7 Team Building Obstacles and How To Overcome Them

October 25, 2022
Female hurdle race

Team building activities are an important way of developing team morale and team spirit. However, they can also be a source of frustration for team members if not properly planned and executed. Organizers face lots of obstacles when putting together team building events, from finding activities that are not boring, to making sure that the activities they select are inclusive of the entire group.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these obstacles. In this article, we will discuss 7 of the most common team building obstacles and how to overcome them. The tips provided will ensure that the activities you select for your team building event are not only fun and motivating, but that the team will remain engaged throughout the event.

1. Boring activities

Selecting boring team building activities is probably the single biggest obstacle that organizers have to overcome when planning for a successful event. Boring events simply suck all the life out of team building and make people feel like they're wasting their time, or worse that the organizers don't know anything about them and what they're interested in.

The reason so many team building events end up being boring is that organizers don't take enough time and effort at the start of the process to map out what they want from the event before they start putting it together. Also, organizers too often don't bother trying to find out from the team what kinds of activities they would actually enjoy and what their expectations are.

How To Overcome: The first step to overcoming this obstacle is for organizers to map out the purpose and structure of the event in its entirety. This does not have to be a long or complicated process, simply sketch out on a piece of paper how long you want the event to last, what you want everyone to get out of it, and have some high-level ideas of events that could work well.

With this information in hand, your next step is to get high-level ideas from the team about the team building events they might be interested in doing. This can be done in any number of ways, from bringing the question up at your next team meeting to sending out a survey, or by simply asking a few people on the team who you are sure have a good pulse on the rest of the team.

Before you talk to the team, it is best to have sketched out some high-level ideas of what activities are even possible. The last thing you want is for the entire team to get enthusiastic about an idea that is impossible for you to deliver. Make sure you know what the budget is for the event, how much time is allotted for it, and details like whether the group is willing to travel and if so, how far.

Finally, test out the activities you are considering during the planning phase. Nothing will give you a clearer picture of whether an activity is boring or not than testing it out with a few people first. If you are using a team building company for the event, then they should be able to provide you with a demo of the event to see what it's actually like before you schedule. If you are doing the event on your own, then have some people test the short list of activities with you before you finalize the schedule.

2 bored people in a library

2. Poor execution of games

When games don't go well, it can not only cause major embarrassment for the organizer but also present a lost opportunity for the team to have fun and bond. Poor execution of games happens when the team doesn't understand the rules, when people are not evenly matched, or when games either last too long or end too quickly. The result is often frustration and poor engagement for not just that particular event, but future events too.

How To Overcome: Most team building games are quite simple to execute, but there are a few key things that can trip you up if you're not careful. The first step is to make sure that everyone on the team is given clear instructions on the purpose of the activity and how to play it. Provide a brief overview of the rules of the game, what the objective is, and what they should expect from the game.

Secondly, have a good sense of the general skill level of the team so you match the activities to it. If this is a team you know well, then go with whatever your gut instincts tell you is probably the right mix of difficulty, speed and team dynamics. If this is a team that you don't know well, then your best bet is to ask somebody on the team. Preferably choose a leader within the team who knows them well and what they enjoy.

Once you have this information in hand, then just like the previous activity, test the activities beforehand. Get a feel for what they'll be like when it comes to the actual event.

3. Event takes too long

This obstacle goes with the last point on poor execution of games, but it deserves its own mention because it is such a common and frustrating mistake to make. Events that go on for too long lose the interest of their audience quickly. Just like when delivering a speech, organizers need to find that happy middle ground between too short of an event, so it doesn't seem worth the effort, and too long of an event where you lose everybody.

Events generally take too long because organizers did not plan well, or do any testing beforehand. They put a schedule together and simply went forth.

How To Overcome: Overcoming this obstacle is relatively straightforward, plan what you want to do first, then test it out second. It is often a good idea to have contingency plans in place in case the activities chosen end up being more difficult than expected. For example, set a time limit beforehand that is explained to everybody, and tell them what to expect if you reach the time limit before everybody has had a chance to finish. How do you pick a winner, what happens to those that are still working?

4. Games with no flow

A team building activity with no flow means that there is no connection between the different games being played. They are disparate, and often times appear to have no logical connection between them. When games have no flow this causes team members to have to stop and think about what they are doing at every turn instead of being able to flow through the activities, which can lead to confusion and frustration.

How To Overcome: The key to organizing a team building event with flow is to have a clear objective for each activity, and make sure that it relates back to the overall objective of the entire event. Each game should be designed to help the team accomplish the objectives set forth at the beginning of the event. There should be a logical connection between the games, and team members should be able to see how playing one game relates to the next one.

As with most team building obstacles, the best way to avoid events that lack flow is to test the activities out beforehand and see how well they work together. It's important to look out for team building activities that have a lot of downtime between them, or ones where team members would be sitting on the sidelines waiting for their turn. These activities have the highest chance of disrupting the flow of the event.

Team standing in front of flow sign

5. Misses the point of teamwork

Encouraging teamwork is generally the main point of having a team building event. After all, why bother bringing everyone together if not to make them feel like they're part of a team unit, rather than just a collection of individuals?

The team building activities you select should be designed to promote team work. Unfortunately, there are team building activities that do the exact opposite. They tend to pit team members against each other instead of working together. These activities can cause hard feelings and resentment among team members, which is the opposite of what you're trying to achieve.

How To Overcome: Solving this obstacle comes down to selecting great activities. You want to make sure that each activity you select has a clear objective, that is either accomplished by working together as a team, or if it's an individual-based activity, that it has some kind of social component to it.

For example, our Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery is designed to be accomplished by having the entire team work together to solve the mystery. On the other hand, our Virtual Paint Night event is more of an individual activity, but our instructors make sure that there's a clear social and bonding component to it by engaging the group with questions and having everybody share and talk about the art they created at the end of the event.

6. Activities that are not inclusive

Being not inclusive means that some team members are not able to participate in the team building activity for a variety of reasons. It could be that the activity is too physical and team members with disabilities or injuries can't participate. It could also be that team members are not comfortable with the activity, such as having an event that features alcohol for those team members that don't drink. These types of team building activities not only leave team members feeling left out and frustrated, but they also impact the rest of the team if they notice that certain people are not actively participating.

How To Overcome: The key to fixing this team building obstacle is to make sure that the activities you select can be enjoyed by everybody on the team, regardless of their abilities or comfort levels. You want to avoid any team building activity that has the potential to leave team members feeling left out, frustrated, or uncomfortable.

There are a few ways to make sure your team building activities are inclusive. First, you can offer a variety of different activities to choose from so team members can pick the ones they're most interested. Survey the group beforehand and see if there any that cause definite discomfort, so you can eliminate them first. You can also make sure that each activity is able to be tailored to different skill levels, so team members can still participate even if they're not the most physically fit or coordinated.

Finally, you want to make sure you provide clear instructions and guidance for each activity so team members know what to expect. This allows them to communicate if they don't feel comfortable taking part in something, and then you can work together to find a suitable alternative.

7. Team building activities are only done occasionally

Team building should be considered an ongoing process, not something that you only do once in a while. If team building events are only done occasionally, team members may feel like they're being forced to participate and won't get the most out of the activities.

How To Overcome: You want to make team building a regular part of your team's routine. You want to make sure that team building activities are happening on a regular basis, whether that's once a month or once a week. The more often team members participate in team building activities, the more they'll start to see the benefits and feel like it's a valuable use of their time. This reinforces the cycle and makes team building a more effective tool for your team.

The easiest way to make this a habit is to work with a team building company like Ryptic Team Building, where you can select different events for your team for the year, and then schedule them all in advance. This way your team knows when the events will be taking place, they have them on the calendar and can start looking forward to participating.

Smiling team sitting in a field

Conclusion

Team building is a vital process for any successful team, but it's not always easy to get right. These 7 team building obstacles are some of the most common ones that teams face, but they can all be overcome with the right planning and execution.

The key to overcoming team building obstacles is to ensure that you as an organizer understand the team's expectations from the start, focus on activities that are aligned with that expectation, and test the activities beforehand as you thoughtfully plan.

If you want help making sure that your team building events are successful, then check out Ryptic Team Building. We offer a wide variety of team building events that focus on fun and engagement. We can help you select the right activities for your team and get them all scheduled in advance so you don't have to worry about it.

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