corporate team with stacked hands

Team members are the heart of an organization’s success, so it’s important that organizations cultivate a work culture that prioritizes trust, cooperation, accountability, equity, and psychological safety. According to Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to the success of the business.

Learning how to build a positive team culture is vital to the workplace. Harvard Business Review notes that fostering social connections is a crucial strategy; team activities and exercises can aid in this goal. By bringing people together and giving them a common objective to work towards, you can create a positive atmosphere and fuel your team’s camaraderie.
This guide and checklist walks you through a few fundamental questions that will help you plan the successful rollout of a team-building activity that will foster a positive team culture in the workplace.

Learn how CMOE's teamwork programs can assist teams in overcoming common challenges and unlock formulas for success.

7 Fundamental Questions to Ask to Successfully Run a Team Activity

As you prepare to launch a team-building activity, there are a few important questions you need to answer. Every organization is unique, and the needs and goals of each team are different. Thinking through the factors below as you plan your team event will ensure that the activity you choose meets the needs of your specific team.

1. Have Team Members Been Consulted?

Before running an activity with your team, you need to seek their input to ensure that the team is willing to grow and that the activity you’re considering will strengthen your team in the ways you intend. Different team-building activities have different goals and end results, so it’s important to have a good sense of the experiences and areas of focus that would benefit your team as well as the gaps you are trying to fill. By asking your team members for their input on what they see as the team’s strengths and limitations, they will also feel heard and respected. This will help you build a positive team culture by ensuring everyone feels more comfortable and eager to participate, learn, and grow.

2. Is the Activity Inclusive?

Teams consist of diverse groups of members who have different backgrounds, personalities, communication styles, and life experiences as well as differing levels of physical or cognitive ability.

It’s important to be sensitive to these differences across your team and think through your group’s needs up front:

  • Does the activity fall within the ability levels of the group so that everyone is able to participate in and learn from the experience?
  • Is everyone willing to participate throughout the duration of the event and be fully engaged?
  • Are there additional team-member limitations that may prevent some individuals from participating fully and need to be considered?
  • In what ways does the activity need to be facilitated or moderated so that everyone is willing and able to participate to the best of their abilities?

Many teams also have remote team members who must be taken into account. Virtual activities come with unique challenges, so it’s important to understand how to make them engaging. Weaving in gamification elements, chat features, and small-group sessions are just a few ways to spark community over the web. If you need to run your team activity virtually, be sure to test all virtual tools and software beforehand to ensure that the activity runs smoothly.

team wearing navy shirts with arms linked behind backs

3. Is This Activity Relevant, Engaging, and Purposeful?

A team activity should be fun for the group but also have a clearly defined purpose. This helps to break the ice, allows people to themselves, and engages the creative side of the brain in addition to driving the team towards a common goal that is aligned with team and organizational priorities and values. This balanced approach creates a positive environment where team members get to enjoy themselves while making real progress on team needs.

4. Will This Activity Develop Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety exists on teams where members aren’t worried about being criticized, put down, or embarrassed for sharing ideas, questions, or concerns. It is one of the strongest predictors of team effectiveness.

Psychological safety allows individuals to respectfully disagree with one another, raise constructive tension, and express concerns and ideas in an environment that feels secure and free of risk, which can lead teams to make better decisions and achieve better outcomes.

Whether the activity is a brainstorming session or an experiential teambuilding exercise, psychological safety encourages participants to be confident, invest their whole selves, and gain everything they can from the activity.

5. Does the Activity Encourage Team Members to Collaborate with Different People?

Individuals naturally tend to gravitate towards and spend time with people they already know. One of the benefits of running a team activity is that it can encourage people who are less familiar with one another to work together and get to know each other better. To ensure that you get the most out of this aspect of your team event, make sure that members of the sub-groups or breakout teams you’ll need for the activity are diverse in terms of their backgrounds, job roles, or functions on the team. Creating mixed teams is a good way to help team members build connections with others and form new relationships that can give them alternative perspectives and will continue to benefit them once they return to work.

6. Is There Time for Reflection and Discussion?

Giving team members the opportunity to reflect on and discuss their experiences with the group ensures that they will internalize key takeaways from the activity. This will encourage the team to focus on relevant themes and reflect on necessary next steps as they relate to the work of the team and its interpersonal dynamics. The time spent discussing the team’s experiences will also help to highlight the true purpose of the activity: to learn from the experience and one another and create shared meaning among team members.

Here are some discussion questions to consider using following a team activity:

  • What did they learn about one another and themselves?
  • How does the theme of the activity relate to their workplace experience or current team initiatives?
  • What are the skills they learned or used during the activity that they can apply in their roles?
  • What personal meaning does the activity hold for the participants?
  • In what ways does the activity meaningfully highlight the unique strengths and weaknesses of the participants?

7. Does the Activity Encourage Application and Change?

The activity you choose should lead to meaningful dialogue about the team culture, how it operates, its strengths, and where it can be more effective. This will encourage all team members to have important conversations about how to build a positive team culture and how the team is operating as a whole. The activity should also provide opportunities for reflection and a post-event application plan so that every team member can leverage the experience, gain a meaningful takeaway, and transfer the lessons learned during the activity back to the job.

For more guidance on helping teams reach their full potential, lean on CMOE’s High-Performance Teamwork workshop. Our team is ready to enhance team engagement and culture to help leaders build strong teams centered on trust, communication, and unity.