
Option 1: Escape Rooms
A series of puzzles and riddles that get harder with each sequential task might be the perfect option for teams that can't communicate well. Everyone brings their A-game and helps solve clues that they couldn't do alone. In The Surprising Benefits of Puzzle Solving for Adults, USA Today wrote that solving puzzles helps reinforce existing connections between our brain cells and increases the generation of new relationships. Escape rooms are extremely safe (they just twist your brain) and there are hundreds of places that offer this activity. What better way to get smarter than with the people you work with?
Option 2: Improv workshop
Imagine how funny it would be if you got your team to participate with Wayne Brady on Whose Line Is It Anyway? Improv workshops encourage teams to be just as quirky and witty as if you were on TV. Improv workshops build leadership and communication skills you can carry with you into the office. Since improv performers are unaware of what will happen until they're on stage and given the material to work with, it can be the perfect option to help teams learn to problem solve in the moment. Presentation skills are also improved because you make up the story as you go along.
Regardless what you do — make it fun & inclusive
Whether you’ve been working with someone for a decade or an hour, every employee should feel safe, comfortable and motivated. Motivation obviously does not come from fear or intimidation, so expressing kindness and support will bode well for you and your fellow employees in the long run. A strong team starts with a friendly attitude.
Written by Tim O'Dea, GO Scavenger Hunt's Winter 2019 intern.
No doubt you’ve been a part of a bad team building event.
Often it’s forced, awkward, disorganized and feels pointless. But it doesn’t have to be that way — science to the rescue!
Using research as a guide, it is possible to design your team building event so that it’s not only effective —it builds trust and gets people engaged — but is actually FUN. Here are five ways you can use research to make your team building more effective.
1) At work, friendship is a good thing.
We‘ve all heard,”You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” So although team members from small teams — i.e. senior management or accounts payable (often a department within a department) — seem to like and know each other, there are others who are likely being left out. What about the new hire? Or the employee who’s been there forever but is keeping his or her head down until retirement?
Nothing gets accomplished without open communication, which is why socializing at work is so important. Recent research shows that setting aside time to get to know your fellow employees bodes well not only for your company’s well-being — but yours as well.
When employees feel like they are friendly with their co-workers, it helps them move their ideas forward faster and with less mistakes. Give employees a chance to become friends, and to know what it looks like to work together in an team building environment, so then they can go back to the office and recreate those same results.
2) Recognize leadership when you see it (even if it's the intern taking the first step off the high ropes course)
Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes: transformational, relational, strategic, even autocratic. Many organizations are looking to groom the next generation of leadership in their organization, and it’s often during team building events that we get the first glimpse of leadership in an employee we otherwise would never have guessed possible.
In the Harvard Business Review’s Research: To Be a Good Leader, Start By Being a Good Follower, authors Kim Peters and Alex Haslam argue that employees first need to understand how to be a team player before they are able to move into leadership:
“In other words, leadership is a process that emerges from a relationship between leaders and followers who are bound together by their understanding that they are members of the same social group. People will be more effective leaders when their behaviors indicate that they are one of us, because they share our values, concerns and experiences, and are doing it for us, by looking to advance the interests of the group rather than own personal interests.”
So find that employee that seems to understand how the group dynamics work. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching an employee who started off as timid and unsure of themselves grow into a confident leader. Everyone needs to start somewhere, so why not during an offsite cooking class or charity project?
3) Organization & consistency is key
“One and done” team building is not enough. If you have no idea what you’re trying to get out of your team building, how can you expect your team members to know? Think about what issues your team is struggling with right now: feeling overwhelmed, a lack of trust, poor communication can all seriously affect team performance. Then plan your team building events to support those goals, asking for help from HR or a consultant if you need to (hey, we’re all busy).
Research shows the team building is an ongoing process. We know that consistency is key to everything from marketing messaging to losing weight. Make sure you have your team building planned out for at least the next six months, everything from small coffee dates with just one or two people, to large holiday parties. Each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce organizational values and show appreciation for your most important asset: your team.
4) Ask people to get out of their comfort zones.
This is why people hate team building: managers asking people to do something they hate and that they’re not ready to do.
Taking risks is a good thing, but you have to set people up for success. Give them room to make mistakes without criticism or humiliation, let them know that the team building event is a safe space and no one will force them to do something that makes them uncomfortable. However, you do expect them to try, and to engage and be a part of the team. Taking risks, even small ones, makes us more courageous, allows us to identify opportunities we hadn’t seen before and enhances creativity.
5) Follow up team building with a conversation.
After the event is over — and we mean RIGHT after it’s over — have a conversation about what went well, and what didn’t. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out facilitation where you give everyone the third degree, but you do need to collect some data on whether what you did was effective or not.
Ask how people felt about the event itself, then separate out the interactions that happened during the event. Did people seem to have fun, with smiling and re-telling of tales? Or did lots of people mysteriously “disappear,” only to be found hiding at the bar? Research shows that in order to create a culture of a “feedback culture,” you need to take small steps and implement it thoughtfully.
Need help with your team building? Our scavenger hunts are built on data and research that helps make your team stronger, more creative and more resilient.
Our intern Tim O'Dea talks about why he sees the city of Grand Rapids as all being on the same team.
While driving eastward on Fulton Street after work one day this past week, a couple thoughts went through my head as I quietly observed the glistening lights and fast-moving pedestrians.
I’m no stranger to the hustle and bustle of a big city like Grand Rapids – I’m a Detroit native. One thing that always strikes me about Grand Rapids is, like Detroit, it has a way of giving you everything you could possibly need within the matter of 500 feet. For every office building, there seems to be a new restaurant. For every furniture store and thrift shop, there seems to be another brewery.
Grand Rapids is more than furniture and beer, though. Don’t get me wrong – this is one of the most fun places to be, whether you’re starting out as an adolescent beginning a professional career or a longtime resident who has seen and experienced all the changes made to Grand Rapids over the years. This is a city that has prided itself on its progressive way of thinking, eagerness to promote and display art in all its forms, and above all, its community. You can feel how strong the culture is the minute you get here.
I have never been unimpressed with the genuine kindness of Grand Rapids’ strangers, whether it’s the lady at the ticket booth at 20 Monroe Live, the security guard at the Van Andel or the bartender at New Holland Brewery's Knickerbocker. Sometimes I feel like everyone in Grand Rapids almost works as a team, using teamwork and teambuilding to ensure everyone has the best time possible.
This is a city that reflects urbanity in the simplest of forms, in places we’d least expect it. It’s impossible to walk down Ionia Ave. and not have a sense of familiarity. I think that for everyone, Grand Rapids is just an exaggeration of the downtown area they grew up with, no matter where they’re from. My roommate summarized Grand Rapids in the perfect way the other day: "It’s big enough to never be bored and just small enough to be able to go everywhere."
My name is Tim O’Dea and I couldn’t be more excited to be working for an organization that strives to help build other teams and above all, gives them the opportunity to have fun. And best of all, I get to do it in Michigan's biggest small town.
Planning an office holiday party that everyone is excited about can be REALLY HARD.
Or is it?
Actually, it turns out that there is one activity that is easy to plan, cheap to implement and involves everyone from the CEO to the intern in a way that feels inclusive but not forced: an office holiday scavenger hunt. You can plan one in less than an hour, and it will cost you NOTHING, except for the cost of running the copier (unless you want to hire us — which is what our clients would recommend!).
In this post, I'm going to give you 12 ideas that will help you throw an office holiday party scavenger hunt that people will be talking about for months. You can even use the examples I give you as inspiration for other scavenger hunt questions!
1. Recreate the company logo using holiday candy.
Grab a bunch of red and green M&Ms, red hots, candy canes, marshmallows, Red Vines, peppermints or whatever else you find in the candy aisle. Then have each team recreate the company logo using their candy. Award bonus points for the best logo!
Or if this is really last minute, and you don't have any holiday candy, have the teams use supplies from the breakroom. Bet you didn't know that coffee creamers and swizzle sticks could be artistic media!
2. "Pay it forward" to get in the holiday spirit
If you're just playing in the office (as opposed to heading outside — which frankly, is more fun), you can have teams think of ways to do something nice for their co-workers. Maybe it's cleaning out the break room fridge (it could happen!), or just leaving a colleague a simple a note thanking them for the work they do. A little appreciation goes a long way in creating a happy corporate culture.
3. Snap a photo of your best Grinch face.
Have teams snap a photo of their best Grinch face and text it to you. You can require that everyone in the photo be wearing their Grinch face, or just have the team vote on who does the best impression of the guy who's heart is three sizes too small, and send that photo. Collect all the photos at the end for a holiday cheer slideshow! So great, right?
But wait — it gets better!
4. Build a snowman.
If you happen to be in a location where there's snow, encourage everyone to get outside and build their best snowperson. You can either give the teams the hat, eyes, scarf, etc. they need — or even more fun — have the teams use found objects (things they have in their cubical or lying around the office) to personalize their snowmen/people.
If you don't happen to have real snow, teams can create one out of shredded office paper, candy/food or draw one using dry erase markers on either whiteboards or even the office windows. Award extra points for creativity!
5. Have each team member share a unique holiday tradition.
We all come from different backgrounds and families, so ask each team to have its members to go around and share something unique about how they celebrate the holidays. The team can then vote on the best tradition, and snap a photo of everyone pointing to that person. After the hunt is over, you can have everyone share their favorite traditions over snacks and whatever libations you happen to be serving.
6. Sing Jingle Bells using found objects as accompanying instruments & shoot a video.
Almost everyone knows Jingle Bells, and it's pretty easy to play using improvised drums and maracas. And the videos could be pretty hilarious too.
7. Sing Christmas carols to a stranger and have them rate you.
Even if you're just hunting around your office you can find a stranger (or maybe even the receptionist) to serenade. Have teams sing at least one verse, then snap a photo of the "judge" (with team members also in the photo) holding up fingers to rate you on a scale of 1-10. Another one for the slideshow!
8. Create your own "naughty & nice" list.
You could set this up a bunch of different ways: either have teams made up of each department, identifying the things that went well (and not so well) this year for that department specifically. Or if you're mixing the teams up, you could just have everyone self-identify which list they're on, and have them line up separately showing which team they're on (i.e. thumbs up vs. thumbs down, "nice" sitting under the conference room table and "naughty" on top of the table, etc.).
Still not convinced? Here's a crafty one for all you artistic types:
9. Make a garland to decorate the office.
This is another challenge that can be customized depending on how much time you have to plan: either have some pre-popped (non-buttered) popcorn with some needles and dental floss, or some red & green construction paper to make ring garlands with a stapler, or just have people string paper clips together. Give bonus points to the team with the longest garland!
10. Awkward family photo
One of our favorites! We're always impressed by the photos that our teams come up with for this challenge. Since lots of family photos will be taken over the holiday, have teams think up awkward family photo ideas and snap a photo. (You may have to promise that none of them will appear in the company newsletter ahead of time!)
11. Pretend ________ is a Christmas tree.
Maybe you choose an office chair, or a co-worker or maybe you have an actual Christmas tree somewhere in the office. Although this one takes a little pre-planning, bringing in some tinsel, ornaments and lights is a really fun way to get some cool holiday photos for this challenge.
12. Recreate the nativity scene.
This final challenge may or may not be appropriate for all offices, but for those who can make it work, the photos from this challenge could be a lot of fun. Alternatively, you could ask people to recreate a scene from a classic holiday movie.
What will they use? Scarves as head coverings? Shredded paper for the hay in the manager? A coat rack for a shepherd's crook? Oh my goodness, PLEASE send us these photos if you take them!
Holiday parties don't have to be lame!
With a scavenger hunt, you can get everyone involved, have a fun afternoon of moving and being creative and it doesn't have to break your party-planning budget. What other office holiday scavenger hunt challenges can you think of? Let us know in the comments!
Support ArtPrize’s educational programs while completing a variety of challenges via your smartphone
GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- This year, experience ArtPrize a whole new way with a scavenger hunt that lasts for the full 19 days of ArtPrize 10. Friends and family can creatively compete against each other to learn about art and connect with the artists, art and the community — and help raise money for ArtPrize’s educational programs.
The Scavenger Hunt at ArtPrize is not your summer camp's scavenger hunt. Less scavenger hunt and more Amazing Race, most of the challenges involve finding entries and artists that fit within a certain category, then taking a picture of the team with the art or artists. Teams use their smartphone to track points and complete various challenges using the hunt’s app. Judges will add bonus points for creativity, and a curated feed of the photos will be available to the public.
“At its core, the spirit and energy of ArtPrize comes from countless instances of independent participation, from not only the artists and venues who organize the show, but also from community partners organizing events and happenings every day of the event,” said Jori Bennett, ArtPrize Executive Director. “The ArtPrize family scavenger hunt is exactly the type of catalytic activity we’re excited to see at ArtPrize—challenging visitors and encouraging participants to discover, or rediscover, our city.”
Tickets to participate cost $12.50 for adults 13+, $7.50 for kids 7-12, and free for ages 6 and under, and a portion of the proceeds will go back to support ArtPrize. All participants can sign up at family-scavenger-hunt-ap10.eventbrite.com. Families and friends can form teams of 4-6 people, and play the entire time that ArtPrize is live, from opening day until the closing ceremonies — new challenges will be added every few days.
“Ten years after ArtPrize first came to GR, we’re excited to offer a new way for locals and visitors alike to get out and celebrate everything that ArtPrize brings to the city,” said Jill Hinton Wolfe, GO Scavenger Hunts co-founder. “The challenges are a mix of fun, creative, serious and silly, and we love that a portion of the ticket sales will help support school groups who want to visit ArtPrize.”
There is also an option specifically designed for work teams looking to do some team building during ArtPrize — visit goscavengerhunts.com/artprize2018 for more details.
About Go Scavenger Hunts
GO Scavenger Hunts works with innovative organizations who are tired of boring, ineffective team building events. We are a new way to think about creative team building — we provide seriously fun, memorable events that are unlike anything your team has experienced before.
ArtPrize is an international art competition and festival open to all and determined equally by public vote and expert jury. ArtPrize encourages critical discourse, celebrates artists, transforms urban space and promotes cultural understanding.
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By Jill Hinton Wolfe
There was a recent Quora thread asking, "What are useful social skills that can be picked up quickly?" I recommend heading over to the thread itself, because there are a lot of gems, but two things stood out to me as both critically important and easily implemented: Looking people in the eye and using their name in conversation.
Why are these two actions so powerful? Let's start with the science.
Authenticity Is In The Eye Of The Beholder
In 2015 the New York Times ran one of its most popular articles ever, "To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This." The article really is worth your time to read (whether you've found the love of your life or not), but the basic premise is this: the author had a romantic interest in someone she knew, and he agreed to sit down with her and ask a set of 36 questions — each one more intense than the next. They then stared into each other's eyes for 4 minutes. Spoiler alert: They fell in love.
(It's unclear whether they are still in love. I'm guessing from the book she released in June 2017, they are, and will continue to be.)
The science of eye-gazing starts as infants
At just two days old, babies prefer faces that return their gaze. Just four months in, we humans process gazing faces more deeply, and at seven months old babies’ brains process direct eye contact that's just 50 milliseconds (too fast to consciously be aware of it) differently from an averted gaze. Three and four year olds often believe they're invisible if they cover their eyes, or even just look away. Kids who have autism — which is often defined as having difficulty understanding emotions — often have great difficulty holding eye contact.
Great for babies and children — but what about grownups?
As adults, making direct eye contact immediately causes us to become more self-conscious (anyone who's been on a blind date can attest to that). Apparently, direct eye contact also takes up a more brain power than typical cognitive tasks. Which may explain why the people who are best at eye contact know when to take breaks to keep the situation from being too intense — we need that extra brainpower to think!
Now here's where we get into the good stuff:
The research also says that people who consistently avoid eye contact are seen as more insincere and less conscientious (especially if you're a woman — which sucks, but also isn't surprising given what we know about culture). Alternatively, we’re more likely to believe what people say when they maintain eye contact.
And there's the rub: Being believable, which is closely related to competence, is how we authentically connect to each other. I go to networking events and regularly reach out to new people for a variety of reasons, but ultimately it's because I want to be seen as believable. And eye contact does that.
I was recently listening to this Tim Ferriss interview with Uber Chief Brand Ambassador Bozoma Saint John. It's an incredible interview on a number of levels, but one topic that stood out is Arianna Huffington's uncanny ability to make you feel special, like you're the only one in the room. Ferriss and Saint John both attribute it to her eye contact — which directly conveys her presence.
And isn't presence — being present — what we're all striving for much of the time? Don't we want to give people the attention they deserve? Everyone wants to be seen, to be understood, to be heard. It's pretty much one of the greatest gifts you can give someone you just met.
Eye contact: it's one of those things that's actually BOTH as easy and as effective as people claim it is.
But what's another trick to making eye contact even MORE powerful? Keep reading.
The Power of Name Calling
Beyonce said it best.
Using someone's name when you greet them, and then sprinkling it (again, appropriately) throughout the conversation is a quick and easy way to demonstrate that you care about them, are interested in who they are and value their input. Saying their name has the double benefit of also helping you not forget their name.
But are you like me, and often have trouble remembering people's names?
My husband is actually a cognitive psychologist who does a lot of work in the memory field, so I asked him (nothing like having an expert sitting next to you on the couch when writing a blog post). I'll spare you the long explanation, but basically we have limited capacity to store stuff, which is why mnemonics can be so helpful. Someone once suggested to me that I should imagine a person's name written on their forehead — minimally effective.
But you know what really helps?
You guessed it: Saying their name. An even MORE effective memory trick is to say their name while introducing them to someone else. Now you're a networking ninja.
Now you have two very powerful tools in your networking toolbox — or your toolbox that you just use to make people feel valued and liked. So the next time you want to make a connection with someone, don't forget to stare them down and call them names (you know what I mean).
Throughout my seven years of rowing experience, I’ve learned one truly valuable skill: teamwork. Whether that be in the boat or on land, I have found profound value in working together with my teammates. These skills are now invaluable to me, as I can apply them not only to my sport, but to school, work and everyday life.
LESSON 1: Get in Synch:
In rowing, one of the keys to success in the boat is being able to synchronize as a crew. Being capable of taking every stroke correctly and together is a vital part of any successful boat. Following one another and working as a unit is a great lesson for everyone, especially in the workplace. Being able to collaborate with others and work as a group is important in any business setting.
LESSON 2: Build Bonds:
Another form of teamwork that rowing has taught me is how to create close bonds with my fellow rowers, and how important those bonds can be when it comes to success. The better cohesion our boat has, the more we’re capable of success. Is raw strength important? Is determination important? Of course. However, without a connection with your teammates, there can be unwanted conflict that will only hold you back. The same is true in the workplace. While working on a project or a committee with your co-workers, it’s important that you get along with your teammates.
LESSON 3: Keep Passion Alive:
Although rowing has been a passion of mine throughout my seven years involved in the sport, there have been times when I asked, “Why do I do this? What draws me back in?” Practices are long, the work is hard, and tensions can be high. What makes all of this hardship worth it is remembering the moments that drew me into the sport in the first place. This lesson has certainly transfered into my everyday life. Work, school and day to day tasks can become mundane or frustrating, but looking inside myself and finding the passion that originally lit my internal fire helps me to stay motivated in everything I do.
LESSON 4: Friendships Grow Through Shared Adversity:
Physically working out everyday and racing next to the same people I call my friends has showed me that mutual adversity can create friendships that are stronger than the average connection. By working together through hard times, I have learned to motivate and support my friends more than any other experience I’ve ever had. The same is true in the workplace. Completing a shared project can bring you and your co-workers together, not only by building memories but also by creating a shared sense of accomplishment that will last way beyond the completion of one’s project.
Synchronization creates success on and off the water. Overall, rowing really has taught me many skills that I apply everyday in my world outside of athletics. I encourage anyone to try rowing and learn exactly what I’m talking about, as I truly feel that everyone can benefit from spending at least a little time rowing in a boat and learning how to sync up with those around you.
-Elliot Rieth, Go Scavenger Hunts Intern
Proving the ROI on the time and money that you invest into team building can be tricky. Sure, you shared a nice hour or so with your colleagues — but is that really making your department more productive and effective? And how long will the effects of the team building really last?
Regardless of the team building activity you use, it turns out there are scientifically-proven ways to boost the effectiveness and lasting benefits. Apply these methods to your next team building event, and you'll see your ROI increase significantly.
(Of course, we'd love it if WE were your next team building activity — where we automatically build in all of these strategies.)
1. Talk about how failure can actually be a good thing — before the event.
"There's no such thing as failure, only feedback," is a common phrase in today's uber-connected, social media-saturated world. Although failure can feel like one of the worst things to happen to us, it's how we learn and build resilience. So it's worth reinforcing to your team that you understand failure is often part of the process, and you want them to practice at it during this team building activity.
Remind them that Babe Ruth set the record for most career home runs in the same week he set the record for the most career strikeouts. Ruth knew that his success was inextricably tied to his failure.
2. Offer positive incentives in the form of prizes.
Psychologists say this technique encourages an “approach motivational state” — in other words, it enhances motivation. When your team is in an approach mindset, they focus on reaching outcomes that are positive (i.e. the incentives) for gain. To encourage this state, offer prizes for the team that wins the most points, or wins the most votes for their final result — but you can also reward prizes for best effort, or most creative. Scientists know that this mindset works particularly well in creative settings, so this technique may work best in painting or cooking classes, as opposed to the high-ropes course.
3. Get outside.
For our hunting and gathering ancestors, survival was dependent on being close to water, food and our tribe. So plan team building events that take advantage of the great outdoors for maximum effectiveness. Several studies have found that nature has a rejuvenating effect on the brain — sitting indoors with emails and meetings all day takes its toll on your employees' ability to creatively solve problems, so make sure your next team building event has everyone outside, breathing the fresh air.
4. Remind your team of an important project or goal — then tell them to forget about it.
Our subconscious can solve some really tough, complex problems — when we allow it to do it’s best work. But that only happens when our brain completely stops working on those problems and instead gets involved in other, completely unrelated activities. Scientists have found that while conscious attention (thinking) is limited in capacity, our unconscious mind is much better at processing large amounts of information at the same time. Scientists have also found that unconscious thinking is also when we tend to do our most creative thinking. So having fun and completely disconnecting from work may be the best thing your team can do to effectively finish a project!
The next one is one of my favorites:
5. Encourage healthy competition.
Play is the most fun (and effective) when there’s something at stake, which often means competition. Cognitive researchers have found that when we’re competing, we’re better at collaborating and working as a team. Competition requires that your employees use focused communication to work together to overcome challenging tasks. The fact that they’re doing it together motivates them to work harder to clearly understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to best get along with other team members. Knowing that the other teams are also working to reach those the same goals forces teams to be better, more cohesive collaborators. So let the games begin...
6. Let's get physical!
Participating in physical activities can be intimidating for some employees, but the research is very clear: the best way to fire up the brain is to get the body moving. A 2005 study found that treadmill walking for just 30 minutes boosted creative performance — and that boost lasted for more than 2 hours. Exercise also improves memory and other cognitive functions. A 2004 study found that on those days when employees went to the gym at lunch, most of them reported more interaction with colleagues, better time management and that they were better able to meet deadlines. You don't need to run a marathon or climb a mountain together to reap the rewards of physical activity — walking around a city or museum together can do the trick just fine.
Which brings us to the next strategy:
7. Put away the smartphone.
According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of us check our phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when we don’t notice our phone ringing or vibrating. That takes its toll on our creativity! In fact, some researchers have started calling compulsive phone-checking "the new yawn" — because it’s that contagious. Powering down your phone helps decrease feelings of jealousy and loneliness, and also reduces FOMO (one of millennials' key anxieties). Although our scavenger hunts do require the use smartphones, we do it in a way that doesn’t increase the anxiety of constantly checking to see if you’re measuring up on social media.
8. Schedule smaller, more frequent team building activities over big, annual events.
To boost happiness longevity, science says we need to engage in smaller, more frequent moments of happiness over big but rare moments of happiness. For example, we know that smaller weekend getaways over the course of a year are more effective than one big two-week vacation. This may be the single best way to increase the effective longevity of your team building activities — making sure you don't lose your investment by not consistently scheduling them out over the year.
So now you've got the tools — here's what's next:
Now implement them!
Ready to implement these eight scientifically-backed strategies? We're happy to help. Whether you want to get outside, encourage some healthy competition or get your team's super-charged subconsciouses working, any of these techniques will improve the effectiveness of any team building activity, even trust falls (which we don't recommend)!
Whatever you choose, leave a quick comment below right now. We want to know what strategies you think will work best for your team!
Co-founder Jill Hinton Wolfe is a communicator, entrepreneur and Army veteran who is passionate about the outdoors and designing surprising and unique challenges for all sorts of clients, all over the world.