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Select Team-Building Activities at Work That Your Team Won't Hate

Executive Summary

There are a lot of team-building activities out there that waste time and resources without actually connecting your employees to one another. The success of an activity often comes down to having a clear objective.

  • It's important that your objective is attainable, relevant to the situations your team members are currently facing, and about to be reinforced for the foreseeable future.
  • This activity shouldn't strive to fix all broken gears in your business. Instead, it is one small step of many.
  • Should your activity be competitive? That all depends on past experience with your team, how they deal with defeat, and whether you as the manager can effectively dissolve conflict.

The best team-building activity can become the worst team-building experience when there is no clear objective. Why spend the time, effort, and money on an activity if you can’t identify the business reason or team benefit you expect as a result? If all you want is to have some fun and kill some time, play a parlor game and enjoy. But if you want to improve your team’s effectiveness, you need to select an activity that will give you your desired results!

Start with a clear objective in mind. What, specifically, do you want your team to learn or accomplish? Think about it.

The goal of team-building Activities should be: 

  • Attainable by your team.
  • Relevant and applicable to where the members are as a team right now.
  • Something that will be reinforced long after this activity.

Plan on this activity being one of many small steps your team will start taking now. Remember, an effective team is built primarily on trust. Trust, and thus team-building, can rarely be accomplished in one giant leap.

Match your goal to the activity in this book [Quick Team Building Activities for Busy Managers] that will best help you get the results you want. If there is more than one good match, do one activity now and another one at a later date.

A Note on Competition During Team-Building Activities at Work:

Competition can be a good thing. It can excite, energize, and challenge people to participate better. Do not assume that competition naturally brings out the best in everyone, though. It can also deflate, discourage, and create unnecessary lingering conflict. As the final judge in competitive activities, you risk becoming “the bad guy” as well. Only you can say how competitive you want your team-building activity to be. The most important thing is to be deliberate in your decision, so you can justify it with a clear objective if necessary.


  • The current level of competition within the team.
  • The emotional health of the participants in dealing with defeat.
  • How intimidating or intimidated the participants are.
  • Your ability to diffuse real conflict among the team members.

Excerpted with permission from Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers by Brian Cole Miller, copyright Brian Cole Miller.

Bring It Home

It can seem like a challenge to coordinate an activity that every member of your team will enjoy. What types of team-building activities have you tried in the past at work? What aspects of the activity went well, or not so well? How do you plan to change those activities based on the objective and level of competition on your team? Let's build stronger relationships inside of our businesses! Share your thoughts on our blog below. ~ HarperCollins Leadership Essentials

Brian Cole Miller author of the book  Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers

Brian Cole Miller

Brian Cole Miller is principal of a management training and consulting firm. He is the author of several books including Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers, More Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers, and Keeping Employees Accountable for Results.

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1 comment

  • I’m excited to try some of these in the New Year!

    Jaime Guthals

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