There’s the classic saying, “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’” and for teams that want to be successful, that should be true. Everyone has different personalities and work styles, so it’s inevitable that people who work together will clash at some point. When we spend eight or more hours around the same individuals each day—even if we are accomplishing great things—we’re bound to frustrate and irritate one another from time to time. We’ve all been there.
Everyone wants their team to be a well-oiled machine, but creating or maintaining a healthy environment where all members of the team feel unified takes effort and forethought. Here are seven quick and easy team-building activities that are sure to bring your team members closer—and ultimately improve your team’s performance with these leadership training activities.
1) Back-to-Back Drawing. This is an easy classic that can be used to help teams identify, demonstrate, and develop a variety of skills gaps that may make team unity and trust hard to develop: communication, delegation, leadership, and listening to name a few. To perform this exercise, have pairs of people sit back-to-back. Give one person a picture of a random shape or diagram, and hand the other person a blank piece of paper and a pen. Ask the person with the picture to describe what it is (e.g. on the left side of the paper, draw a straight line and on the right side draw a circle, etc.) while the other person draws what they think is being described.
2) Volunteering. Volunteering as a team activity strengthens a team’s unity immensely. There are a variety of opportunities to choose from: food banks, hospitals, shelters, neighborhood gardens and clean up, just to name a few. As team members work together to support the community, co-workers bond, build team spirit, and develop leadership skills. Plus, it always feels good to help other people!
3) Two Truths and a Lie. This is another great icebreaker activity for team development. Have every member of your team disclose two things about themselves that are true and one thing that’s a lie. The statements can be simple items such as hobbies, past experiences, or interests that make each person unique. The lie can be something outrageous, or it can sound like a truth to make it harder for the other participants. After each person shares their two truths and a lie, the rest of the group discusses and decides together which statement is the lie. You may choose to keep track of how many lies the group correctly identified. This activity requires that participants listen carefully and helps improve communication; it also lets everybody get to know each other a little better.
4) Paintball. Any competitive sports activity will do, but paintball is an ideal experience that allows your team members to utilize and develop key skills they use in the workplace every day. For example, team members must work together to solve problems, make decisions, and achieve desired outcomes. Although some may be hesitant to try this, it is a great activity to encourage group interaction, increase morale, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and promote team spirit. Another bonus is that physical activity is good for health and motivation. It can also increase your state of happiness.
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5) Survival. This activity takes some imagination. You give your team the scenario that they were in a plane crash and landed in the ocean. There’s a lifeboat that they can take to a deserted island, but they can only take 12 items with them on the boat. As a group, they must decide which items to bring along. This exercise encourages team members to work collaboratively, helps them improve their negotiation skills, and teaches them to compromise. Contact CMOE to learn more about how you can access our “survival” simulation in your next teamwork development program.
6) Picture Puzzle Game. Start by taking a picture of something well known and cut the photo into puzzle pieces. Give each member of the team one of those pieces and tell him or her to recreate the piece five times bigger than the original size. You will need resources such as large, flip chart sized paper, crayons, scissors, and any other creative elements. When everyone has finished, have them put all the pieces back together. This activity teaches team members that the work they do has a direct impact on the work of others and demonstrates that everyone must work together to achieve the “bigger picture” and reach the team’s goals.
7) The Big Drop. This activity can get a bit messy, but it gets results. Split your team into two groups. Each group must design and create protective packaging that will prevent an egg from cracking when dropped from 8-10 feet above the ground (although there is no height limit). Have each group drop its package with the egg inside it to see if it works. You can turn this into a simulation where customer requirements must be met for the protective packaging. Requirements may be around quality level, capacity, innovation, or appearance. The team that earns the most points during the simulation wins the customer contract. This teaches group members to work together by giving them a common goal and target for the team’s success. It fosters collaboration, creativity, and a focus on the customer.
Whichever type of activity you choose, great team building experiences give participants a chance to step outside of the workplace and witness team dynamics in a new way. This perspective can enhance team member commitment to working toward common team goals, increase understanding and connections, and ultimately, improve engagement and productivity back at work. If you are looking for additional team building activities or a skilled facilitator to lead an event, please contact us to learn more about our library of exercise, activities and simulations to bring teams together.