Building a Buddy System at Work

The Creative Group

If you're willing to "go white water rafting," "navigate a maze through a cornfield" or "take an improvisational comedy class" with your co-workers, you might be setting yourself up for career success. Taking part in team-building activities -- even those considered optional -- can provide a boost to your career. The examples above are just some of the responses from a survey by The Creative Group that asked executives to describe the wackiest or most unusual team-building activities they have participated in. Other responses include:

  • "Constructing boats out of cardboard and racing them in a pool"

  • "Line dancing on the beach in matching outfits"

  • "Creating a haunted house and inviting clients to visit"

  • "Bungee jumping"

Team-building activities provide the opportunity to bond with co-workers, interact with management and show enthusiasm for the company, all of which can contribute to your professional advancement. Participating in new activities also can help you break out of your comfort zone, take risks and overcome inhibitions -- important skills for those seeking roles of increased responsibility.

Here are some additional team-building activities cited in the survey:

  • "Team drumming"

  • "Going on a group Segway tour"

  • "Creating a human bridge to cross a small stream"

  • "Falling out of trees and hoping your team will catch you"


For those who aren't very adventurous, rest assured you don't have to "go out on a limb" to form effective bonds with colleagues. Following are some additional ideas for building camaraderie with co-workers:


Keep it simple.

Connect with busy teammates by asking them to join you for a quick breakfast at the local coffee shop or a bite to eat after work. Scheduling short sessions around work hours can allow you to talk shop and get to know your colleagues better.


Have fun on a dime.

Team-building activities don't have to be elaborate or extravagant to be effective. Inviting co-workers to partner with you for a walkathon or bake-sale fundraiser, for example, are two activities that require a limited budget and allow you time to bond with those you work with. In fact, volunteering -- whether at a local soup kitchen or your children's school -- is a great way to build stronger ties with both your teammates and the community.


Put your teammates to the test.

Trivia contests or icebreaker games are another fun way to get to know your colleagues. For example, you can ask co-workers to answer a few questions about the company or team at large, and then distribute the answers to the group. Even if there are no prizes, it's a good way to get everyone's mind off work and laugh about what they didn't know.


Just do it.

Even if a certain group activity isn't your cup of tea, try to participate and show enthusiasm. For example, if your team decides to bond over karaoke, but you have no musical ability, pick up the mic anyway and give it a go. Your willingness to try something new will prove you're a true team player and up to any challenge thrown your way.


Reach out regularly.

Formal team-building activities aren't the only time to develop stronger ties with teammates. Small acts can go a long way toward fostering good will. For example, try to always greet those you encounter in the hall and treat a co-worker to lunch on his or her birthday. Consider volunteering to work on projects that require you to interact with people you typically don't encounter. There are plenty of alternatives to the tried-and-true when it comes to team-building activities. Some can even result in significant benefits -- like new ideas and stronger work relationships. So, the next time you're asked for input regarding upcoming team activities -- or want to pitch and implement a few ideas of your own -- consider these options, and you'll help create a more fun and cohesive work team.


Next: What Your Body Language Says About You >>

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms. For more information, visit www.creativegroup.com.

Copyright 2007 The Creative Group.

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