Using Humor to Help Build Teams

Posted on August 21, 2013.

Yes, I have team building on the brain. Maybe it’s because coming back from summer vacations is a great time to think about bringing your team together.   Seeing this article in the Wall Street Journal on effective office humor made me realize that one of the most effective team buildings I was ever part of was based in humor.

Now before you start, make sure you read my last blog and know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. But if your purpose is to have your teams re-connect and re-establish strong communication, you might want to think about replicating our team building from long ago.

We had several cross-functional sales teams that worked out of many offices across the Mid Atlantic.   Each team was asked to make a video of the office. The video was to represent the area and/or culture of the office location or office personality.  For example, the team near the Maryland beach resorts pulled out surf boards and created their own lyrics to highlight what they love about their town, The best, most creative and the funniest was created by the Baltimore office who didn’t shy away from the good, the bad, or the ugly parts of their fair city. It was hysterical!

All the videos were original and all had some elements of humor. They were then shown at a regional offsite where people were asked to vote on the best (Baltimore won by a landslide).  While I can’t remember what our team’s video was about, I do remember having fun making it. The interesting thing to me was that without any prompting, every office tried to inject humor.

Besides having a good time both making and viewing the videos, the process resulted in many positive outcomes, including:

·      Improving communication within and office

·      Encouraging people to not take themselves too seriously

·      Allowing a creative outlet for people that don’t normally get to do that

·      Appreciating that humor always has a place in the office

You don’t need to have multiple offices to replicate this great activity. You could divide into small teams or functional jobs. You don’t even need to create videos.  The most important thing is to have some purpose in mind and  to communicate that it’s okay to bring some humor to the office.