Better Team Building: Do’s and Don’ts from the Pros

Chelsea Pellegrino


Closing your eyes and falling into the outstretched arms of a coworker is one way to create a closer company culture. However, there are plenty of team building options that don’t risk your employees filing for worker’s comp. We reached out to some top professionals who specialize in corporate team building, and they’ve given us do’s and don’ts for your next company bonding session:


DON’T: Call happy hour a “team building.”
According to David Jacobson, founder of TrivWorks corporate entertainment company, team building is an activity with structure that reinforces positive team skills. After hours drinking can be a great way to bond, but you’ll need something more organized (and sober) to fine tune your skills as a company.

DO: Have clearly defined goals.
In order to plan an activity, you first need to know what you want to accomplish. Do you want to help your tech team master the world of app building? Do you want to help the company as a whole improve their relations with one another? Whatever it may be, having a specific objective will help you pick an appropriate team building event to support it.


DON'T: Choose a yawn-inducing activity.
This is supposed to be time that promotes positive feelings and productivity in the workplace, not dread  spending time with coworkers. Avoid boring, passive activities like seminars or lectures

DO: Plan something out of the ordinary .
Bring in a juggler to teach a class, plan a lunch break with music and bartenders, or even hire a professional company like Growth Engine to create a unique event specifically for your team. One of cofounder Bryan Mattimore's most effective exercises involves song writing, which he's facilitated for brands likeThomas', Unilever and Boehringer-Ingelheim. 


DON’T: Host the event outside of work hours.
“I used to work for a company that held its annual team-building event on Saturday - and attendance was mandatory,” shares Marilyn Santiesteban, the current Assistant Director of Career Services at Texas A&M University.  “All I could think about was how the heck I was going to get the laundry, cleaning and shopping done.”

DO: Aim for an activity that can be done during the standard 9-5.
To build your team, you have to respect that their time is valuable. While the activity is meant to be enjoyable, it’s still work, and your team will take it more seriously if done during work hours. This doesn’t mean it can’t take place outside the office - just be sure to factor in travel time.


DON’T: Choose an event that ends up excluding employees.
If team-building is exclusionary from the get-go, it's not going to be effective. "One year, HR organized an icebreaker for people to meet and mingle with others who had been born in the same state," continued Santiesteban. "Those of us who were foreign-born felt really left out."

DO: Pick an activity that emphasizes the "team" aspect!
If your goal is to improve relations among employees, games like bowling or scavenger hunts are a great way to promote friendly competition, while still relying on teamwork. Xavier J. Villarmarzo of Tier10 Marketing recommends selecting the groups at random. "This encourages people to not only work together, but to also get to know one another - especially someone who you wouldn't normally come across in daily office life."

But above all, the most important things to remember: don’t forget to have a little fun, and do use GigMasters for inspiration in planning your team building event!