Although they can be hard to find, fun creative team building activities do exist. Team building can have strong negative connotations because it’s often uncomfortable. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
As a songwriter and pianist who spent the first part of my career behind the scenes, rather than on stage, I can relate to people’s dread of forced group activities. I’m the person who runs out back when someone says it’s time to play a game at a party. As an introvert by nature, I’m deeply attuned to uncomfortable social experience. Yet I’m very open and responsive to genuine experience. You can’t fake fun and you can’t force it.
Why should you care? Because you need your team to be engaged. Sharing a genuine and fun experience can be a catalyst to better communication, improved sense of belonging and increased engagement.
Why Creative Team Building Activities Work
There are too many options for team building that sell a myth. The myth is that if you show up and follow directions you’ll have fun. But life doesn’t work that way, especially for adults. Let’s face it. We don’t like to be told what to do. So you need to find a program that can reach everyone on your team in a genuine way.
Now think of a time you’ve been involved in a creative exercise. Whether it’s singing in the shower, painting pottery or trying a new recipe the underlying feeling is the same. It’s that feeling of being in the moment and engaged with what you’re doing. When you choose a well facilitated creative program you’ll get to experience that joy of being in the moment. And best of all, you’ll share this with your entire team.
One of the coolest things about creative team building activities is that they can be an intensely personal and highly collaborative at the same time. This is the inherent nature of collaborating on a creative project. For example, when an actor is on stage during a performance he or she is enjoying their own individual creative experience. But that actor is also simultaneously collaborating and co-creating with their other cast members. Both individual and group contribution happen at the same time. That’s pretty powerful.
Other benefits of a creative program are the lessons you’ll learn about problem-solving. Every creative endeavor is effectively solving a problem. When an artist sits down to paint he or she begins with a problem; a blank canvas. Through a series of step by step actions the artist solves their problem. The blank canvas evolves into finished art. Well facilitated creative team building activities will help you understand how to use your inherent creativity to solve problems.
Three Creative Ideas To Get You Started
Below are three fun creative team building activities you should consider. They all involve the creative process and they also include deadlines.
Many of us don’t associate creativity with deadlines. In fact, it’s stereotypical to associate daydreaming and musing with creative output. While having time to explore and to experiment is part of innovating, learning how to innovate, problem solve and create on a deadline is important. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I’ve done some of my best work on tight deadlines. Goals and timelines can help us get in the zone and do things we didn’t know we could.
Fun, creative team building activities enable groups to experience creative success on a deadline. This can set the stage for better integrating those creative skills into your work-life with deadlines.
1. Improv At Work
Improv can be scary when it’s not well facilitated. I was once really uncomfortable in a forced improv session; feeling embarrassed and self conscious. But when improv is well facilitated, it’s a blast. Improv exercises build your team’s confidence in your ability to function and thrive in a fast-paced environment. You’ll create, innovate and problem solve in the chaos of the moment, not to far from what could be a typical day at work. And once you get the hang of it, it’s kind of addicting!
When I lead a group through one of my own creative team building activities my clients sometimes say the experience seems magical. But it’s not at all magical. My team and I simply help demystify the creative process through songwriting. We draw people in with the emotional power of music. We connect everyone with their shared experience by helping teams create lyrics that embody who they are and what they do as a team.
When our programs begin, almost everyone is worried they’ll be put on the spot or embarrassed. That’s why we start by listening, talking and sharing what’s important to the people in the room. The fun comes from the camaraderie of swapping ideas, identifying what really matters and then mashing it all into a song.
Similar to an improv program, team songwriting, and performing will give you the satisfaction of feeling genuine accomplishment and increased confidence. That’s because you’ll be participating in an out-of-your-comfort-zone experience that becomes comfortable and safe. You’ll face a challenge and succeed. This program is naturally collaborative and is a great way to break up the hierarchy as team members shine in different ways. It’s a powerful experience for a team to share.
3. A Story Slam
Sharing stories is a great way for everyone who participates to learn more about each other. When we tell a story we reveal a bit of ourselves to our listeners. That willingness to share a bit of our lives creates a sense of community. It also lets our co-workers see a different side of ourselves and that’s great for bonding.
Storytelling is inherently creative. The best stories are a mix of both fact and fiction and every time you tell a story you use your creative power. You’ll never tell a story the exact same way twice. As you create variations and react with your audience you’ll connect with your creative side. A well-facilitated story program is also a great way to connect new team members.