Everyone has been there – attending a team building event that either had no element of team building in it or just wasn’t an activity that appealed to the group. Here at All Wrapped Up Events, we love planning fun, engaging team building events. Often companies tell us that their last team building event didn’t go quite as well as they hoped and we realized it’s usually because they forgot to start with two key steps.
1) The first step to creating a successful team building exercise is to determine what you want to accomplish by the end of the event. This step MUST be completed first – before choosing your activity. Your goal could be as simple as developing camaraderie between two teams that recently merged or more complex like dealing with conflicts amongst the group or developing support between team members.
2) The second key step is to pick an activity that will appeal to the group participating. Don’t just choose an activity that sounds fun – take the team’s interests and fitness levels into account. You could ask what the group wants to do or put a few ideas up for a vote. When the group has had some input into the activity they are more likely to enjoy it and become more engaged.
There are tons of great team building exercises that can be accomplished right in your board room but today we will be focusing on half to full day excursions from the office with some examples in and around Toronto. Just remember that whatever you pick needs to fit with what you are trying to accomplish.
For the adventurous thrill seekers
A ropes course can be a great way to build problem solving skills and camaraderie among your group. Many ropes courses will have a team focus where getting to the end involves the help from all team members as opposed to a course that each person could complete independently. Boler Mountain offers a challenging treetop excursion that includes ropes, Tarzan swings, pirate nets and swinging bridges.
Zip lining is another great activity for the adventurous. This activity can build trust and support throughout the group. Long Point Eco Adventures offer a great zip line tour approximately 2 hours from Toronto.
Rock climbing encourages teamwork and trust with your climbing partner. This activity is great when individuals have to work closely with another person to complete tasks at work. I do caution that this one should only be done if everyone is one board, in pretty good physical health and already comfortable with their teammates. Basecamp Climbing is right in Toronto and accommodates corporate groups and team building.
For the puzzler
Escape rooms are quite the trend right now and are incredibly popular for team building activities because of their emphasis on problem solving as a group. The rooms are often designed so that groups must work together in order to escape and often must use multiple skills sets to do so. Just watch that the hierarchy stays back in the office and that the boss does not remain the decision maker in this exercise. This activity will also work to facilitate communication as group members will need to explain their ideas and theories as the time ticks down. Secret City Adventures are my favourite group of escape rooms – running games at Casa Loma and downtown. They now have a new location at Black Creek Pioneer Village.
Photo scavenger hunts are another good activity when problem solving is the objective. They are also a great way to explore the city. Teams are given a question sheet and have a certain amount of time to check off as many items on the list as possible. For example you might have to find a lost tourist and help them reach their destination or take a picture in front of the oldest running hotel in Toronto. Groups must work together, think on their feet and be creative in order to win this one.
Activities to feed the hunger
Sometimes the goal of a team building activity is just to get out of the office, build friendships with your other teammates and not discuss work tasks. Events surrounding food and drink are a great way to get people talking.
Food tours are one of my favourite food related activities because they allow you to try new foods, explore a neighbourhood and find some truly unique gems. There is often a theme to the tour so have the group decide on their favourite before booking. The Culinary Adventure Co. offers numerous tours throughout Toronto such as the Made in Canada food tour and tours of Little Italy, Little India, Kensington Market and more.
Winery and brewery tours are also great if you want to liven things up. After a couple of glasses you might not be able to get a word in and there certainly won’t be any awkward silence! Most wineries and breweries offer guided tastings with their tours. These activities are great in combination with more traditional team building exercises throughout the event that strengthen key skills like teamwork, communication, support etc. Prince Edward County and Niagara on the Lake are both great locations for wine tours and Steamwhistle Brewery is centrally located and has a fantastic event space and patio should the festivities continue after the tour.
Cooking and cocktail making classes are a few other ways to incorporate food and drink into your activity with something that is really hands on.
Activities that bring out the inner child
Bowling, ping pong, arcades and board games have been making their way into Toronto bars in recent years. All of these are great places to have fun with colleagues but with an emphasis on teamwork and healthy competition. Try an old fashioned Bowlerama or the trendy Ballroom Bowl. Spin and Smash are two great ping pong bars whereas Tilt and The Get Well offer a selection of old school arcade games and local craft beers.
Don’t forget that if you offer alcohol, make sure to provide food as well. Don’t want to have your group get TOO comfortable or sloppy with one another.
Still having trouble determining the right type of team building event for you or just don’t have enough time to plan it? All Wrapped Up Events plans corporate events including team building events. Contact us today for a free consultation!