Top 10 team building activities
As teams settle into new patterns of hybrid working it’s time to rebuild connections with some carefully chosen morale-boosting activities.
Why is team building important?
The workplace revolution prompted by the pandemic has been a boon in terms of work-life balance and flexibility. But the downside is that team members who previously spent most of the working week together may feel disconnected and remote. Well-planned, well-organized activities can reignite team spirit, increasing engagement, raising morale and even boosting productivity and the bottom line.
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Successful activity will:
Encourage everyone to contribute
According to research by Salesforce, people are 4.6 times more likely to feel engaged when they feel heard. Encouraging your employees to contribute during team building activities will help to boost engagement.
Encourage a team mentality
Linking like-minded people, teams working on specific projects or people who share hobbies, skills or specialisms will foster new relationships and encourage open-mindedness.
Uncover new leadership opportunities
Encouraging people to put their leadership skills and ambitions to work in games and social activities helps break down barriers. This way, everyone can feel confident in leading or contributing without fear of criticism.
Team building activities show the power of collaborative working and bring people with diverse backgrounds, skills and experiences together to meet shared goals.
Creating connections between individuals and teams to achieve activity goals boosts solidarity between colleagues and gives the chance to celebrate joint achievements.
Planning team building activities
A great team building activity doesn’t happen by chance. To maximize your team-building ROI and make sure activities are as effective as possible, strategy is key. As well as planning what to do and how to present the activity to your team, it’s also essential to make sure that it’s right for every participant, is confidently run and that everyone can contribute and benefit from the experience. Here are a few tips:
Decide on the purpose of the activity – what do you want to achieve?
Team building activities can serve specific or multiple purposes. Think about what you want the results to be. Do people need to get to know each other better, feel more confident, communicate more effectively, work together more efficiently? Do you have new recruits you need to integrate into the team? Do you want the activity to address resistance to change? Are there conflicts within the team you want to resolve?
Knowing the outcomes you want will help you choose the right activity.
Plan well in advance
Letting everyone know what’s happening and why, and getting their responses and commitment needs to be done well ahead of time. Effective activities may involve planning and design, connecting with a specialist program provider or event planner, hiring a space or collecting props or equipment.
Create the right activity for each group
Tailor the exercise to the people taking part and your overall goals, and make clear why you’re choosing specific activities for particular groups.
Don’t leave anyone out
Schedule activity so everyone can take part, reassure anyone who’s reluctant, and make participation accessible to people who may be excluded by lack of experience or technology.
Make sure everyone knows when and how the activity is happening
Use registration or sign-up tools to keep everyone in the loop and build excitement.
Make sure all team members are fully prepared
List any equipment people will need, like paper, pens or comfortable clothes, and make sure participants block out uninterrupted time for the activity.
Make instructions and parameters clear
Circulate any game rules or judging criteria and make clear how results will be assessed and made available. If you’re doing a virtual team building activity, make sure everyone has a chance to speak.
Ensure equality and diversity
Mix teams between job levels, new and longer-term employees and differently gendered and abled participants.
Don’t bring corporate issues into the activity
If the exercise is designed solely for team building, resist the temptation to bring everything back to business goals and aims of the organization. This can always be done later as a follow-up activity.
10 fun team building activities to keep everyone engaged
Escape rooms are great for boosting collaboration, communication, decision making and problem solving. Scenarios vary enormously, and you can select levels of difficulty to suit your goals and the participants. Escape rooms can also be useful for rehearsing responses to stressful or potentially high-risk situations – but it’s also important to get the balance right between entertainment and enjoyment and your professional goals.
4 facts and a lie
A classic getting-to-know-you game. Each team member submits four things about themselves which are true and one which isn’t. Team-mates discuss and vote on which is the lie.
Each team member is assigned 2 or 3 random letters and must contribute these to the other members of their team to make as many words of 3 letters or more as possible in a specified time.
Create a template with – say – 12 statements or categories, each one relating to one of the players, and distribute it to everyone. A player has to find out from co-workers which statement applies to them. When they do, they mark the board with an X. The winner is the first player who completes the board.
A sure-fire way to encourage cooperation. Create a list of items for teams of players to find in the workplace or activity venue or location. The first team to check everything off the list is the winner.
Lost at sea
Creative activities can be organized for individuals or groups to encourage confidence and collaboration. Look for things that don’t require huge amounts of expertise – think mug painting, cookery or flash fiction writing. Or you could try more physical activities like Tai Chi and line dancing.
Split people into teams of two and have them sit back-to-back. In this game, one person will be the listener, and the other one the speaker. The speaker has a picture, while the listener has a piece of paper and a pen. The speaker describes the picture without using words that give away exactly what it is. The listener tries to draw that picture with the clues given.
The barter puzzle
Split into groups with an equal number of members. Each team gets a different, but equally difficult, jigsaw puzzle, which they have to complete within a set amount of time. The goal for each team is to finish their puzzle before the other groups.
The trick is that some of the pieces from one team’s puzzle will be in another team’s pile. Players must convince the other teams to give them the missing pieces – either through barter, negotiation, exchange of team members, donating time to another team, etc.
The group stands in a straight line, side-by-side. The goal is for the players to organize themselves in order of birthdays (month and day) without any talking. If they do start to talk, they need to start from the beginning. If you want to add an extra challenge, try blindfolding a couple of participants.
Team building for virtual teams
Team building can be super-effective for virtual teams – according to a Gallup survey, virtual team building activities enhance employees’ performance and lead to 42% lower absenteeism with 21% higher profitability. And other research has shown that virtual teams can surpass in-person teams if they receive enough support, communication – and virtual team building.
But organizations may need to make a bit more effort to bring people together and build team spirit when most people are working remotely.
Many tried and trusted team building activities can be adapted or work well in virtual environments. More ways to bring virtual employees together include:
Leagues, like music playlists, competitions and book clubs, where all members are asked to contribute their favorites and have discussions about them.
Regular show and tell: once a week or once a month, everyone shares something about themselves – something they enjoy doing, or something they’ve seen or experienced which impressed them.
Chat/tea break time: unstructured online sessions where everyone can bring a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit and have a catch-up.
Regular contributions on a theme – where team members can share pics, events, opinions, or their favorite things.
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