Whether you are in a business or classroom setting, there is one fact you can not escape: the people around you are going to be a big part of your day. Depending on the personalities present in the room, that may sometimes be a challenge for all involved. One way to get around this, and therefore manage potential conflicts before they start, is to plan and encourage team building activities. These do not necessarily need to be expensive, outdoor excursions. A lot of teamwork and friendship can be fostered by using a few simple activities.
For the most part, people are motivated by simple concepts – the need to feel appreciated, the ability to have creative license, pride in their work, and being given the opportunity to lead others. When these needs are not being met (and remember that much of modern day business and classroom culture do NOT meet these needs day to day), you have a group of people who are far too frustrated with the situation to consider interacting with others. That is why team building is so important. By creating environments where you can let your employees or students rise to the occasion, and show their talents organically, you have also created an environment wherein they are far more likely to work together. Let’s take a look at a few activities to get you thinking.
Problem Solving Activities
These activities promote a sense of community by crowdsourcing ideas from everyone involved. The team will be faced with a problem, and they will have to work together within a time limit to solve it. When the time limit is up, the team will present their solution together, and a judge will decide if their solution was effective.
The Egg Drop
Chances are, you have done this one in high school, but it is so approachable, and so inexpensive that it will work almost anywhere, in any situation. The problem each team is presented with is that an egg they were given will be dropped out of a window in one hour. It is on them to come up with a means of protecting that egg so that it survives the fall unbroken.
Give employees or students access to office supplies to help them create their egg-saving contraption. Bubble wrap is always a favorite, but encourage them to think outside the box too. Meaning yes, they can use the kitchen to hard boil that egg if they think it will help, and yes, trash bags can be re purposed into parachutes.
The Human Knot
This one is especially good as both an ice breaker, and a problem solver. Best of all, the cost to arrange this activity is zero! Ask a group of six to eight people to stand in a circle facing each other. Ask them all to raise their right hands, and to reach across the circle to join hands with anyone they’d like. Repeat this step with the left hand until everyone has joined hands in a huge tangle.
The trick now is to have them untangle themselves without letting go. (They can loosen their grip as needed to maneuver, but should maintain contact.) Give them a time limit (5 minutes might be good), and encourage them to speak, shout and gesture encouragement to one another in order to solve the problem.
Emphasis on “friendly” here. These activities will foster a sense of creativity while still having a clear objective in mind. Separate your group into teams and elect someone (or a few people) to act as the judge. A time limit can be given, but some of these activities may take a bit longer than others.
Plan a Breakfast
Here’s one with a twist. You are assigning each team to plan a breakfast – but for the other team. Whichever team plans the better breakfast (as chosen by judges) will be the winner. You can allow them a small budget, or ask them to get creative by cooking, or exchanging food for advertising with local caterers. The teams should be judged not only on the food, but on the decor, and the manner in which the breakfast was presented Are they all dressed as butlers? Did they set the tables creatively?, etc.
This one is especially good for team building because even though there is a competition involved, the “losing team” still got the better breakfast.
This one is a two-part competition. Teams of four should be assembled, and each one is given a wagon to work with. The first part of their assignment is to come up with a name and a decoration theme for their “chariot”. Give them a time limit of 60 minutes or so, and then have them parade their creations before the judges. Points should be awarded for style and cleverness.
The second part is the “race” One team member will sit in the wagon while the other three will pull them through a short obstacle course. Points should be awarded based on whether or not the chariot remained upright, how well obstacles were avoided, and time to complete the course. This way, the teams who did not win the style award may still win the race.
One final type of team building activity is that of immersing your team into a fictional situation. They will have to behave and act as though they are really there, and use teamwork to make it through the scenario.
Zombies Vs. Humans
This is basically a game of capture the flag, but with a little more makeup. Teams should be divided into “zombies” and “humans” and they will have to guard their team’s flag. While the “zombies” are not permitted to run, they can “turn” humans by making contact with them. This then becomes a game of speed vs. numbers, and the teams will need to decide which strategy is best.
Udemy has many great classes to help you with team building. Check out “4 Simple Leadership Tools” for starters.