Choosing the Right Team Building Activity for Optimal Team Performance


Building a good team is harder than it looks. 

People’s personalities, approaches, backgrounds, and styles don’t always line up. 

In fact, they don’t usually line up. 

If your team struggles to collaborate (and most teams do), team-building activities can help. 

But what’s the best team-building approach for your team?

We’ve compiled some of the most popular team-building solutions here. 

Read through them, and we'll help you think about which one will work best for your team.

Need to strengthen relationships? Maybe start small, with an event or activity.

Need to improve team skills? You may be better off with some training.  

Whatever barrier you face, there’s a solution. Look through these and see if you can find a way to help your team get to the next level. 

Events: Throwing Axes, Anyone? 

To build relationships, consider hosting one of the classic team-building activities, where you put coworkers in a new, exciting situation together.

  • Go to an ax-throwing club
  • Attend a sporting event
  • Take a wine tasting tour
  • Volunteer at a local charity

Shared experiences, especially new experiences, create bonds. They also help people see each other’s emotional responses and behaviors. 

How much bonding you get depends, in part, on the type of challenge you pick. Sitting at a baseball game will probably produce less bonding than teaming an ax-throwing competition.

Professional team building companies like Team Out or Marco Experiences will happily plan your team outing or retreat, so you can sit back and bond along with everyone else.

Challenges: Think Outside the Escape Room

Looking for something more cerebral than sports and parties? Why not complex problem solving? 

Escape rooms, mazes, and hypothetical problem situations reflect the kind of complex problem solving people do at work (albeit in a more fun format). Rather than a physical challenge, it’s a mental one that calls on  team members to work together in pursuit of a common goal. 

In a low-stakes environment, people can watch each other ask questions, share ideas, offer opinions, and take risks. They notice each other’s strengths and blind spots, which sets them up for effective collaboration later on at work.

Outback Team Building & Training and The Escape Room have some great options if you want to go this route! 

Training: Learn the ABCs of Team Effectiveness 

Team building doesn’t always have to happen outside the office. 

Sometimes, all you need to do to improve a team is teach people what to do and what to avoid. 

Through workshops, training classes and eLearning, they can cultivate skills linked to team success. While training may not sound as appealing as wine tasting with your teammates, it’s an effective way to provide your team with the information they need to thrive. 

Armed with the right skills and tools, they can successfully achieve goals—and that’s appealing.

Check out these businesses if you want to lead with a skills-based approach: Run one of Patrick Lenciono’s Five Behaviors workshops, or commit to do some eLearning with Talent LMS, or bring in Summit Team Building for in-person training.

Assessments: Increase Self + Other Awareness

Knowledge is power. 

When you understand WHY people behave the way they do, their odd or irritating behavior bothers you a lot less. 

Use a valid assessment—based in research—to help you understand aspects of your own and other people’s behaviors. 

Different assessments measure different things. The classic Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator measures personality traits, while DISC measures communication styles and StrengthsFinder measures, surprisingly, strengths.  

FourSight: Choose “All of the Above” 

The last team building solution is our own. 

We may be biased, but the FourSight Mindset Reveal workshop is a fast, proven way to build teams in a hurry. 

In under two hours, it combines elements of all of the team-building activities above, including fun experiential activities that create bonding, research-based insights that improve collaboration, and training to help people get things done—together. 

FourSight helps you see the people on your team through a whole new lens with a quick, valid, 10-minute assessment that reveals each person’s problem-solving superpowers. 

With that, it’s easy to match the right work to the right people and align your team for maximum productivity.

Instead of being frustrated by teammates who…

  • Ask too many questions
  • Come up with impractical ideas
  • Overcomplicate things, or
  • Rush into action

You’ll see what’s actually going on inside their heads and how can help your team reach your goals faster.

Contact us to learn more about FourSight and how our workshops and training can benefit your organization.

Three “Don’ts” of Team Building

When you implement any of these solutions, be alert.

  • Don’t put team members in situations where they feel uncomfortable. If people feel forced into doing something they don’t like or enjoy, you may end up doing more harm than good.
  • Don’t foster unfriendly competition between co-workers. If they start off on a combative note, it can lead to long-term adversarial relationships.
  • Don’t imply that co-workers must be best friends. You want your co-workers to be friendly with one another, but not to the point where it interferes with their work. 

Choosing the Right Team Building Solution

The “right” team building solution is the one that’s right for your team. And you don’t have to choose just one. Consider taking a multi-dimensional approach to team building. The chart below shows the impact that different activities have on team bonding. 

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Sarah Thurber

Sarah is managing partner at FourSight and the author of Good Team, Bad Team, The Secret of the Highly Creative Thinker, Creativity Unbound, and Facilitation: A Door to Creative Leadership. Her work helps teams and leaders think creatively, work collaboratively and achieve innovative results.