What’s the first thought that pops into your head when you hear the words team-building exercises?
Mine is run for the hills!
I’m not a fan. They make me very uncomfortable!
But experts say they have their place and purpose. They facilitate better communication, break down barriers, foster collaboration and creativity, and boost morale.
So maybe there are team-building activities that are fun, effective and don’t completely suck. Maybe I just haven’t participated in the right ones.
So I set off in a search of them, and here’s what I found:
1) The Human Knot
First off, this exercise only takes 15 to 30 minutes – that’s a plus right there! And it can involve anywhere from eight to 20 staff.
People stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. Then everyone puts their right hand out and takes the right hand of someone across the circle from them. Then they do the same thing with their left hands. Make sure that everyone is holding two different people’s hands and that no one is holding the hand of the person standing next to them.
The object of the game? Get untangled without letting go of anyone’s hand. If the chain is broken, you have to start over.
This exercise requires a lot of communication, teamwork and hopefully some laughs.
2) Blind Drawing
This exercise is also short (about 15 minutes) and accommodates any even-numbered group.
Break everyone up into pairs and have them sit back to back. Give one person a pen and a piece of paper, and give the other person a picture. Then without actually saying what the picture is, the person describes it to his partner who does her best to draw the picture from the verbal description.
After a set time, partners share their drawings with each other and then the group for a few good chuckles!
This game focuses on interpretation and communication.
3) Question Time
If you want a peek into your co-workers’ personalities try this exercise. Just think of an interesting or silly question and have everyone in the room give his or her answer.
Some questions you could ask are:
- If you could have one super power what would it be and why?
- If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
- What was the first concert you ever attended?
4) Throw Your Troubles Away
Every office/department has its issues. Want a constructive way to deal with them? Have everyone write down a work issue that’s been bothering them. Then crumple the papers up and throw them into a big pile.
Break into small groups and have each group take a few pieces of the crumpled pile. Let them brainstorm solutions for a period of time, then come back together and share their solution with the entire group.
Not only do you get some free advice with this exercise, but it helps people work together and strengthens your team.
5) Salt And Pepper
This is a great icebreaker activity for even-numbered groups of all sizes. All you need is tape, a pen, small pieces of paper for each person and a list of well-known pairs, like salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, ying and yang, male and female, Bert and Ernie, cookies and milk, etc.
Take the well-known pairs and write each word on a separate piece of paper. Then tape a word on each person’s back – don’t let them see the word.
Once that’s done, have everyone mingle asking yes or no questions only to figure out the word taped on their backs. Once they’ve figured out their word, they need to find the other half of their pair. After they do, have them sit down and find three things they have in common or three interesting facts about each other.
This activity helps people get to know each other a little better while having some fun.
6) Paper Airplanes
Who hasn’t made a paper airplane at some point in time? Believe it or not you can do it as a team-building exercise.
All you need is a long hallway, tape, a measuring stick and card stock.
Break your group into teams and give each one a variety of directions on how to build paper airplanes. Together, each team decides how to construct the plane they think will fly the farthest. They can decorate their planes if the wish. When all teams have completed their planes it’s time to see whose plane flies the farthest.
Not only does this exercise teach teamwork, but it also helps you identify natural leaders in each group.
Want an activity that refreshes and energizes your staff, and is just fun? Try a quick game of concentration.
Arrange people in two equal lines facing each other. Choose one line to go first – for clarity purposes let’s call it line A. The people in line A have to study the people across from them in line B. Then line A turns around and faces away from line B.
Line B then has 40 seconds to change 10 things among themselves, like a different hair style, remove a tie, untuck a shirt, remove jewelry, swap clothes, etc. When the 40 seconds are up, line A turns back around and tries to find all the changes line B made. Once they find all the changes, it’s line B’s turn to guess.
8) Truth Or Lie
This game allows you to get to know your co-workers a little better.
Have each person in your group come up with two truths and one lie about themselves – make the lie realistic so it’s not obvious. Then go around the room and have each person read their statements out loud.
After the last person is done, have the group mingle for about 15 minutes trying to find out more about the statements and to convince each other they’re all true.
Once the 15 minutes are up everyone sits down, then one person stands and the group decides as a whole which statement is false.
It’s a fun way of getting to know your co-workers and promotes collaboration.
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Have you participated in any team-building activities you think are fun AND effective? If so, please share them in the comments box below.
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