on stage for a motivational team building performance

Motivational team building activities shouldn’t be so hard to find… but they are. How many times have you planned what promised to be a great program but then you find yourself sitting in the back row, smiling at the facilitator’s catchy sound bites in between inconspicuously checking your email on your device by holding it low behind the seat in front of you.

How many times have you left a program wondering what happened to all of the time, talent and resources you spent to inspire? Where are the results?

Too often I speak with leaders looking for a team building program who have been let down before. The truth is, nobody really likes the idea of having to do a team building event. But everybody likes the idea of having a motivated employee and team. So, let’s consider this: What elements do motivational team building activities need to have in order to be successful?

Elements of Good Motivational Team Building

You want people to recharge, get re-energized and to feel connected to your team’s mission and purpose. When we connect with underlying mission and purpose we’re inherently more motivated.

Here are some important elements a team program should have to help you re-energize, reconnect and come away with positive feelings that lead to positive performance behaviors.

  • Fun – Find a genuinely fun program! Don’t underestimate the value in fun.
  • Purpose – Find an activity that helps focus your people on mission and purpose.
  • Creativity – Find a program that requires everyone to think creatively.
  • Negative To Positive – While genuine team building always allows people to vent and express themselves make sure that your program moves through stages from venting any negativity to exploring the positive, ultimately leading to positive outcomes and behavior.
  • Take Aways – Make sure your team building facilitators provide context and take-aways. You’ll want to carry over what you’ve experienced to your daily team work. This last piece ensures that your motivational team building activity will provide real value.

So, how do you know if a team building event will accomplish these goals and be a good fit for your group? Here’s a foundational thought to keep in mind. “There is only one way to get people to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.” – Dale Carnegie

How To Find It – Asking Questions

You need to do a bit of work up front and answer some questions in order to know what you’re looking for so you can find the best fit for your group:

  • What are your goals for this activity?
  • What do you want your people to do differently after this experience?
  • Will this program genuinely engage all of us?

If you’re planning a DIY activity, then tie your company or team’s mission and purpose into the program you plan. If you’re interested in bringing in a professional team building facilitator make sure they ask the right questions. Make sure they take the time to understand your goals and your mission.

Attributes Of The Best Team Events

Okay, so we’ve asked the right questions, we know what we want the end result to be after this team building experience. How do we know if we’re choosing a truly effective exercise? There are specific attributes to consider when choosing a team building activity:

  • Participation – I always say to potential clients that we don’t pull people into our programs. Rather, we draw them in. I hate forced activities; they’re uncomfortable and alienating. The good news is regardless of the size of your group, there are great programs that do get get folks involved and re-ignite passion! I’ll share some specific program ideas below
  • Collaboration – A great team event will take interaction to the next level and will inspire team work, not just individual participation. Make sure the team building exercise you choose offers built-in opportunities for collaboration.
  • Innovation – Everyone loves their own ideas! Give your people a chance to express them by offering activities that require creative thinking and problem solving to innovate new ideas and feel empowered.
  • Authenticity – Your people will want to know what this team building activity has to do with them. It’s not about the facilitator. It’s not about delivering a punch line or a catchy quote that you might see stamped on a set of cute coasters in the store. It’s about doing something that gets them thinking, working together, and the f word again — fun!
  • Competition – Appealing to people’s competitive edge often motivates them like nothing else can! A bit of competition always peaks people’s interest and the desire to engage. You don’t have to get into extreme challenges to provide competition. The ideas below create fun competition without making you climb mountains or ropes; although those programs are great too for the right kind of group!

3 Good Motivational Team Building Activities

So now without further delay, here are motivational team building programs I’ve found to be engaging and effective.

Story Slam – 5 minutes, a theme, and the truth. That’s all you need for a good Story Slam. This program has the authenticity and participation pieces built right in. Choose a theme, then each participant takes a turn telling a true story based on their own experience around that theme for 5 minutes. Add in a competitive element by judging the stories and viola! You’ve got yourself a team activity that allows everyone to engage, learn something new about their peers, speak from the heart, and empathize with each other.
Team Building Through Song – Yes, this is my company’s program. So naturally I believe in the team building we do which is guiding your people to tell your company’s story through songwriting. Fun is an understatement with this activity! You can write one song in a large group setting, or break your group into teams to write their own songs and add that competitive spirit. There’s nothing better than starting with a blank canvas, coming up with ideas bringing it all together. You’ll come away with a compelling song representing the best of who you are and what you do. You can build competition into this by vying for awards such as ‘Best Song’ or ‘Best Performance’.
Escape Game – Solving a series of clues in order to get out of a locked room with a time limit? This has team work written all over it! Your people are forced to collaborate to solve mysteries and find their way out. And this isn’t your child’s easter egg hunt. The clues are typically really tough. It’s interesting to discover how different teams strategize and deputize in order to accomplish the mission. Nobody likes to lose and have a staff member let you out of the room, so you’re guaranteed to have motivated team members working together.

Take time to develop and understand your purpose and goals with every team building program you consider. Choose an activity that allows your people to express their authentic voices. They want to participate and have fun, not listen to a talking head.

To find more programs here are 10 great team building event ideas.

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.