Team Bonding Ideas

Do your team-building activities include a sense of fun?

Dr. Becky Barker is the Director of Leadership and Volunteerism at the University of Oklahoma, working with students, colleagues and organizations. In this video, Becky discusses the importance of team building and team-building activities that foster collaboration, trust and a sense of fun.

She adds that team-building activities enable team members to engage in shared experiences and create shared memories. The result is a team with close bonds, valued relationships and a sense of responsibility to and for each other.

Team building activities don't need to be expensive or last for days, Becky explains, as she shares several team building activities in which she has participated with her teams.

Learn the value of team building and team bonding, and steps you can take to develop strong, collaborative, high-achieving teams.
As a manager I think it your responsibility to also play. That's something we try to incorporate even into a little office retreat, or an exercise that we decide to do, an activity. Is that play is so important, because there are so many things we can learn from it. We can have a great time, but it gives us a common experience, a shared experience, that we can then make meaning of for our life in the office or our responsibilities, our leadership role or our role as the team. And it is just really critical that we get out. We get out beyond the walls of the office and that we play, that we have fun together. It goes a long, long way.

And sometimes managers are hesitant to take the time to do it, but if they do it, then they realize that people respond well. They like to have fun as long as the activity you're doing and that you're choosing, is really within the scope of people's comfort level. So it has to be appropriate and so that's something that the manager needs to be in tune with. But it's so important to get away.

It doesn't have to be for a long period of time. It doesn't have to be expensive. But it can be something that is well thought out, that has meaning, that's relevant so then you can debrief it. But then also whenever you're back in the office environment, reflect upon it and then learn from it again. And take that experience and revisit it periodically. A lot of times, in our office, we'll be like "Remember when we did this," and it all comes flooding back of what fun we had, but then the lessons that we learned.

I know one time we took a field trip to Dallas and we went to Ikea and we went to the Container Store. But they were both very meaningful activities. And on the away to Dallas we talked about the values that the Container Store has because they have very specific principals in which they operate by. Ikea, the store is set up a certain way. And so while we were driving to Dallas we were having a meaningful conversation about our principals, and then when we went into Ikea we looked at it from the principles of Ikea. What the experience is like when you walk in and how are you greeted? How are you treated? And then we went about a quarter of a mile and did the same thing at the Container Store.

Although we had fun and we shopped and had a great time, at the dinner that night we talked about what are we doing. How do people feel when they walk in our office? What type of experience are we creating? How is our office flow setup? Is it one that is welcoming? How do we treat our customer? How do we help people to feel served? And although it sounds kind of silly, it was really a powerful conversation and now anytime we talk about that trip, it was meaningful, and those principles still come up. So it is pretty neat.

Dr. Becky Barker

Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Barker has worked in higher education since 1985 in various roles in student leadership development and leadership education. Her current work at the University of Oklahoma focuses on empowering college students to...

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