One of the best ways to encourage community and build morale is with team-building activities. These vary from quick and easy get-to-know you ice breakers when getting together for group meetings, to problem solving situations, to ongoing group projects designed to promote health and collaboration.
There are many details of the benefits of and types of team-building activities that a leader can incorporate into the workplace.
Here is a list to get you started so that your employees or group can begin communicating, bonding, and producing quality outcomes.
Icebreakers can truly affect the way a group bonds from the beginning. They help to break tension, make people laugh, and get things off to a good start.
- Two Truths and a Lie (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 15-30 minutes, low-level prep, small-medium team size, mid-level impact)
- This is a fairly common game that you may have played at retreats or camps growing up. Everyone takes a turn telling three facts about themselves. Two of these are true and one is made-up. Others guess which is the lie.
- This is a great way to get to know each other while having some fun. Some people do have trouble coming up with personal facts on the spot, though, so make sure to tell people that this will be the activity beforehand.
- Fortune Teller Game (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 15-30 minutes, low-level prep, small-medium team size, mid-level impact)
- Before the game, make a fortune teller that you hold with your fingers and can open two ways, with the flaps underneath. (If you don’t remember this from childhood, this will jog your memory.) Ask people to send in a few facts about themselves for you to write on the bottom flaps. Then when people choose a color, read the information and have people choose who they belong to.
- Activities that evoke nostalgia and childhood games bring joy and fun to the workplace. This is also a great get-to-know-you activity, and when people can learn more about each other, they will understand and work together more efficiently.
- Year of the Coin (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 15-30 minutes, low-level prep, small-medium team size, mid-level impact)
- Everyone has a bunch of random coins in their home that are between couch cushions, in the junk drawer, or at the bottom of a bag/purse. Have each participant gather their own coins if you are virtual, or bring some as the leader if you are in person. Take turns drawing a coin from the bowl and share an experience that you were doing during that year, or, if it is from before you were born, what you think a relative was doing during that year.
- A blast from the past is a fun way to connect. Even if your group didn’t know each other during the past, there are sure to be many things that people were doing similarly.
- Question Bowl (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 15-30 minutes, mid-level prep, small-medium team size, mid-level impact)
- The leader of the group will prepare for this game by writing down a variety of questions and placing them in a bowl. These can be personal information, fun would-you-rather ideas, favorites, anything! Each player gets a turn to answer a question. (If you are doing this virtually, you just pick for everyone.)
- People love to talk about themselves! It’s also fun to hear what others have in common with you. When people get to know each other on a more personal level, they are more likely to work together productively, trust each other, and communicate easily.
- Find the Commonality (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 15-30 minutes, mid-level prep, small-medium team size, mid-level impact)
- For this activity, provide the team with a list of names of everyone on the team. Then give them a time limit, and instruct them to find something they have in common with each other person. However, you have to find a different commonality for each relationship.
- This is best used in person, but could be used with breakout rooms in a group video session. Many people will be surprised at the obscure things they have in common with others when they need to be creative, and this will help them to bond outside of their required work projects.
- Not Speed Dating, but Networking! (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 15-30 minutes, mid-level prep, small-medium team size, mid-level impact)
- This is best done in person, but could be done with breakout rooms as well. Assign everyone a partner, then give them a question to answer with each other. After two minutes, partners will switch and answer new questions.
- The more people get to know one another, the more connections they will feel, which will increase productivity in the workplace and promote employee or group member trust.
Motivating Team-Building Exercises
There’s no better way to get a team working together than by, well, having them work together! These team-building exercises will help groups find commonalities, encourage one another, or get the energy pumping.
- Hot Chair (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 30-60 minutes, low-level prep, small-medium team size, high-level impact)
- One person chooses/asks a question and then calls on another group member to answer it. That person has five seconds (or a predetermined time-frame) to answer the question, state another, and call on the next person. Questions should be easy to answer without much thought.
- This game can be done quickly and is fun for people when they feel like they should be able to answer a question quickly but the pressure makes it hard.
- What Is Your Favorite? (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 30-60 minutes, low-level prep, small team size, high-level impact)
- This team-building activity is not as competitive, but it prompts excitement when people have the same answers as each other. Give each team a list of things that they could list as a favorite (e.g., scary movies, holidays, sports teams). Have them write them down and then compare, and see how many they can get the same in each category.
- People enjoy knowing that they have things in common with others whom they have to spend time with. This also humanizes others in a group, and when we see others as individuals it helps us to respect and honor them more as we work together.
- Pump Up The Team (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 15-30 minutes, low-level prep, large team size, high-level impact)
- Team members are asked to think about and identify one feeling they are currently having. This could be feeling tired, frustrated, anxious, hungry, sleepy, restless, etc. The first person says, “I am (states feeling) and I am IN!” Then it goes to the next person and the next. Each person should be louder than the last, and the energy keeps getting higher!
- We don’t often get to see how people are feeling on the inside (unless body language is obvious), so asking a team to state something that doesn’t come across on their faces might help others realize that everyone comes into meetings and workdays with emotional loads, which can help people be compassionate.
- How Well Do You Know Each Other? (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 30-60 minutes, mid-level prep, small-medium team size, high-level impact)
- This is a great team-building activity if you have regular meetings. At the end of each meeting, give the group a question and request that they answer it on a slip before leaving, or send it in to you later that day. Before the next meeting, prepare a slide with everyone’s answers, but without names. Then at the beginning of the next gathering, everyone has to guess who answered what.
- Activities like this are sure to bring some silly laughter as people attribute answers to those who they don’t belong to. At the same time, everyone can see that many people will answer the same as they did, bringing an element of common interests to the group.
- Open Mic Day (Breakdown: Group video or in person, 30-60 minutes, mid-level prep, small-medium team size, high-level impact)
- Brief the team as a whole and then assign each member a specific day where they will present. At the beginning of the meeting, whoever’s turn it is will get the chance to use their time to do whatever they want, for example, show a magic trick, introduce their pets, give a quick cooking lesson, tell jokes, whatever they want!
- This is a fun way for everyone to get to know each other and realize that we all have hidden talents or hobbies that do not often have the opportunity to get showcased at work. It also starts meetings off with something for everyone to look forward to, just like when we would do show-and-tell in school as kids!
Benefits of Team-Building Activities
When you have a large group of people working together, sometimes conflicts can arise, people would rather work independently, or there is a lack of communication that decreases work productivity.
When team-building activities are incorporated into the culture of the workspace, members build respect, trust, and confidence in each other. This makes every project easier and more fruitful.