Problem is, they’re seldom done right. And they become team-breaking exercises.
Just the mere mention of those three little words – team-building exercises – can make some people cringe and call out sick.
Can’t blame them. Too often the activities are humiliating or just downright stupid.
Don’t believe me?
Check out these examples of team-breaking, er, team-building exercises gone wrong:
1) Sharing Too Much
A company wanted to ease tensions among its employees. So, they had everyone sit down and go around the room and say what they didn’t like about each other.
Shockingly, this had the opposite effect.
While this may sound like a great way to inspire cooperation and problem solving, it’s not.
One Washington, D.C., company gave it a go, and ended up with most people pointing their guns at their supervisors and drenching them. The result: A lot of yelling, pleading and retaliation (and some big welts where the paintballs struck).
The bus ride home was very quiet.
3) Extreme Physical Acts
Not everyone likes physical activities.
So, forget rock climbing, obstacle courses, relay races, kayaking, etc., when it comes to team-building activities.
Reason: These exercises are supposed to be fun and engaging, but for people who aren’t physically fit or who just don’t like physical games, they’re just embarrassing and make them feel incompetent.
4) Communal Baths
No joke, this really is a thing.
Same-sex bathing supposedly builds trust and allows people to open up and talk about things they otherwise wouldn’t in the office.
Reason: Being naked makes people equal.
Really? I always thought being naked made people feel self-conscious and embarrassed.
5) Disgusting Acts
How does eating an insect or spitting soda into a co-worker’s mouth promote team building?
Yet, both activities have been cloaked as team-building exercises.
If I worked at a company that required this of me, I’d be fired.
6) Blindfold Activities
When you hear the words “blindfold” and “team building” you immediately think of leading a blindfolded co-worker around the office using verbal commands.
However, here’s a new twist on this concept that one company did – blindfolded Land Rover driving.
The person in the passenger seat navigated the blindfolded driver through an obstacle course. Sure, you might bond with the person who’s giving the directions, then again you may crash an expensive car and bond in the hospital.
7) Role-Playing Games
Plain and simple, almost no one likes role-playing.
It puts people on the spot and makes them uncomfortable. And many people are simply bad at it.
So don’t do it.
8) The Centipede Game
OK, maybe this game was fun when you were 10-years old and at summer camp.
But seriously, what adult wants to crawl around on the floor on their hands and knees holding the person’s feet in front of them trying to tag people who aren’t in the chain?
That’s not team building, that’s embarrassing!
9) The Shrinking Vessel Game
For people who have an issue with personal space, this game is a nightmare.
Even if you don’t, this game forces you to be uncomfortably close to your co-workers, and there’s really no need for this in 99.9% of jobs.
If you aren’t familiar with it, you make a space on the floor and have a small group of people stand in it. Then you gradually shrink the space, so the people inside must figure out how to keep everyone within the shrinking boundaries.
10) Dining Room Challenge
Where do people come up with these things? In this exercise, people had to guess what their co-worker standing beside them would order in a restaurant and then see who got it right. If anything, this just shows who’s the best guesser or talks about food a lot!
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These are just a sampling of team-building activities that you want to avoid at all costs. But we’d love for you to share the crazy exercises you’ve been put through in the guise of team building in the comments box below.
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