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Designing the right team-building activities

Joseph Perla

Engineering Manager at Lyft

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Problem

"When I first started out, I hosted happy hours because my previous manager had held these kinds of events. But I soon realized that several team members did not drink. Some of them didn't drink for religious reasons, and others were just young engineers who weren't into alcohol. I realized that happy hours didn't provide them with a good opportunity to relax."

Actions taken

"I rethought our team-building activities and designed new ones. These weren't just random social events we picked from a list, but were highly personalized based on the interests of my team members. For example, one of my direct reports loves watching movies, especially superhero movies. So when the latest Spider-Man came out, we were sure to watch the movie together as a team, during work hours. At a team barbecue, I ensured our diverse set of international team members were able to cook a dish from each of their respective countries, sharing a part of themselves and their culture with the rest of the team."

Lessons learned

"I instilled a deep sense of social inclusion both within the team (to foster a distinct team identity) and with the broader company (to help sow the company's culture). A high-quality social cohesion can only be uniquely provided by your team and company and it cannot be replicated. My last team loved the many happy hours, movie nights, team barbecues, and hikes we did together and with other teams. They built bonds, while at the same time the events raised awareness about various team responsibilities."


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Joseph Perla

Engineering Manager at Lyft


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