teambuildingactivitiesideasWe’ve all been involved in a team building exercise at some point throughout our lives, whether it was in school, on a sports team, or in the office.  I’m sure we were also skeptical as to how effective they really are.  So the question is, did they really work or was it just a waste of time?  Simply put, it depends on what the activities consisted of and how they were carried out.  When they are implemented strategically and carefully, team building activities can make a world of difference for a team.  They can unite a group by building trust, boosting morale, improving communication and fixing weaknesses.  So if you are looking for team building activity ideas and exercises to use for your group, then look no further as you have just hit the jackpot!

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Focus On Activities That Actually Builds Teams

When planning a team-building exercise, the most important step starts at the very beginning.  Identify the problems that are currently challenging team.  Once this is determined, then you can move forward with choosing the type of exercises that will be the most effective.  So how do you identify these problems?

Take some time to think about the team’s strengths and weaknesses.  Start asking yourselves questions to identify the root of your problems.  For example:

Are there any conflicts between any individuals within the team?

Do some people need to learn how to work as a team instead of individually?

Are some team members working harder than others?

Do members of the group need a boost of morale?

Is there a lack of communication within the team?

Ask these types of questions and answer them together with the team.  Each member may have a different response, so it’s important that you all work in unison to find some common ground.

What To Avoid

There are productive team building activities, and there are ineffective ones as well.  Some companies will use sports as a way of team building, since it requires teamwork and most people enjoy it.  The problem with playing sports such as softball or basketball is it can be extremely competitive.  Using a competitive activity for team building can usually backfire, as some members in the group will only focus more on winning than using actual teamwork.  The skill level in a sport can vary greatly between team members also, which will probably un-motivate the people who are not as skilled.

Another thing to avoid is assuming that one or two team building activities a year is all you need to be effective.   When there’s rarely any regular training or follow-up, this can hold back the group’s long-term success.  Aim to incorporate these activities on a regular basis, either weekly or monthly.  This helps address different issues, and gives the team a chance to really build teamwork, and of course have some fun.

List Of Team Building Activities

There are all types of team building activities with different purposes.  You will notice that  they are broken down into three separate classes, although some activities might serve for more than one purpose.

Class I

These activities will work best at the first meeting, beginning of a gathering, or the start of a project.  Using little physical contact, this should help loosen up the team and familiarize one another  so there is no awkwardness moving forward.

Clap On

Have everyone stand in a circle.  One person has the “clap” in their hands and turns to face the person next to him.  Just when they make eye contact, they have to clap simultaneously. Then the next person has the clap and turns to pass it on.  After it has been passed around once and everyone is comfortable with the game, start timing them.  Encourage everyone to move around, jump into different parts of the circle, and reverse the rotation.

Move It!

Everyone stands in a circle with one person designated in the middle.  When the middle person says so, everyone will be given 30 seconds to memorize the first and last name of the person to their immediate left and right.  After the time is up, the person in the middle will point to a random person and say “left” or “right”.  If the person called upon stumbles or hesitates when saying the full name, he or she will go in the middle.  If people seem to know each others names right away, the person in the middle can shout “Move It!” and everyone has to rush to a new space and begin memorizing the names again.

Class II

When team members are starting to become more acquainted with one another, it’s time to move on to more contact-oriented games.  Implement these activities at the end of a meeting, or whenever you need to raise the energy level of the group.

Two Truths And A Lie

Go around the group and have everyone say two true statements and one lie about themselves.  The rest of the participants have to guess which of the three statements is the lie.  To make this easier, have them write down the statements on an index card.  This is a fun way of getting to know one another, and you may even be surprised what you learn about them!

Counting Off

Start by having everyone stand in a bunch or sit down on the ground.  The goal of this activity is to count to a number twice the number of the people in your group.  So if you have 10 people in your group, the goal is to count to 20.  Each person is only allowed to say two numbers during the entire game.  The other rule is only one person can say a n umber at a time.  If two people happen to say the same number, the group has to begin counting  all over.

Class III

These team building activities are most effective near the end of an outing, conference or among people that have spent a good amount of time together.  They will require more trust and participation than the prior games, so make sure everyone is responsive before proceeding.

Highs And Lows

Hand out pipe cleaners to each member and start off by doing the activity yourself.  Start by tying a knot on one end and saying when you were born, where and to whom.  Then go through your past by identifying the high and low points in your life, while moving the pipe cleaner to display the ups and downs.  If that is too personal, change the topic to something like describing your high school or college years.

The Human Knot

Make everyone stand in a circle and put their right hand into the middle.  Next, have them clasp hands with someone across the circle.  Then everyone puts their left hand into the middle of the circle and clasps the hand of a different person.  This will form a knot within the group.  Now, tell the group to untangle themselves from the knot without releasing anyone’s hand.  If someone accidentally lets go of a hand or if it’s too difficult to untangle, then start from the beginning and try again!

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