At GO Scavenger Hunts, we've been heads down, ready to make some big decisions about 2020. And we decided to make a very big leap, after 4+ years of doing strictly scavenger hunts, and offer some new team building services.
These new activities build on our expertise of creating amazing experiences that foster connection, creativity and courage for teams. We'd love to design an amazing team-building experience for your group this year!
More collaboration, less competition, this powerful group mindset change / group art project brings out the best in your team members. Learn more.
An incredibly fun, competitive & challenging event that uses your own corporate culture to build positive teamwork and communication skills — just like pub trivia! Learn more
Think "Flat Stanley" crossed with "Elf on A Shelf"! This is an opportunity for your team to work together to take their new mascot to fun places and help demonstrate exactly how your team makes new people feel welcome (often in some silly ways). Learn more
We are SO excited to start offering these new team building services to your group, and collaborating with you to make them custom and meaningful. Reach out and let us know if you're interested in giving one of these new adventures a try.
UPDATED October 2019
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!
We've done a lot of hunts in a lot of cities — and each one offers a unique charm. Here are our absolutely favorite challenges from some of the amazing cities where we've been privileged to host a hunt.
1. Grand Rapids, Michigan
Our hometown! Grand Rapids is famous for craft beer and down-to-earth people, but our favorite challenge involves heading to the famous Motu Viget sculpture located just off Calder Plaza downtown.
Challenge: "Head to the famous Motu Viget tire swing (from GR's city motto 'strength through activity') and snap a "groupie" on the tire swing.
2. Portland, Oregon
Nike's corporate headquarters is in nearby Beaverton, so Portland makes a great spot to host a downtown team building scavenger hunt. Portland's hunt photos reflect both the city's innate weirdness, and a charming willingness to interact with strangers.
Favorite scavenger hunt challenge (custom challenge we created just for Nike): "Recreate the famous Michael Jordan 'Jumpman' logo with a photo of one of your team mates."
3. Boston, Massachusetts
Home to the Freedom Trail and some of the most competitive sports fan in the world, it's safe to say we felt right at home in Beantown. We've done several hunts in the "Cradle of Liberty," and every single one of them have been so much fun, mostly because the people of Boston seem to be up for anything.
Favorite challenge: "Head to the Sam Adams statue & snap a photo of a team member recreating Adams' famous pose in the foreground."
4. Dallas, Texas
Dallas holds a special place in our hearts, since our app developer Eventzee is headquartered there. The Big D is known for its incredible public art, as well as great food and great people. The fact that the weather is pretty awesome (at least in the winter!) is another great reason why Dallas makes our top scavenger hunt location list every year.
Favorite challenge: "Everything's Bigger in Texas: Photo of your shortest team member standing back to back with the tallest stranger you find. "
5. Washington D.C. (well, technically Arlington, VA)
Ah, our nation's capital! Washington D.C. and its suburb Arlington, Virginia, is rich in history, as well as eclectic shopping and diverse cultures. We had a ton of fun creating scavenger hunt challenges for accounting firm Grant Thornton that reflected both the local gathering place AND the company's culture of professional and personal balance.
Favorite challenge: "Vision is everything! Find the best view of the Potomac and take a team selfie."
6. Charlotte, North Carolina
At its heart, Charlotte is a city of sports. NASCAR was born here, and Charlotte's NBA team, the Hornets, is one of the most celebrated teams in the south. Our scavenger hunt teams had a great time exploring the city while learning more about their teammates in the process.
Favorite challenge: "Go to Romare Bearden Park & snap a photo of your team 'dancing' on the Dance Chimes located there. "
7. Atlanta, Georgia
HOT-lanta! (At least that's what people always shout whenever we mention the city's name.) Atlanta is famous for its diversity, boutique neighborhoods and southern hospitality, which make it a great place to host a scavenger hunt. Working with accounting firm Smith Howard, we had a blast with one of our favorite challenges where we asked teams to engage with public art.
Favorite challenge: "Snap a photo of your team with a piece of public artwork that reflects your team's spirit."
8. Mall of America, Minnesota
Supercomputer manufacturer Cray, Inc. likes to gives reward its interns for all their hard work with a scavenger hunt inside the Mall of America near Minneapolis. There's plenty for the teams to explore in the massive complex, whether it's baseball history, a variety of theme restaurants (that make excellent photo ops) or just finding tourists who agree to be in a stranger's scavenger hunt photo.
Favorite challenge: "Mall of America is locally known as 'MOA' — spell it out with your bodies."
9. Chicago, IL
The Windy City! Chicago is one of our favorite places to host scavenger hunts for groups because 1) It's close to everywhere; 2) Midwestern hospitality in a big city makes for great scavenger hunt challenges; 3) There's just so much to do here! We were particularly thrilled to work with experience design company Freeman XP a few years ago, helping them out with their company holiday party in downtown Chicago.
Favorite challenge: Artistic expression increases innovation (and of course creativity). FInd a local mural & show us your best strongman/woman pose!
10. Holland, Michigan
"If it ain't Dutch, it ain't much!" Wooden shoes and tulips abound in Holland, Michigan, nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan. It's also the headquarters for automotive manufacturer Gentex, a company that, for a bunch of engineers, has some pretty creative people. It's also home to Hope College (one of the Top 100 Liberal Arts Colleges in the U.S.) and the Flying Dutchmen.
Favorite challenge: Taking measured risks is one of the best ways to further your career. Snap a photo of your team members leaping into the air.
11. Chandler, Arizona
A few years ago we had the very unique opportunity to run a scavenger hunt in a casino! A pharmaceutical company's sales reps were on-site for a series of meetings, and were looking for a unique way to blow off some steam afterwards — and of course we were happy to oblige.
Favorite challenge: Benchmarking is all about keeping an eye on what other "teams" are doing. High-five another team if you see them while you're out hunting (just to keep an eye on them)!
12. Royal Oak, Michigan
We do a lot of bachelorette parties in Royal Oak, and for good reason: this Detroit suburb is home to some of the coolest bars and restaurants in the state. It's walkable, the people are friendly, and there's plenty of shops and restaurants who are happy to help out a bridal party when celebrating their bride.
Favorite challenge: "Have the bartender invent a drink just for the bride. Take a team photo with it!"
13. Tampa, Florida
Usually Tampa as known as a tourist destination, but it also happens to be the record-holder when it comes to the most lightning strikes in any major U.S. city. So of course we had to make a photo scavenger hunt challenge out of that fun fact!
Favorite challenge: Tampa is famous for getting hit by lightning more than any other city in the U.S. Photo of your team's best "shocked" faces.
14. Detroit, Michigan
There's simply no other city like Detroit, a community that's come back from the brink of ruin to become a vibrant, thriving city full of great companies, great food and great culture. We love you Detroit — keep on fighting the good fight!
Favorite challenge: Detroit is known for its strength! Show us your best bodybuilder poses.
15. Miami, Florida
Miami is known for its nightlife and great Cuban food, but it's also a hotspot of innovation and tech. We were thrilled to do a hunt there this past April, and were happy to see that even though Miami weather tends to be warm, at least one resident dared to grow out his beard in defiance of the heat.
Favorite challenge: "Peter the Great in Russia once taxed beards. Snap a 'groupie' with at least 2 team members & someone with a beard (not on your team)."
16. Orlando, Florida
What's with all the Florida scavenger hunts? It must be the great weather and Floridians' adventurous spirit! One of our favorite hunts in Atlanta we held on the campus of University of Central Florida ("Orlando's Hometown University") — there our teams found plenty of cool challenges around UCF's incredible campus.
Favorite challenge: "Legend has it that stepping on the Pegasus in the UCF student Union is bad luck. Snap a photo of your team not stepping on it!"
17. Denver, Colorado
The Mile High City boasts a million different things to do, plus the weather is usually sunny, which makes it pretty much the perfect place to hold a team building photo scavenger hunt. This group held their hunt near the 16th Street Mall, where there was plenty of people, art and culture to interact with.
Favorite challenge: "We're no herd of cattle! Photo of your team with a 'blue cow.'"
18. San Francisco, California
The Bay Area offers no shortage of cool photo opportunities, which is why we were so geeked to see this group of interns make the most of their scavenger hunt. Truth be told, there are a million great photos we have from the Bay Area, and had a hard time picking our favorite, but we love the combination of strong young women, blue skies and art in this particular photo.
Favorite challenge: "We all bring our own superpowers to work. What's yours? Snap a photo of everyone in their best "superhero" pose.
18. Lake Placid, New York
Not long ago we had the great pleasure of running a hunt in Lake Placid, New York, home of the 1980 Winter Olympics. Although smaller than some of the other cities on this list, Lake Placid hosted just under 100 NYSTRS employees for an amazing scavenger hunt in this beautiful ski town.
Favorite challenge: "Things move pretty fast at the NY Teachers Retirement System. Snap a photo of at least 3 team members on a 'wild bobsled ride.'"
20. Cincinnati, Ohio
From Steven Spielberg's hometown to having its own kind of chili, CIncinnati is our kind of city. With friendly Midwestern values yet plenty of culture to go around, it was the perfect place for White Castle's frozen food division to come together for some awesome team building.
Favorite challenge: WC's Vision is "To Feed the Souls of Craver Generations Everywhere." What feeds your soul? Photo of a team member doing something that feeds their soul(s).
21. Lubbock, Texas
Go Red Riders! Lubbock is home to Texas Tech, where a gutsy group of interns spent the afternoon exploring the campus and brushing up on their creative photo-taking skills. This hunt was so much fun to design, and even more fun to watch.
Favorite challenge: According to legend, Soapsuds’ rear was placed facing towards Texas A&M. Snap a photo of your team with the famous statue, with your rears facing the same direction as Soapsuds’.
22. Traverse City, Michigan
Cherries, film festivals and great views of the water — Traverse City is sort of the Riviera of northern Michigan. This "Up North" paradise has a lot of things going for it, not the least of which is a thriving downtown and a citizenry that's committed to supporting the arts — kind of perfect for a scavenger hunt!
Favorite challenge: "Innovation often means taking risks. Snap a photo of at least one team member doing something outside their comfort zone."
That's it! The our favorite cities, along with the best scavenger hunt for each city. Is there a city on the list we should totally check out? Book a hunt with us and we'll add you to the list!
Tasked with organizing the ultimate bachelorette party in the Motor City? When it comes to planning the perfect last fling before the ring, Detroit has some great activates to celebrate the bride. Whether your bride is creative, athletic or a social butterfly, these great Motor City activities could suit any bride’s style.
1. Scavenger hunt
We may be biased, but if you’re looking for an activity that appeals to all ages and types — something that connects your bride’s best childhood friend, her college roommate, her new sister-in-law and her crazy Aunt Rose — have you thought about a scavenger hunt?
At Go Scavenger Hunts we create bachelorette hunts that focus on fun challenges about the bride as well as learning about one another. We can design a custom hunt specific to your bride and her friends and family (and the location you pick in Detroit), which includes all your photos from the event. So regardless if you’re downtown at the casinos or hanging out at the beach at Stony Creek — or you’re anywhere else where there’s people walking around — you can hunt! Prices start at $45/person.
2. Pole dancing
A bachelorette party is a great time to release the inner sexy woman and pole dancing is great for the athletic and the inactive. Vixen Fitness in Ann Arbor provides a safe and fun environment for women of all ages, shapes and sizes to embrace their sensual side and get a little workout. Groups can pick from a one hour pole dancing or lapdancing lesson. And Vixen Fitness allows you to bring your own bottle of champagne to toast the bride. Cheers!
If a few hours isn’t long enough and your need a weekend to celebrate, then check out the deals at the casinos in downtown Detroit. No need to incur the airfare to Vegas when you can find three great casinos in your backyard: Greektown Casino, MGM Grand and the Motor City Casino. You can all play a round of Blackjack or try your luck at the slot machines, and enjoy a night of dining and entertainment. And you don’t want to Uber home, plan an overnight stay and take part in a day of indulgence at the highly recommended IMMERSE Spa inside MGM Grand Detroit.
Speaking of spas, if pampering is your focus, then a day at the spa may be exactly what the maid of honor should plan for her bride. Who can resist being pampered with a hot stone massage and relaxing manicure and pedicure? You don’t need to travel far to find a great spa in Detroit but a few of our favorite ones are Beach House Day Spa in Birmingham, Visions Spa Salon in Novi, Woodhouse Spa in Detroit.
For brides looking to spend the day with close friends but not partake in all the usual bachelorette party antics the Detroit Institute of Arts is a great choice.
This venue within Detroit is a gem for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that it houses one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. For residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, admission is free. And once the bride and her party are finished taking in the beauty of the exhibits, head to the Kresge Court inside the museum to lounge with friends to enjoy a glass of wine and a some charcuterie.
Let’s not forget a great adventure for our outdoor enthusiast. Stony Creek Metropark is a man-made lake built by damming Stony Creek, located in Washington Township. Whether you plan to mountain bike, hike or inline skate there are plenty of trails for each. The park also has two beaches, a boat launch as well as rowboats, paddleboards, canoes and kayaks to rent.
And don’t worry if you are planning a bachelorette party in the winter, Stony Creek is open for cross country skiing and guests can rent skis on site.
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary then why not book a bachelorette party at the Detroit Flyhouse Circus School. Classes are geared to all levels of fitness and instructors are highly trained in teaching the circus arts in a safe environment. Whether you try a mixed aerials or hoop dance class, you’ll definitely get a great workout and strengthen your core while having fun.
Ready to book your Detroit Bachelorette Party scavenger hunt?
Peter Drucker famously said, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
And if you work for an organization that's laid the groundwork for a healthy culture (it doesn't have to be perfect — but it does have to be present), then you've got the makings for a team building event that is fun, engaging and the results last long past the event itself.
Here are five elements that need to be present in effective team building — an event that is fun for employees, and creates a strong ROI for senior management.
1. Somewhere, somehow, leadership has to be present.
No amount of team building can make up for poor leadership. If you want employees to take your team building efforts seriously, management needs to be highly involved. We're not saying that your CEO has to go on every team building event for every department, but if you manage a team, you should be out there getting your hands dirty with everyone else.
Prove to your team that you are clearly committed to building trust and moving strategically towards a shared goal.
2. Organization is key.
It's confusing not knowing where you're going, when you need to be there, or how you'll get there — and team building can be a microcosm of what's happening to your organization, shrunk down into an afternoon of disfunction.
So at the very least, make sure that your team building event is organized — which means planning ahead and following a checklist — so that on some level, your department can feel more organized when it gets back to the office.
3. Everyone needs to understand the goal.
Even in something as supposedly fun as a team building event, you need to have a goal. And goals require organization.
You set goals regularly within your organization, so it makes sense that this needs to happen in miniature during great team building events. Watching a baseball game or going to dinner can be relaxing and fun, but it's really hard to have those small interactions that lead to big gains in trust when you can only really hear the person next to you.
Set goals for your team building event just like you do for your department — even if one of the goals is simply to have fun and relax — and you'll find everyone is more engaged.
4. Consistent, clear communication makes all the difference.
Whether your team is climbing a rock wall, cooking an Italian meal or solving creative challenges via a scavenger hunt (ahem) together, you've got to be able to have clear communication. And this doesn't just happen magically; the practice you do during team building will translate directly into better communication back at the office.
5. The team that problem solves together, stays together.
Few things are more satisfying than successfully tackling a problem using teamwork. And satisfying and fun are often inextricably linked during team building! Creative problem solving is one of the top skills companies and managers are looking for in their employees; practicing this at work — but outside the work environment — can bridge two or more team members who have had trouble connecting before.
But there's one more thing that needs to happen in order to have a truly great team building event.
6. End on a high note.
You've invested all this time, energy and money into providing your employees with a really great experience — so now you need to make sure it sticks. Research shows that experiences are worth more than things, so do the work to cement employees' good feelings and takeaways that they experienced during their team building event so that they can build on those relationships once they get back to the office.
Fun team building events almost sounds like an oxymoron — but if you start from where you are, and if your team is committed to the same goal, you can find success.
We all want to be better leaders.
We also want better relationships with our teams.
But how do we do both, effectively, at the same time?
Go ahead and put on your cape…
…because I'm about to make you the team superhero.
Because team building offers a variety of ways to enhance your team dynamics AND your leadership skills at the same time.
Here are seven ways to do it right now.
1. Increase motivation
As leaders, we need to not only motivate our team — but also we need to feel motivated ourselves.
The best way to drive motivation? Have crystal clear goals and/or mission.
With team building (effective team building, I should say), the goals are always very clear: Finish this task, together, often before anyone else.
When your team successfully faces a challenge, you can give them (and yourself) the opportunity to know what it feels like to overcome that challenge.
Knowing they are part of a successful team that trusts each other builds on that motivation even further. As the leader who facilitates this feeling, you've given everyone involved a chance to feel appreciated for their contributions.
Now THAT'S empowering for everyone.
2. Use team building to destroy employee apathy.
When employees feel disengaged at work, two things can happen:
They either start looking for another job...
...or they stick around and suck time and money from the organization.
And when apathetic people stick around, they suck the energy from the other employees around them.
But when you invest in helping employees feel appreciated and engaged, everything changes.
The average company on Fortune's "Best Companies To Work For" list has an AMAZING financial return of over 200% over the average company.
These are companies that invest in things like team building. It's one of the best ways to show employees:
1) That you appreciate them
2) That engagement has real benefits for them.
And that's what real leaders do: show their team the path to success and give them the tools they need to get there.
The bottom line?
If you want more engaged employees (and thus a more profitable company), you NEED to invest in team building activities.
3. Get better at communication.
Effective teams have the most effective communication — and the most effective leaders are the best communicators.
In a recent study of 195 leadership executives in over 30 global organizations, communication was a key element of 6 of the top 10 leadership competencies. Yet 86 percent of executives and employees say that a “lack of collaboration” or “ineffective communication” had caused projects to fail.
So how do you get better at communication? Start with team building.
There is simply no better opportunity to sharpen your communication skills than when you have a focused mission, everyone together out of your standard workplace environment, and you're all working together to "win."
Team building allows you to practice good communication when the stakes are low.
(And we all know what generations of piano teachers say about practice.)
4. Increase your problem-solving skills.
Today's customers don't care whether your team feels fully realized and appreciated at work.
They just care that you solve their problems.
Leaders often play the role of chief problem-solver. Which is great — except you want your team to be the ones to recognize and solve customer problems.
The best team building events give your team practice at four key competencies:
The result? Teams learn quickly that working together is the fastest way to success.
And let's face it:
These learned problem-solving skills (and the trust that comes with them) — when practiced consistently — transfer directly back to those sticky situations they find themselves in back at the office.
5. Build on your team's strengths.
A while back we published a post on How to Pick the Right Team Building Activity Based On Your Team's Weaknesses.
With that post, we focused on team weaknesses as a way to discover the most effective team building.
But honestly, knowing your team's strengths and then building on them is an incredibly effective way to build leadership skills for both you and your individual employees. After all, it takes a good mix of diverse backgrounds and strengths to make an effective team: Extroverts and introverts, creatives and analysts, fresh perspectives and established expertise.
Because team building is an excellent opportunity for every employee to better understand both themselves AND each other.
As a leader, this self-knowledge can be the difference between success and failure. By engaging in different kinds of problems, you give your team the chance to think strategically or experiment with the best ways to accomplish goals.
The clearest, fastest way to discover your own and others' strengths is under pressure — and the best way to create safe pressure is through fun, engaging, just-challenging-enough team building.
Want help? Contact us today for seriously fun scavenger hunts that enhance leadership AND team dynamics.
Now it's your turn.
You've read about the five ways team building and leadership go hand in hand. Now it's time to implement them.
The first step?
Decide which technique (or two) is going to be the most important for your team, then focus on it during your next team building event.
Will it be improving communication? Increasing motivation? Helping your team learn better problem solving skills?
Whatever you decide, make sure your next team building event is clear on what leadership qualities are most important for you and your team — and then go out and do them.
(And if you need help with this, we're more than happy to give you a quote.)
5 Things I Learned as a Student-Intern & Why I No Longer Feel Ill-Prepared for the Professional Workplace
By Tim O'Dea
This guest post was written by our intern, Tim O'Dea. You can learn more about him on his LinkedIn profile.
Juggling a full-time undergraduate curriculum, a part-time job and an internship at one point seemed like (and often felt like) an impossible task. Having so much on your plate can make you wonder if you’re capable of handling a professional career. Here's what I've learned over the past five years of trying to make it all work:
1. No problem ever got solved by keeping quiet.
Ensuring you are in a positive work environment is essential. It’s important to be as communicative as possible with the people you work with. I’ve found that you often have to be the one to start the discussion. The more comfortable you are with your team, the more likely you are to develop new, collaborative ideas. Get talking!
2. You need to keep yourself updated.
A habit I’m glad I’ve gotten into this year is first checking my phone in the morning for news updates. I recommend keeping up with the news, even if it means checking your CNN app or Twitter discoveries while drinking your morning coffee. I believe the more up to date you are with current trends and talking points, the more informed you’ll be with your work. Being familiar with current events is not only a gateway to conversation starters, but...
3. You must keep a positive attitude.
We’re kidding ourselves if we think we wake up every day thinking, "I cannot wait to go to work today"! While we should believe every day is going to be a good day, the slightest inconvenience can alter our attitudes quickly—at least definitely for me. This is why when things seem too hectic and I feel like I have no power or control over a situation, I take three deep breaths and remind myself that no good can come from getting angry. The best work comes out of people who don’t let negative energy affect their mentality.
4. You can’t be afraid of change.
You know the saying, but for now we’ll say stuff happens. When you’re comfortable enough in a role, it doesn’t seem feasible to imagine yourself at another job. However, changes happen, and opportunities come up. When you’ve learned as much as you can from a job, there comes a time when you ask, how much more can I offer?
You should never be afraid of taking on a new challenge. I like to think of work experiences as a big suitcase: you go through your career picking up all the tools and insights you need to succeed, so that when you’re ready to head somewhere different, you pack up and go. And if you’ve already built strong relationships in your work environment, they’ll be sad to see you go, but more than happy to help you pack.
5. You can’t do it alone.
It may be cliché, but it's true: teamwork makes the dream work. Before entering my last semester of college, I considered myself to be an independent worker. After working in four collaborative capstone projects, I can tell you nothing is more untrue about me. I found that I thrive with group work. It can be stressful (like any job) but knowing you have a constant support system and colleagues that you can depend on is what makes a team great.
Work teams aren’t necessarily permanent (what job is?) but if you build strong enough of a dependence on each other, even when the work is complete and it’s time to start another chapter, you can always consider these people on your team.
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.
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.