Checklist for Trainer in Team-Building Exercises

1. Every participant is different, and every one of them has a different level of understanding and emotional condition when they begin the course. Research your audience, for example you want to use a certain element in an exercise but you may discover that one participant has a phobia for that particular element. Be prepared before encountering these awkward situations. Don’t base your research only on age; you may be surprised by the results.

2. Always buy more resources than planned. You can never know what part of your logistics may fail you, what material may break before or during or the way the participants will handle the resources.

3. Adapt your teaching style and the learning styles of the participants. Remember everyone is different and understands things in a certain way. People may react differently in different contexts.

4. Timing is essential. Offer time for discussions, recreation and the unexpected. Don’t group together too many physical exercises. The best proportion for a team-building program includes: 33% physical exercises, 33% experiential learning and 33% discussion and traditional exercises.

5. The scope of a team-building is to reach certain objectives. Remember them when choosing an activity. Don’t choose an exercise because it is funny or popular but because it covers a need of a team or reaches an objective of the team-building.

6. Allocate sufficient time for the team-building. A well prepared training can take from 2 to 5 days. If the time allowed is less than half a day then it beats the point of the entire team-building.

7. BANG at the beginning and end. Start the team-building with well-prepared icebreakers that will set the mood for the course and allow people to relax and fin a comfort zone. At the end of the sessions, inspire and motivate them to set in action the lessons learned during the course of the activities.

8. Make a logistics list, prepare your material ahead of time, double-check them and learn to use materials that you haven’t worked before.

9. Debrief after each exercise and ask participants to make notes of their conclusions in a Learning Log.

10. Never presume that everyone will be able or accept to do a certain task, especially if it implies a risky activity. Prepare sub-task, which a person can handle.

11. Everyone is equal during a team-building, therefore do not allow participants put pressure or hassle other participants. Often, people in management positions give orders just because of their position outside the game. Do not hesitate to remind everyone this is a group activity, where everyone has the same position.

A Non-Waste Of Time Team-Building Exercise (And Yes You Can Try This At Home)

You moan, you groan. Your manager has called one of his infamous “team-building” meetings, and it’s only the threat of getting fired that propels your butt out of your chair and into the meeting. What a waste! Sitting around doing departmental Kumbaya when you have piles of work marked “Urgent!” and “Rush!” on your desk.

So it isn’t exactly in a mood of eager anticipation that you park your unhappy self in the meeting room. Mobile devices are strictly forbidden, so you don’t even have the distraction of mindless browsing, tweeting or texting. You wish you’d learned the art of napping with your eyes open, especially when your manager announces with great pride, his latest and greatest team-building exercise.

He states that he wants the team to work more closely together, to think of each other more as family than as co-workers. And you’re thinking “Right. As in highly dysfunctional family.” He goes on to say that each team member has a particular strength they lend to the team, and that if each team member would bear in mind their teammates’ strengths, the team would function better as a whole. A highly cohesive unit. He states he will now point out what he feels is each team member’s strength.

Oh great, you think, he’s gonna tell us who the movers and shakers are, and pin a woeful L on the others. Like we didn’t know already who his favorites are. You stifle a yawn and pray for this to be over soon.

Your manager turns to the guy you consider by far the most innovative and creative in the bunch, and says “Your strength is energy. You bring tremendous energy to whatever project you’re engaged in.” You’re surprised. You would have thought he’d laud this guy’s innovations.

Your manager turns to another team member and says “Your strength is your ‘whatever’ attitude.” You smirk inside. Yup, he’s gonna nail the L on this guy, who was born with the sarcasm gene. But your manager takes a different route. He says “You don’t jump up and down enthusiastically, but you never complain. You say ‘whatever’ to any part of the project you’re assigned and take it on.”

You sit up and take notice. Your manager’s right. That is how Mr. Whatever behaves. Your manager defines another’s strength as ‘playfulness’ and appreciates how that individual lets in new ideas. You listen differently now, as your manager speaks to, not work accomplishments or the lack thereof, but to something positive about the essence of every person on the team. And he’s right on, every time.

Your manager concludes by stating that he wants each team member to think of the others in the light of these strengths. And darned if that isn’t exactly what happens! You start looking at your co-workers differently, not in terms of what they can or can’t do for you, how successful they are at this or that project, but rather how they bring their “energy,” or “whatever or “playfulness” to the mix, and how that does make the whole team function better.