What is corporate team bonding anyway? Is it different from team building?

Technically, team bonding may be different from team building but the terms are used interchangeably all the time.

For consultants who work with teams, bonding implies an activity that brings people together to share quality time and build relationships, usually within a short time frame. Team building often implies longer strategies and training that brings a team together through the process of forming, assigning roles and learning how to work well on an ongoing basis.

Corporate Team Bonding Ideas That Actually Bring Corporate Teams Together

Finding good activities that can bring your team together to improve engagement and communication is important. Here are three ideas that work well.

1) The You Are Special Box

I was hanging out with a friend last weekend when she received a text from her daughter who was away at college. The text said, “I love you soooooo much”. Wow – what precipitated that, I asked? My friend had sent her daughter a care package with the usual goodies including, of course, food.

But here’s what prompted the wow: She made a little cardboard box and labeled it “You Are Special”. She filled it with notes like, “You’re really creative”, “Thanks for being a good listener” and “You’ve already accomplished so much”.

My friend told her daughter to keep the box on her desk, take a note out and read it whenever she was having a bad day or feeling stressed. We all have good days and bad days. Wouldn’t it be great to have a reminder full of positivity ready for those moments when you or a teammate need it the most?

I’ve suggested this idea to several clients as a great corporate team bonding activity that’s fun and easy to organize. Feed back on this one has been really good.

Create a similar experience in your workplace by sharing you are special boxes.

  • Ask each team member to create a personalized box for a co-worker.
  • Have everyone add personal notes to each of the boxes.
  • Distribute the personalized boxes, with notes, to each of your team members.
  • Remind everyone to take a note out of the box when they need some positive reinforcement.
  • It’s okay to take a note out of the box, read it, and then put it back in. Shake it up
    every once in a while too!
  • Monitor how this increases communication, sharing and morale. This has power because co-workers create these affirmations for each other.

2) Leaders Learning To Listen

We’ve all been there…another not so great meeting with the boss. It’s supposed to be a meeting of the minds but instead it’s a more like a lecture. The boss goes through his or her check list, asks for updates from all of you, interrupts when you’re updating, draws conclusions for you and gives marching orders until the next meeting.

Is that fun? No! Maybe the above example is the worst-case scenario, but it plays out to varying degrees at company meetings every day. Smart leaders know that listening rather than speaking may be the single most important attribute to cultivate.

When I am getting ready to reason with a man, I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say and two-thirds about him and what he is going to say.– Abraham Lincoln.

You can approach your boss with the specific ideas below for improving team meetings. Don’t tell leadership they’re missing the mark! Simply suggest you have some fun ideas for mixing up meetings to see if results improve.

Improve listening and team engagement

  • Pass out your meeting agenda.
  • Ask someone to announce the first agenda item and to lead discussion about it. With each new agenda item, ask a different colleague to lead discussion about it. Don’t assign discussion items by areas of expertise. You don’t want ‘experts’ talking, you want to create a culture where questioning and dialogue occurs.
  • The leader’s role is to act like a consultant; one who listens and is there to answer questions only when needed.
  • Set a reasonable time for discussion of each agenda item.
  • Close by asking the boss to share what he or she ‘heard’. Was it informative for him or her?
Activities that increase listening are great for corporate team bonding

Activities that increase listening are great for corporate team bonding

Fun! Your meetings will be much more fun. They’ll be a place where problem solving occurs, ideas and tasks evolve. After all, why meet if it’s just to get a lecture. That’s a lecture, not a meeting!

Initially, to execute the above exercise you’ll need to shorten your agenda items and not be as goal focused. Each item will generate more discussion than usual but you’ll discover more engagement for the tasks at hand. Everyone will feel a greater sense of ownership in your combined work.

3) Team Bonding With Music

We all bond around music. Whether it’s sharing your favorite song or arguing about the merits of a particular song, music elicits emotion. It’s something everyone can talk about because everyone relates to music on some level.

My own work is centered on Team Building Through Song®, a musical program I’ve developed that’s led by award winning hit songwriters. Through this program you’ll create, record and perform original songs as a team. This program is a great combination of intellectual activity and pure emotional fun. You’ll share ideas and discuss mission and vision as you create your song lyrics. But you’ll be making music at the same time. It’s a fun mash up of left brain and right brain that’s very effective.

It’s a really good idea to integrate positive activities into your work life. If you check out my eBook, Every Day Team Building, you’ll find fun DIY corporate team bonding ideas you can integrate into your team’s agenda. Over time these ideas will build camaraderie and trust.

Making time to work on how your team members interact is vital to success. Successful leaders and successful teams know that good communication and a high level of engagement are cornerstones of every well functioning and productive work environment. Make time to do this.

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.