How to Deflate Your Team’s Morale with a Bad Team Building Activity

Phil True
February 19, 2014

Is your team working together just a little too well lately?  Looking for a way to take things down a notch? Consider these horror stories of office team building activities gone wrong:

A slam book for grown-ups: “During a previous job, I worked in a team that was having trouble getting along, so they brought in someone to help us work together as a team. First activity? We had to go around the room and tell each other what we didn’t like about each other. We might have also had to add what we did like about each other but I honestly only remember the criticisms and the people bursting into tears. We went from simply not being able to work together to actively disliking each other in about 30 minutes. Then we ate a boxed lunch and ended the day by filling out personality tests.”

Lions and monkeys: “We had an exercise run by a consultant who determined what kind of workplace animal each of us was. The boss turned out to be a ‘lion’ (surprise!). I turned out to be a ‘monkey,’ which was great. My coworkers were told that they weren’t allowed to tell me to tidy my workspace because it would stifle my natural simian creativity.”

The temple of the dolphin: “I once had to sit through two hours of a team-building exercise that first involved us all sitting cross-legged on the floor, holding hands with our eyes closed, while the leader described us flying over the ocean into the “temple of the dolphin.” She got very vivid in her description of this imaginary place. It was incredibly difficult not to laugh. After we opened our eyes, we had to watch videos of dolphins and point out the leadership skills they were demonstrating. I am not joking. We did that for well over an hour.”

Read more from the article “The 10 Most Horrifying Team Building Exercise” by Alison Green

Or consider this team building fail:

Of course the point of this article isn’t to encourage a rash of new team building disasters, that was just to get your laughing a bit before we get down to the serious stuff.  If you lead or work on a team, you know the importance of working better together and team building activities can be a great tool for improving team effectiveness.  You also know it can be counterproductive to hold a poorly organized event.  So how do you avoid these mistakes and create the perfect environment for team building?  There is no magic bullet, but here are some top tips that should help you identify good activities:

  • Make it interesting: Just because it worked last year doesn’t mean it will this year, try something different
  • Keep it relevant: The activity needs to be interesting, but it also has to have some application to what they do, otherwise it will feel like a wast of time
  • Involve everyone: Try to find activities that will keep each person engaged
  • Maintain dignity: One of the biggest fears people have about team building activities is the fear of being embarrassed, don’t let it happen on your watch!
  • Check out our blog post: “Do Corporate Team Building Events Work?” for even more tips

Excited about holding a team building event but worried you might not be ready to organize one on your own?  Let the experts at Refreshing Mountain build your next event.  We’ve been hosting groups on our 80-acre property for over 30 years and offer a wide variety of team building and outdoor adventure activities.  We also offer meeting rooms, catered meals and overnight accommodations.  Learn more at