How often do we talk about how organizational culture is one of the top factors associated with employee happiness?
And yet despite this, many companies continually fail to see the value in building bridges between their team members, department and entire company.
What is Team Building?
The term team building has become something of a buzzword in recent years. Certainly, in the context of corporate development, team-building exercises are important not so much for the immediate experience of the activities themselves but rather for the interpersonal skills, communication and morale they beget and nurture.
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So why is team building so crucial in today’s business world?
Team building enhances social relations between perhaps otherwise disparate groups of people within your company. Team-building activities often incorporate collaborative tasks to better define roles and identify skillsets. Team building is distinct from team training insofar as the latter is designed to improve efficiency per se, not improve team dynamics.
Team building is a means to an end; it is, ultimately, a high-impact learning experience. Team-building programs provide realistic, memorable experiences that empower individuals to contribute to common goals. The success of an organization will inevitably depend on the ability of employees to build effective, impactful, efficient teams.
Over time, team-building activities should improve performance in team-based environments. The concept in general can be considered one of the foundations of organizational development, and its core principles are universal.
- Aligning team goals
- Alleviating interpersonal tensions between workers
- Reducing team members’ role ambiguity
- Building effective, productive, symbiotic working relationships
12 Team-building Activities Perfect for Your Company
Team building can range from quick in-office activities to complex day-long courses, and the particular skills they hone vary widely. Here are 12 that can hugely benefit both your business and your workers.
1) Blind drawing
Time: 10–15 minutes
Participants: 2 or more
Tools: Picture, pen, paper
Rules: Divide everyone into pairs. Individuals sit back to back with their partners. One person has the pen and paper, the other has the picture. The first person must draw what they believe their partner is describing from the picture. The second person cannot be too specific with their descriptions. Repeat the exercise several times, alternating who is describing and who is drawing.
Objective: This activity focuses on interpretation and communication. Once the drawing is complete, it’s fascinating — and often hilarious! — to see one person’s (sometimes wildly inaccurate) interpretation of their partner’s words.
2) This is better than that
Time: 15–20 minutes
Tools: 4 or more random objects
Rules: Pick 4 or more different objects. Split participants into teams. Describe a scenario in which every team has to collectively solve the hypothetical problem posed by the scenario using only the objects in front of them. Whether it’s “You’ve got just 5 minutes to put on a play using only these objects” or “You’ve got to blockade the door to stop the zombie horde getting in!”, every team must rank their objects based on their usefulness in said scenario and explain their reasoning.
Objective: This activity inspires team creativity in problem solving. Don’t make the scenarios too easy, as the game is most effective when individuals are forced to think outside the box.
3) Human knot
Time: 15–30 minutes
Rules: This activity is one of the best known in the realm of team building because it’s both extremely straightforward and highly entertaining! Everyone stands in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. They outstretch their right hands and grab a random hand. They then outstretch their left hands and grab a random left hand. Within a set time limit, everyone must then untangle themselves from the knot of arms without releasing their hands. If the group is too large, make multiple smaller circles and have the groups compete.
Objective: This team-building game relies heavily on solid teamwork and excellent communication. It also results in some amusing anecdotes for the water cooler.
4) Perfect square
Time: 15–30 minutes
Tools: Long piece of rope tied together and a blindfold per person
Rules: Everyone stands in a circle holding the rope. They then put on their blindfolds and set the rope down on the floor. They walk a short distance from the rope, then must attempt to reconfigure themselves into a square around the rope. Set a time limit to make things more competitive. To add in even more jeopardy, instruct some individuals to remain silent!
Objective: This activity focuses on strong leadership and good communication. The game also entails trust when you instruct some people to remain silent because team members must guide others.
5) Purpose mingle
Time: 1–2 minutes
Rules: This activity is perfect as a quick indoor team-building game that takes very little time. It’s especially effective to organize just prior to a meeting. Individuals walk around sharing what they intend to contribute to the meeting with as many others as possible. The winner is the person who shared the most. You can offer a fun, inexpensive prize to enhance the fun.
Objective: This activity is fantastic at increasing the productivity of a meeting. It gets attendees thinking about what they intend to contribute as opposed to sitting back passively unsure of what to say.
6) Scavenger hunt
Time: Up to 1 hour
Participants: 2 or more small groups
Tools: Pen and paper
Rules: Divide the team into teams of 2 or more. List some goofy tasks for each group to perform, such as taking a selfie with a stranger or taking a photo of a building or very specific object located somewhere in the office. Give the list to each team and set a deadline by which they must have completed all the tasks.
Objective: This is brilliant for encouraging team bonding. It helps diffuse office cliques by getting people to speak to those with whom they are less acquainted.
Time: 15–30 minutes
Participants: 4, 6, 8 or 10
Tools: A number of handheld objects and blindfolds
Rules: Find an open space, such as a park or parking lot. Place the objects, be they cones, bottles or balls, sporadically across the space. Everyone pairs up. One member of the pair is blindfolded. The other must lead their teammate from one side to the other without stepping on the objects — using only verbal instructions! To make it even tougher, implement a specific route that the blindfolded team members must walk.
Objective: This team-building game entails communication, trust and effective listening.
Time: 5 minutes
Participants: 1 or more small groups
Tools: Random objects
Rules: This game is another quick and fun activity. Each person takes one object. In turn, someone goes to the front of the group to demonstrate a use for that object. The rest of the team must guess what is being demonstrated. The demonstrator, of course, cannot speak, and demonstrations should aim to be original — and perhaps a little wacky, too!
Objective: This team-building game is short and snappy and inspires creativity and innovation.
Time: 5 minutes
Participants: 2 or more people
Rules: Partner A shares something negative that has happened to them with their partner. Partner B then turns it around, retelling the story but focusing only on the positive aspects. Partner B encourages partner A to explore the silver lining. Then they switch.
Objective: This activity encourages team bonding and helps individuals think about how to reframe negative situations and use them as learning experiences together.
10) Egg drop
Time: 1–2 hours
Participants: 2 or more small groups
Tools: Assorted office supplies
Rules: People split into groups of 3–5. Every group receives an egg. Put the office supplies in a pile. Everyone has 15–30 minutes to build a contraption around the egg that will keep the egg from smashing upon being dropped. Suggestions for objects include straws, plastic utensils, pencils, tape, newspapers, packing materials and rubber bands. Once time is up, the groups take in turn to drop their contraption containing their egg from 2 or 3 stories up to see which — if any! — survives.
Objective: This one is a classic team-building game. It is engaging, fun and inspires teamwork and problem solving. The more people involved, the better! Ensure you have enough eggs, though, in case some break during the construction process!
11) Barter puzzle
Time: 1–2 hours
Participants: 4 or more small groups
Tools: Different jigsaw puzzles for each group
Rules: Everyone breaks into small groups and receives a different jigsaw puzzle, all of them of equal difficulty. The goal is to complete the puzzle the fastest. However… some pieces will be mixed around in other groups’ puzzles, so it’s up to the team to think of a way of bartering for those pieces back. It could be negotiating, exchanging team members or trading. Whatever they decide to do, they decide as a group.
Objective: This activity relies on problem-solving skills and strong leadership. Some people might stand back, but it’s important to remember that every individual must come to a consensus before any decision is made.
12) Truth or lie
Time: 10–15 minutes
Participants: 5 or more people
Rules: Everyone sits in a circle and comes up with 2 obscure, unlikely facts about themselves and one similarly unbelievable lie. Go around the circle and have every individual state their truths and lie in random order. After each person shares, everyone guesses which is the lie.
Objective: This is a great ice breaker, especially for individuals who are unfamiliar with one another. It helps eliminate snap judgments of coworkers and gives introverts an equal chance to share.
How Effective is Team Building?
The impact of team building is contingent upon how well it is implemented. The best team-building activities are those between teams who are interdependent, experienced and knowledgeable, especially when an organizational leadership figure establishes and supports the group.
Great team building engenders high morale and gets people thinking about team goals. Team building has been strongly associated with increased task accomplishment and objective performance, as well as employee satisfaction and subjective supervisor ratings. Moreover, high-quality team-building activities have positive effects on cognitive, affective, process and performance outcomes, remedying issues such as lack of cohesion and trust.
Team Building is Integral to Team Bonding
Team building is designed to boost morale, improve productivity and enhance interpersonal relations across the entire company. Taking employees out of their ordinary routines and social circles break down political and personal barriers, eliminates distractions and encourages a spirit of camaraderie. The benefits of team building are so significant that many corporations have incorporated team-building strategies into their standard training curricula. However, many remain conservative and refuse to accept the increasingly blatant evidence of the benefits of team building.
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