A Guide to the Different Types of Team Building

Team building is a diverse field with a wide variety of approaches that cater to an even wider variety of teams. They range from loud and outgoing activities that target younger audiences to more natural perception-based events staged for the more reserved or executive crowd.

After you have determined your budget, you’ll need to take stock of what your team needs to revive, repair, retain, or reward it. Only after assessing these two things will you be able to determine the type of team building that will do your key people the most good. If you find that your needs and your budget don’t align, you may have to adjust your budget or save for a while to be able to invest in what is needed.

Here are the big 3 types of team building, and a little bit about each one.

Office Session Team Building

This is the most well-known of the various kinds of team building options available. Countless comic strips make this the punch line of their office jokes, yet this is still a prevalent approach that many people rely on to pull their people together. It is by far the most economic option, but is also the least effective in terms of staff motivation and job satisfaction.

During an office team building session, contracted team builders come in to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and then provide various exercises meant to address them. The shortfall of this method is that these sessions tend to be viewed as cheesy, embarrassing, and overly transparent by a lot of people. If your team isn’t wholly composed of extroverts who don’t mind being the focus of the room during forced amateur improv performances, these sessions can even be daunting and perceived as more of a punishment than anything else. You really have to be aware of the personalities on your team when choosing this option.

The majority of people don’t want to play ‘two truths and a lie’ at work. Being quizzed on your personal life in order to level the playing field through mutual humiliation and dread is no way to build a team, and more times than not, that’s how people feel about it. There might have been a time and a place for them before, but now it seems they are outnumbered by more authentic options that build teams in a more natural way.

Survival, Risk, or Adrenaline Based Team Building

Another kind of team building that’s really making waves right now is organized group activities that are based on evoking survival instincts and adrenaline responses based on risky or downright frightening shared experiences. This is a great option if you’ve got a bunch of adventurers on your team. People that thrive on competition and tend towards stimulation rather than relaxation in their off-hours will eat this up. Sports and high-stakes sales teams are best suited to this level of stress-inducing fun.

Companies that cater to this kind of team building offer things like outdoor survival in the woods or desert, hunting, or camping in the secluded wild with limited resources for a week or over the weekend. Ziplining, base or skydiving, bungee jumping, and aerial obstacle courses are also shorter variations of the same kind of experience. If you’ve got a young team that thrives on new experiences, exhilaration, and challenges, this is a great option. Just make sure there’s a consensus before signing up for anything like this, or it will only defeat the purpose of what you’re trying to achieve.

Travel & Voluntourism Based Team Building

This option is likely a bit pricier than the other two types of team building experiences, but has the greatest opportunity for growth, revival, team member integration, company loyalty, good PR, and morale boosting. If you’re a company that is used to sending their executive, management, or sales teams off to weekend leadership development or corporate workshops, you might even find it to be less expensive than what you’re used to budgeting for.

The basic tenet that travel based team building revolves around is that sharing unique experiences with team members in a foreign setting forms strong bonds that might not otherwise develop, and inspires people to see and connect with the world around them in a new way. It provides common ground for team members to exist as equals, and encourages authentic awareness. It takes people outside of what they know, but in a comfortable enough way to make all the great stuff that comes from experiencing something like this worthwhile and easy to grow from. Climbing a volcano to roast marshmallows is both challenging and rewarding to achieve together. The view at the top inspires personal gratitude and awe of the world we’re a part of, and sharing this with teammates can really enhance the relationship they share.

A travel based team building experience that also incorporates voluntourism takes the travel experience one step further. In addition to sightseeing and climbing volcanoes together, it also gives the team something they can be proud of having accomplished together. Incorporating volunteer time into the tourism experience leaves the host community better and stronger than it was before thanks to the work of the contributing team. That can be a truly powerful feeling. It’s also something people want to hear about and take part it, and elevates not only your employee’s vision of the company, but your clients’ and community’s as well.

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