How to Choose the Best Corporate Team Building Event

Doug Staneart  |  April 11, 2011
last updated

How to Pick the Best Team Building Activity

Team Building Events (and specifically how to choose the best, most appropriate, team building event) for your group or situation can be extremely difficult because of… Well… Team Building Event Companies! If you Google “Team Building Events,” you will get results from every type of activity from classroom team training to charity team building events, to outdoor scavenger hunts, to ropes courses.

You will also get results that are great ideas to have a shared experience with your group. However, many of these activities will not help you build any teamwork.

So how do you choose the best corporate team building activity?

There are three different, main, genres of team building activities or team events. I have listed them below along with the situations that each will be most appropriate.

  1. Small-Group Shared Experience Team Activities
  2. Classroom Team Building
  3. Big Group Shared Experience Team Building Events

Small Group Shared-Experience Team Activities

The best team-building activity for groups of under 30 people and who already have a team atmosphere is a simple shared-experience.

Small group, shared-experience activities include any type of gathering whose primary purpose is to just let the group have fun with each other. As long as you have a small group and a pretty good atmosphere within the group, these types of activities are fun and very inexpensive. You are only limited by your creativity here, so you can do the old standbys like go bowling or play golf (or miniature golf). There are also neat places like Dave and Busters where your team can have dinner and play pool or arcade games.

More extensive outing might include taking the day off and going to a theme park. You might also consider treating your team to dinner and a show.

Pretty much, any type of fun activity will work here. There are lots of “non-team building” organizations that specialize in these types of events.

(When I say “non-team building,” I really just mean that these organizations primarily do some other service as their main revenue stream, and team building is just a side revenue stream for them.)

Organizations that specialize in these types of activities include big resort hotels, cooking schools, race tracks (racing schools), theme parks, bowling alleys, and the like.

Once your group size increases to more than 20 people or so, or if you have a specific challenge within your group that you want to improve like communication challenges, a new team leader, groups that have merged together, or other team issues, these type of team activities can actually be counterproductive. So be careful unless you have a small group and a pretty strong team atmosphere already.

Classroom Team Building

Classroom training is the best corporate team building activity for groups who have a specific challenge that needs to improve.

Many people think “classroom training” equals boring, because for most of our lives if we are in a classroom, we were bored to death. However, good team building companies and team building facilitators are enthusiastic and fun. Teams who have professional team building facilitators come in and lead these classroom events can really improve team culture in a very short period of time.

Since participants learn faster when they are having fun, a group can really get fantastic results and feel like the activities were time well spent. This type of event is best for groups where a specific team result is trying to be reached such as if an organization merges with another company, and the leaders are trying to create a new team culture. Another situation might be where leadership has changed and the new leaders want to start fresh.

If you are having quarterly meetings or annual meetings at your office or if you have breakout sessions at your annual convention, then these types of events work really well in those types of time slots. You can also have these facilitators come out and do keynote speeches that are fun and funny if you have an open slot at your convention or meeting.

Unlike the shared-experience team building events, very few companies specialize in classroom team building, so they are harder to find. Be careful, because if the company specializes in big events and not seminars or workshops, you can end up with a bunch of rah-rah activities that don’t get you the best results.

Big Group Shared-Experience Team Building Events

For big groups, a charity team event is the best corporate team building event.

This type of event is very similar to the small group team events above, however, they are much, much, much more challenging to pull off.

For instance, if you have eight people in your group, you can go to a bowling alley and rent two lanes or have two foursomes at a golf course, and everyone will be active the entire time. However, if you have 100 people or 1000 people, if you try the same activities, at any given time, a ton of people will be standing around watching (doing nothing and getting bored) unless the facilitators really know what they are doing.

So if you have a big group and you want your team to have fun and stay active, this is where you really want to invest in a professional team building company. (Especially if your reputation is on the line.)

*** DO NOT leave this decision to your event planner. Event planners are very good at getting great deals on hotel rooms, organizing complex events, making sure the food works for the group. However many of them will do whatever it takes to please the customer (you). So if you ask them for a specific team-building activity, they will give it to you, even if the event or activity is not the best result for your group. You will get a MUCH better result if you contact the professional team building company yourself because these professionals will help you pick the absolute most appropriate event for your team.

If you are making a mistake, the team building facilitators will tell you. However, if you have an event planner as a go-between, and you are making a mistake, the team building facilitator will tell the event planner.  The event planner, because he/she wants to please you, will likely just find another company who will do what you want.

Typically, you will end up with a group from category number one above. So be very careful when you have a lot on the line with a really big group.

Two Questions to Answer Before Choosing a Team Building Activity or Team Building Company

The key to picking the best event for your group is to ask two main questions.

  1. Are you looking for a specific behavior change? If so, hire a team building company that specializes in classroom team training or hire a good team-oriented keynote speaker.
  2. Do you have a big group or a small group? If the group is small and you just want the group to have fun, some money and take everyone bowling. If you have a large group and you just want them to have fun, hire a company that specializes in big charity team building events or fun corporate team building activities.

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author Doug Staneart
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Doug Staneart is president of The Leader's Institute ®. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Region. He is a specialist in corporate team building activities and custom presentation skills seminars.
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