The journey of creating and sustaining a team of enthusiastic and productive workers is much like the pursuit of a good marriage. The process of bringing people together, feeling the sparks of connection, cultivating similarities, and working at keeping the partnership going, is an art, and a challenging process at that.
However, building those bonds of steel can be easily fulfilled and continually nurtured. All it takes are 4 key ingredients, all mixed up in a melting pot of regular activities and exercises.
In this post we break it down, and then look at practical team building exercises that will, not only blow your employees minds, but make those links in the team chain that much stronger.
No matter your staff’s designated role and job title, there always comes a time when they need to pull out that old versatility hat. And, what can make it easier for them is by joining forces with their fellow colleagues. Someone needs to take on the leadership hat and run with it. Someone needs to come up with a plan of action. Someone needs to adapt to the situation and focus on the solution to the problem. Sometimes that requires taking on a role that is not normally in their character, and is generally out of their comfort zone.
This exercise will help your staff problem solve, but also learn to adapt to the situation.
An Exercise Example: Lie to Me
- Small pieces of paper and pens
What to do:
- Each team player writes down 2 truths and 1 lie on 3 slips of paper, letting no one see
- Then the group must converse with each, as if at a cocktail party, finding out what they can about the others
- The idea behind this game is to convince the others that your lie is a truth and visa versa
- Then, at the end of a period, say 10-15 minutes, the truths and lies are read out, and the group, as a whole, must vote as to which was false or true
While, this game is not to encourage lying, per say, it helps others to be convincing, and the game assists in employees getting to know about one another, creating bonds. They need to step out of their comfort zone, explore another side to themselves, as that is often required in relationships, and when dealing with clients.
Trust, no matter the relationship, is important when it comes to the growth and building of that relationship. People in a work team may never have done anything to abuse trust, and you could possibly have people on a team who don’t know each other very well, or in fact don’t trust people in general. Trust in the workplace does come from a constant close working proximity. And we don’t mean sitting on the other side of a shared desk, we mean working head to head over a project, talking, discussing, and having a mutual goal in mind.
This exercise here is a classic trust tester:
An Exercise Example: Take my Hand
- A big open space, outside, such as a parking lot, or a big hall inside
- Handheld objects, such as cones, bottles, plastic items
- Blind folds
- About 10 people – must be an even number
What to do:
- Teams of 2 are formed, and one puts on a blind fold
- Objects are placed randomly around the area
- Non-blindfolded team mate must direct their partner around the objects with verbal instructions only
- The blindfolded person may not talk
- A set out specific route with an ending always makes it that much harder
- The winning team is the team that gets to the end or through the objects without hitting them
Making decisions can sometimes be very trying. One worries that the outcome of the decision could be to the detriment of project goals or worse yet, cause the loss of a client. But, at some point, staff must learn to make decisions on their own.
This exercise helps the participants to make tactical decisions, based on all the factors presented to them:
An Exercise Example: Map it Out
- Maps of a town, country or any area (each team receives the same map)
What to do:
- Teams of 4 must plan out a vacation using the map
- They receive a specified budget
- And, they must plan it out in 30 minutes
- A team that uses up all their money before the end is reached is disqualified
- The team that does the most in that time and remaining in budget, is the winner
The idea is for the team players to work together, to plan together, and to communicate well, using aspects like fuel, hotels, food stops, and any other parameters.
It will come out, in the end, who is good at making decisions and planning very quickly, where each of their strengths lie, and who rises up as the leader.
Communicating effectively with your employees, as well as teaching them to communicate with each other, is vital to a sound and productive relationship. There are many ways in which to train the brain on how to best get your message across.
An Exercise Example: Remember Me
- Teams of 4 or more
- Children’s wooden building blocks
- A keen memory
What to do:
- The facilitator of the game builds a structure with the blocks – the more complicated the better
- The structure is placed away from the teams, behind a wall or divider, so no one can see it
- One team member from each group goes to the structure and has 10 seconds to memorise the format
- He/she goes back to their group and must communicate what they saw with the other members, rebuilding it with their own set of blocks
- Each member of the team gets their own 10 seconds, where they can go have a look at the structure to copy
- The winner of the game is the team that builds their structure exactly or as close to that of the original
This game teaches team players to communicate what is in their minds, and to solve issues together.
There are many simpler, as well as more complex activities and games, one can put together for your teams. You could go as far as to play a game every Friday, in your downtime, and casual moments. It will boost them through the weekend, and prepare them to have a great time in the next week.
Team building games are wonderful to use as ice breakers and activations at your team conferences. The sky is really the limit when it comes to engaging with your staff, and getting the people that essentially run your business, to connect with each other.
“Coming together is a beginning
Staying together is progress
And Working together is success.” Henry Ford