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5 Team Building Ideas You Haven’t Heard of (Yet)

Group activities are an integral part of any company retreat. Primarily designed to foster interaction between employees, team building exercises can also strengthen skills such as communication, strategy and critical thinking.

If you’re planning a company retreat or annual meeting, consider venturing offsite to a dedicated event space like Southfork Ranch, filming site of TV’s Dallas. Not only will your team feel more relaxed and open, they’ll also be free of the daily distractions of the office. If you’re intent on running your own team building activities, here are five unique ideas to get you started.

1.      Back-to-Back Art
This exercise can be done with a simple printed photo, a pad and a pen or marker. If you have a team of creatives (or you want this to be a more entertaining experiment), a tablet or laptop with a drawing program can be substituted in place of the paper and pen. Preparation: Print out an assortment of photos of simple objects (such as an apple, book or tree).
●       Start by dividing everyone into pairs.
●       Place pairs of chairs back-to back so the two people in a team can’t see one another. Have them sit down.
●       Give one person in each group a printed photo.
●       Give the pad and pen (or tablet with drawing program open) to the other person in the pair.
●       The person with the photo must describe the object in their photo to the other person, without using the name of the object. So, if you get a picture of an apple, you can say its round with a little brown stem at the top, but you can’t say words like “Macintosh” or “apple.”
●       After the person is done drawing, he or she shows their partner the picture and they compare. Did the “artist” get it right?

2.      Blindfolded taste (or smell) test
The new “trust fall,” this exercise can be done a myriad of ways. The easiest way is for one or two helpers to set out chairs and prepare small samples of food items. Everyone takes a chair at the table. One team member is then blindfolded and given a sample food item to eat. He or she must guess what the food is without help. Then, the blindfold passes to the next person, and they are given a different food item, and so on.

3.      Team Trivia
Most cities offer pub trivia nights where tables compete against each other in a traditional quiz with 6 or 9 rounds and a final question. If you want to avoid outside competition, stay onsite at Southfork Ranch and create your own trivia game. Divide everyone into small teams of 3-5 and have them choose a team name. Hand out trivia answer sheets with numbered blanks for their answers. Then, read off a series of ten trivia questions on everything from sports and science to pop culture. Allow teams 1-2 minutes of discussion for each question. Once the teams have finished filling out their sheets, collect them and score 1 point for every correct answer. Tip: Throw in a few company-related questions to keep teams focused.

4.      Flash Mob
We’re sure you’ve heard of this activity – but probably not as a company bonding exercise. Flash mobs are intriguing because they can be done anywhere, even at your office. The idea is simple: Get everyone on your team to come together in one spot at the same time and do something fun and crazy. Examples include having everyone dress like a secret agent and freeze in a public place, or do the “Thriller” dance to a radio or smartphone playing the song.

5.      Lego Build-Off
For our last suggestion, you’ll need Lego building bricks (or similar toys) and plans for a small build. You can easily find small Lego items with instructions at any toy or department store. Purchase one set for each group. Divide up attendees into groups of 3 and assign each person a role: Runner, Looker and Builder. The runner is the only player that can grab bricks from the pile. The looker is given the construction plans, and can’t show them to anyone. The builder is responsible for putting the toy/item together and is the only one allowed to assemble bricks. The goal is to put together the toy as shown in the instructions, with every person completing only his role. This one is great for building better communication, and understanding where breakdowns in communication could happen.    

Don’t want the hassle of setting up activities yourself? Southfork Ranch near Dallas, TX, offers team building packages for small and large groups, with a full-service conference center and more than 300 acres to host your event. Contact us at 972-442-7800 or request information online and get started on your journey to an unforgettable company retreat. 

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