Why Scavenger Hunts Make Great Team Building Exercises
Having a scavenger hunt may seem like child's play, but truth be told, it counts as a very effective team building exercise. Many business managers feel reluctant to add games and fun to their training line-up, because they don't see the connection between playing games and the bottom line. However, taking a day out to build a company's team is actually an excellent business investment. It fast-tracks many of the skills that employees need to learn and ensures that they're having fun doing it.
Hunt or Adventure or Both?
No doubt, most people know the basic rules of the las vegas scavenger hunt. People are divided up into teams, given a list of silly (and sometimes nearly impossible) items to find, and a time limit to find them and bring them back. It is a hunt for some, an adventure for others, and just pure silliness for the rest.
It's easy to overlook the truth of the last sentence, but it highlights why a team building exercise can be so effective. It actually doesn't matter if the group is doing a scavenger hunt, playing a ropes course, or doing a wilderness hike.
Eventually, the game brings out the roles that people naturally play. That's one of the real benefits of team games. The natural leaders emerge as do the best delegators and the problem-solvers. The game also exposes weaknesses that could cause a business organization trouble down the road.
What Was That Again?
Additionally, team building exercises expose each person's communication style. Many of the challenges faced by an organization have to do with poor communication. Again, the scavenger hunt provides a good analogy. For the sake of this article, pretend that one person feels that the best strategy for the game is to divide the players and the list up, in theory helping the team get the items on the list faster. However, this same person doesn't communicate that belief, and the team comes in last place.
It's a simple example, but this type of behavior does happen in an organization. Team members who don't have a lot of confidence will refuse to speak up, because they fear being scoffed or they worry that their ideas are too simple to matter. The team building game reveals very quickly who might fall into this category as well as who the scoffers might be. And because not as much is at stake, it may be easier to correct these issues during the game than it would be in a tense, real-world situation.
Taking Time to Build Bridges and Relationships
The underlying point of all of this may be that team games build relationships, without putting pressure on each team member. It also allows all team members to have a chance at being equal, because all are given the rules of the game at the same time. Many of the barriers that cause workers and managers to hold themselves back at work go away, because the game "doesn't matter."
However, from a psychological perspective, the benefits go beyond just winning the hunt. While it might be embarrassing to ask a neighbor for an old pair of shoes, the skills that each person develops in pursuit of such ridiculous items can have a long-term effect on bottom line. Each person should come away with sharper communication skills, a better idea of the roles he or she best plays, and smoother relationships.
That's the real benefit of the game.