How well does your team know one another? Do they get along? Do they know the way that the others think, how they solve problems? Most likely, the answer to at least some of these questions will be ‘no.’ This is when team building exercises can be a benefit to your group. They allow for open communication, the formation of bonds, and a little bit of fun all at the same time. These ten exercises are a great way to get your team on the same page.
A great team building exercise to start with is one called Group Juggle. Have everyone in the group stand in a large circle facing one another. Toss a ball into the group and have each individual toss the ball to someone else in the circle. The challenge? They must call out that person’s name before throwing the ball to them. This is a great way to get your employees to interact and have them learn the names of their coworkers. Once your group seems comfortable with the exercise, throw out a few more balls to increase the difficulty level!
This team building exercise is one that needs to begin before your meeting. The day or so before the meeting, act excited, but don’t tell anyone why. Tell them that they’ll find out the reason at the meeting. Make sure you do this for as many people as possible to build up anticipation for what you will say. However, when it comes time for the actual meeting, walk into the room, stand in front of the group, and say nothing. Remain silent for about a minute and take note of how people react to your silence. Once the minute is up, ask everyone how they felt and what they might have learned.
What’s My Name?
Another fun activity that doesn’t require much preparation is What’s My Name? Write popular icons, such as Beyoncé or Bugs Bunny, on index cards or post-it notes, if you don’t want to have to use tape. Be adventurous with what you put on these cards! They can be professions, cartoon characters, celebrities, anything that a person would reasonably know and be able to guess. Have everyone in the group randomly choose a card without looking at it, and place the names on their foreheads. Instruct them to move around the room, having them ask only yes or no questions to try to guess who they are. Not only is this a fun team building exercise, but it also gets people talking to colleagues that they might not normally have interactions with.
To play the game What’s on Your Desk, have each member of the group bring one item from their desk to the team building exercise. The challenge is to use the object that they bring as a brand-new product, for which they must create a logo, a slogan, and anything else that you can think of. Make sure you set a timer for this! Then, when the time is up, each member of the group must pitch their innovative, new product to the group. When everyone is done with their short presentations, have your group discuss which of the pitches were the most successful and why.
To get your team out of their comfort zones, have them dance! Bring in a game such as Dance Dance Revolution, Just Dance, or download an app such as Dance Party from the app store. Set it up on a screen and have the members of your group mimic the moves that the avatar makes on the screen. You might have a bit of resistance on this one. It’s just human nature. But once you get everyone moving, it’s sure to be a fun time. To take it to the next level, have your group divide into teams to compete.
Still getting your team out of their comfort zone, there’s nothing more energizing than acting and improvisation. To prepare for this exercise, stuff a paper bag with unrelated, random objects, one bag for each small group of about four. The groups won’t know what’s inside when they choose their paper bags. Give each team ten minutes to put together a short skit using each of the items, and everyone in the group must speak. Encourage them to be creative. This can get more introverted parties interacting with their coworkers. Have them perform their short skits for the rest of the group and see what everyone manages to portray.
For a bit of a challenge, try Group Order. Make your team line up based on a certain set of criteria: by birthday, for example. But the key is that they can’t speak to one another. This is a great activity to get to know your coworkers. You’ll also be able to see who takes on a leadership role during the exercise, who finds solutions to the problems at hand, et cetera. Of course, you can do this with more than one guideline. Try timing them on how quickly they can line up based on eye color, hair color, height, or any other set of factors that you can think of.
This activity is a classic, but it can get a little messy. Have every group design a structure that, when dropped, will cushion an egg and keep it from breaking on impact. You can choose to give them a certain set of materials, or you can allow them to use whatever they can find. When each team has created their device, drop them out of a window and see which ones carry the egg safely to the ground. The fun part is seeing if any of the designs work! If you don’t want to use a window, you could have the participants stand on a chair or a table and drop their designs that way.
To play Lily Pads, you need pieces of paper or cardboard that you can scatter across the floor to make a path from one side of the room – aka the ‘river’ – to the other. Participants must step on these ‘lily pads,’ staying in contact with them at all times as they move across the room, lest they be swept away by the river. The goal of this exercise is to get everyone from one side of the room to the other as quickly as possible without stepping off of the lily pads, making sure that not even one foot lands in the river.
In Frostbite, the team breaks up into groups of about four people. Each team pretends that they’ve been stranded in the Arctic wilderness. The goal is to build a shelter to keep from freezing to death. The teams must elect a leader, but this leader is suffering from frostbite and cannot help build the shelter. In addition, the other team members are suffering from snow blindness and cannot see, meaning that they will need to be blindfolded. It’s up to the leader to describe how to build the shelter, being the eyes for their group.
When team building doesn’t work
Many teams just need some exercises to bring them together and get them to interact with one another. Often, this is all it takes for people to get to know each other well enough to begin working together. There are cases where this is not enough and teams need more help working together. In these cases, it may be necessary to bring in a professional.
SourcePoint Coaching offers help in these scenarios. Contact us for a free consultation with Jack Perry to see if working together could help your team become more functional, efficient and successful.