Team Building Activities Can Be Very Simple: Think Food


Adding team building activities into your normal work routine can be simpler than you think.

They can range from a short exercise at the end of an event to scheduled activities for an entire day. Or, they can be as simple sharing a meal together.

In every case, when team members get to know one another on a deeper level, they connect and perform better when they return to work. 

Team Building Activities

Think Food:

Yes, food, and drink. Consider the sharing that occurs when you are willing to sit down and break bread with someone else.

  • Who do you ask to lunch or dinner?

Most likely, those who you want to be with.

A December 2015 article, “Team Building in the Cafeteria,” explores how firefighters preparing meals and eating together boosted group performance.

I remember first meeting my wife when she was working the Atlanta 1996 Olympic games. Sports were everything to this group, so cajoling one another while watching their favorite teams after work was natural for them.

Sharing food and drink at the local sports bar was the perfect environment for them to get together in a unique bonding experience.

Sit down and eat together.

Team Building Exercises:

In several of my most recent blogs, I shared examples of a team building exercise we incorporated into our normal work routine. For example,

  • While running an ROTC program, we dedicated a day to team building at the beginning of each school year by visiting a Leadership Reaction Course.
  • While flying helicopters, at the end of mission, we gained confidence in each other by practicing our IMC breakup procedures.

Work through problems together.

Planning, Rehearsal and Execution:

When I was stationed in Korea, every Thursday we’d fly a different group of soldiers in one of our air assault missions. This was a unique opportunity for them.

Nonetheless, this was an important part of our training, so in order for us to be successful with each Korean unit, we had to develop trust with them, one by one.

Part of our process included:

  • On Tuesday, 2 days prior to the exercise, we conducted the Air Mission Troop Training (AMTT) exercise. This involved flying one or two helicopters to the unit’s headquarters, shutting the aircraft down, and allowing hundreds of soldiers the opportunity to practice approaching the helicopter safely, boarding the helicopter, and then properly using the 4-point seat belt system.
  • On Tuesday, 9 days prior to the exercise, we conducted the Air Mission Commander’s Conference (AMCC), where our aviation company commander met with their Infantry battalion commander for final coordination and to answer any questions for the two events scheduled the following week.
  • An essential part of our process involved Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army (KATUSA) soldiers embedded within our unit. The KATUSAs were critical to our success, enabling us to communicate with our counterparts in Hangul, which most American soldiers did not understand.

Our KATUSA soldiers served a critical role as translators. They were an integral part of our team and we brought only the best to ensure that they developed the trust and confidence we needed for what could be a dangerous exercise.

Our process included three touch points in which we worked together with our international colleagues.

Develop a plan, rehearse, and and execute it together.


Getting Creative

Whether you are able to conduct a full day event or transform one of your work processes into a team building exercise, everyone can start with food.

Unlike a leadership reaction course or a confidence course that favors those who are athletic, food levels the playing field.  It can be a universal bonding experience where anyone can participate.  Check out these additional tips for improving teamwork in the workplace.

On today, the 50th Super Bowl Sunday, what better time to think of the importance of teamwork and the activities that made each team one of history’s greatest.