The Dark Side of Teambuilding Activities

Teambuilding activities of every variety can be found in hundreds of locations on the internet.  Some of these activities really are very helpful, some aren’t useful at all, and others are somewhere in the middle.  The problem for camp staff isn’t in finding activities to do; the problem is discerning which activities are going to be the most beneficial for your group.

Let’s make it easy; there is one activity that holds the trump card over all others when beginning the process of building your team.

This is it:





Yes, the best teambuilding activity to do if you want to build a team that works well together is absolutely nothing at all.

This seems backwards, and certainly is not the truth in every situation, but is true often enough that it should be a first choice option.

Why is nothing better than any one of the thousands of other options?

First, it doesn’t develop a false sense of community and unity.  Teambuilding activities are methods to quickly encourage people to feel comfortable around each other and united in task and purpose; they do a great job of making this happen.  And if your group is together and looking for purely theoretical understanding of teamwork, than a number of teambuilding activities will be effective.

But the reality of these activities is that people are united around a superficial task and purpose; none of the real pressures of day-to-day unity exist in this type of false setting.  They learn to solve problems in an isolated situation, but aren’t necessarily prepared to solve similar problems in other settings.

Second, skipping the teambuilding activities allows you more time to get into the nitty-gritty. Liberal amounts of time dedicated to skills training and preparation is particularly important for staff development, and including too many teambuilding activities eats into that valuable time.  Since you have incredibly limited time to connect people and train them to do their jobs, it is often best to throw them right into what is real and skip the fake.  They will develop teamwork as they go along.

Now, teambuilding activities certainly do have their place.  There are actually several actual activities available on this website for situations in which the traditional format would be beneficial.  But it is probably best not to assume that a teambuilding activity is an automatic requirement when you put a group of individuals together.

It isn’t.

Building teams can happen in a multitude of ways, and you should always be open to thinking outside the box.


Related Articles:

Training: Summer Staff

Teambuilding Games: How to Choose

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