group bonding events

I’m sure you’re puzzled by the title of this blog post. After all, if you’re reading it then you’re probably looking for activities for a corporate event or meeting – something this Website (and company) is entirely devoted to. However, as I will explain there is more to these kinds of events than meets the eye, and planners and organizers such as yourself will need to understand some basic tenets so that your participants get the most benefit possible out of the experience.  

The conventional wisdom on office team bonding goes like this: we identify an opportunity for growth, focus in on it intensely with a high-impact experience, and hope that it will have a lasting result back at the workplace. The focus could be on a particular area of concern, such as poor communication or collaboration skills; a desire to boost morale; or simply wanting to integrate departments/new team members. Regardless of the goal, the underlying premise is an urgent need to improve upon the current situation through an impactful shared experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this – as the founder of a team building trivia events company, I believe strongly in the value of high-quality experiences to bring people together, and get them talking in a way that they haven’t before to start working better with one another (these experiences are also ever-changing and evolving, as this recent article shows). But producing good teams doesn’t start and end with a single event – not by a long shot.

Actually, the key to building solid teams comes way before your event, and here it is: finding the right people. I know this isn’t the answer you were looking for, because let’s face it – this is HARD to do. It’s much easier to pick up the phone, call a vendor such as TrivWorks, produce a great event and be done with it. But like anything else worth doing, if it were easy than everybody would do it. As I’m sure you are aware, not everybody has fantastic teams – so there you go!

Finding the right people is a challenge in several ways. For starters, most managers “inherit” teams upon commencing their role, whether being promoted or coming in from outside the department or organization. When you’re the manager in this situation, you generally don’t have the benefit of choosing your people; rather, you’re told that this is who you have to work with, and whom you need to rely on to get the job done. The truth is, until you get to this point you simply have no sense of what kind of group you’ve got.

Now that you have Team 1.0, where do you go from here? Depending on your unique circumstance, you may not have the flexibility to change things around much. New hires? Sorry, budget crunch. Under-performers? Nowhere else to transfer them to. Summer interns? Not coming for a while. In short, it can be a real drag – but you might be stuck with what you’ve got for the foreseeable future.

But imagine if you will what your “ideal” team would look like: the optimal individual filling each role, performing their assigned tasks to perfection and functioning as one cohesive unit. This well-oiled machine with you at the helm produces a massive output of high-quality product or service, has excellent efficiency, is constantly innovating, and is the pride of your organization – nay, your industry!

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Of course, the only way you can achieve this ideal is to identify and secure these people, which is no easy task. I leave it to other professionals who are far more well-versed in recruiting to tell you how to do this, however what I CAN tell you is that once those people are in place, it makes a world of difference. I was having lunch with a new client recently, and she told me, “Happy employees make happy customers.” This is so true, of course, because people who genuinely love working at a place together – and with each other – are going to radiate positive energy and good karma, which translates directly into revenue.

In my view, the gold standard in seeking out excellent teams is set by Shake Shack. They’ve really taken to heart the importance of hiring good people being above all else in delivering excellent product. Whereas most employers have a set list of criteria and qualifications for employment, what Shake Shack does is different. They hire with a single question in mind above all else: would I enjoy working with this person? Is this the kind of person whom I could work with day in, day out? Is this person a good “fit” for our team, our department, our culture?

When you take this approach to creating your team, it takes on an entirely new dimension. By putting what are typically considered to be secondary or “soft skills” into the forefront when making the hiring decision, Shake Shack is in effect allowing hiring managers to choose the right people based not on skills alone, but on compatibility. The result? People LOVE working at Shake Shack, and stay loyal to the company for years (click here for a relevant case study, based on a series of team building trivia events we produced with Shake Shack).

In closing, I’d like to share a quick personal story. A year ago, I relocated with my family from New York City to Long Beach, California. In so doing, I needed to build a team of my own back East, in order to keep my business running (trivia emcees for corporate events, producers, graders, etc.). It wasn’t easy, but I devoted the entire year prior to my departure to carefully seeking out the best-possible people to join my team. I was not only looking for talent and relevant skill sets/experience, but also repeatedly asking myself the Shake Shack question: would I enjoy working with these people?

The result has been a hugely successful year, with some absolutely fabulous people whom I genuinely enjoy working with, and who I feel work with me – and each other – exceptionally well. So, believe me when I say it’s possible – because it is!

You can read more about how I built my own team by visiting