Simon says “It is Time for Team building activities” Let me ask you, Does this ever happen to you? You research and try to find fun activities, and you prepare for them. But when you actually play, you realize it was “way more fun in your head.” Well, you are not alone! Finding fun and productive team-building activities is a task. However, we will try to be the one-stop answer to all your problems. Let us discuss Team Building 101.
What are Team-building activities?
Team building is defined as activities designed to strengthen bonds, improve communication, foster cooperation, and boost morale among members of a group or team. These activities are often used in workplaces, schools, sports teams, and various other settings to enhance teamwork and create a positive and productive environment.
The choice of team-building activities depends on the team’s goals, preferences, and dynamics within the group. These activities should be engaging, inclusive, and tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the team. With planning and effective execution, team-building activities can significantly positively impact team performance and cohesion.
How do Team-building activities increase productivity?
Remember when we were children and how we used to play so many different sorts of games? Numerous activities helped us learn important concepts such as winning-losing, trust, negotiation, and various other soft skills. Games like Monopoly, Tag, Hide and Seek, Hopscotch, Blind Man Buff, and many more. Soft skills aren’t naturally present in humans at birth. We develop them along the way. Yes, some of us might be better with certain soft skills depending on our personalities. But if it’s a skill, it can be developed, it can be learned and mastered.
However, learning something in an activity and applying it to real life requires some conditioning. This is where the role of the leader comes in to help their team end the activities with key takeaways. Never end a fun activity without a group discussion. That’s your one opportunity to help the learnings seep into conscious awareness. There is always something to learn from them and discussions can be fun too. We make it fun in our own ways.
But why is Team Building Important?
There is a quote that says:
If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go with your team.
Since the dawn of humanity, human groups, and civilizations worked together to build entire societies. We live today as we do as a result of so much development and team effort. No doubt there have been individuals who have made significant contributions, but this world functions on teams. Social psychologists say being a part of a group decreases your chances of dying within a year by half. Those are some pretty awesome statistics I’d say. Teams can shake the world up and down.
Separated we are weak but Together we can do great things. – Mother Teresa
Building great teams is a lot of effort, it is a difficult task. Even if you bring the best talent from all over the world, into the wrong environment they wouldn’t be able to perform. However, there are two secret words that we will let you in on that can help you build great teams: Growth and Culture.
A growing team is one that is always learning, improving, and upgrading itself. Also According to a survey, 94 percent of workers who leave their jobs think they would have stayed if their employer had invested more in employee education. For retaining the best talent in the market you must invest in employee education!
The second is Culture and that will require an entirely separate blog on it. But to sum it up Culture is the environment that grooms and shapes. It will make or break your team.
Important Concepts before we dive in:
Team Building and Leadership
Team building is the constant effort to enhance the relationships between employees to help them collaborate in the most effective way possible. Team leaders play a key role in this. Essentially, leaders are responsible for taking individual employees and bringing them together as an integrated winning team. The role of the leader is the most important. “There is no wolf without the pack and no pack without the wolf.”
Team building and Team Bonding
Team Building refers to any effort towards making your team perform more effectively, with the PRODUCTIVITY of the team as the main focus. Team Building activities generally involve participants working together as a team to achieve a particular objective or to solve a problem. Team Building activities are great for developing your team’s agility, and for enhancing the sense of synergy in working together which may go unnoticed on a daily basis, but is so important for an effective team.
Where Team Building focuses on a team’s collective productivity, the concept of Team Bonding primarily focuses on strengthening the RELATIONSHIPS within a team. A Team Building activity could very well achieve elements of Team Bonding as well, but a Team Bonding activity may not necessarily achieve the results intended for a Team Building activity.
You must’ve read about the 4 types of team building or the 4 C’s of team building, but let’s not stick to the generic. You can read this article to know more about the above but read further to learn the most condensed and practical activities for Team building. These are arranged in the table below under different sections based on the main objective you desire from the activity. Goal setting, Communication, Time Management, Trust within the team, and lastly some culture-building activities as well
Table of content:
It’s a fact that organizations in which the team puts the organization’s goals ahead of their own individual goals grow 10x faster than the rest.
This is one of the MOST important team-building activities that most leaders never find out about. Why do you think is goal setting important? The company has certain goals but why should the team care?
Someone wise once said:
The best way to predict the future is to create it together. – Joe Echevarria
Today if you visit any multinational company and ask any employee what their goal is, the goals of the organization are aligned with those of the employees. Everyone has a role to play and contributes to that goal. When the company grows, the team grows with it, of course! It’s all part of a culture called growth culture.
The team feels a sense of responsibility towards that goal, and here are some activities that you can take to get your team aligned with the team’s goals.
Goal mapping is a workshop activity where participants begin with a large objective and gradually scale it down. First, employees will determine the vision and expected outcomes. Then, participants identify the milestones they will need to accomplish to reach the finish line.
Make sure your team is not only talking logically while creating goals for the larger picture. Humans are emotional beings, and all of our ideas and motivations stem from this emotional realm. Therefore, the goal-setting session should address both the rational and emotional reasons for desiring to accomplish the objectives. The session should also cover what succeeding would mean.
2) Making Vision Boards
- Reflect on your goals: The first step in making a vision board is to engage in reflective exercises to discover the team’s aspirations.
- Make a list of key concepts: After you’ve completed some reflection exercises, you can choose a few key goals to focus on in your vision board.
- Find relevant images: A key strength of a vision board is the visual way it represents goals and dreams. For each concept on your board, find images that invoke the same feelings and thoughts that the concept does. These images can come from magazines, books, newspapers, or the internet.
- Create a collage: Next, take all the images and arrange them on a board. You might use a piece of poster board, cardboard, or wood for the vision board.
- Display the team’s vision board: Once the board is complete, you can display it in a place where the team can easily see it.
3) Solving a Puzzle without any clue as to how it looks ( Beginning with the end in mind)
Divide teams and provide jigsaw puzzles to each team. Allow some teams to see the anticipated image on the puzzle box while requiring the other teams to finish their puzzles without using the expected image as a guide. Once all teams have finished putting their puzzles together, consider how long it took them, how challenging it was, and why. Your team members will probably observe that knowing the intended outcome of the puzzle makes it simpler for them to put the pieces together. Same way, focusing on the scope of your mission will enhance productivity.
4) The Ideal day
The ideal day is one of the most effective goal-setting activities for adults. With this exercise, you can get participants thinking about the regular tasks and objectives they need to complete. In addition, it is possible to discover the difficulties that are stopping participants from attaining their larger objectives and results by asking them to envision an ideal day.
By discovering these issues, the participants can take steps to delegate or devise solutions by creating a method that addresses the underlying causes of those issues. The participants can identify if the problems are people-based or flaws in the system that require fixing.
The ideal day exercise may focus more on fundamental goal-setting, but it may help uncover the negative things that appear minor but have a significant influence.
5) Reference point
We think as per our previous reference points. To think bigger, we need to anchor ourselves farther away from the shore.
A ship is always safe at shore but that is not what it’s built for, “Albert Einstein
In this activity, you state the task first. ‘How many High knees do you think you can do in 1 minute?’ Most people would start with something small. Then you cross-question them, does anyone think they can beat that? You keep going till you get an answer no one can beat. Now you can begin the activity by timing the participants as everyone counts how many high knees have they completed. The key takeaway from this activity is, we aim as per our mental beliefs and barriers. We set goals that are short simply because we do not think going beyond is possible. This activity will encourage you to set expectations that are Realistic and Achievable with the right efforts. You just need to sail away from the shore to catch more fish!
6) After one year
The “after one year” is another common and successful goal-setting workshop activity. Folks often put off tasks related to long-term goals until later, assuming that they will have more time to finish them later. The result is often stagnancy after a year. Participants can rapidly identify and break down what has to happen each month to realize their desired outcome with this activity.
Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between different activities. Get it right, and you’ll end up working smarter, not harder, to get more done in less time – even when time is tight and pressures are high. The highest achievers manage their time exceptionally well.
1) Schedule Your Priorities
A list of tasks, each worth a different number of points, is presented to you in this activity.
The group is divided into teams, and each team has 10 minutes to complete its assigned tasks. You then add up the points. After that, you talk with them about their prioritization process.
You have a few large rocks, smaller rocks, gravel, sand, water, and an empty jar. How much of the other items you can put in depends on what you put in first. Nothing will fit (except for some water) if you put the sand in first, but if you start with the big rocks (the most crucial tasks), you can fit some of everything.
The Pomodoro is a widely known and used time management activity for students, employees, and perfectionists. Millions of people swear by its life-changing power.
The Pomodoro technique involves four cycles, each of 30 minutes. Each cycle is divided into 25 minutes of work and a 5-minute break. After completing the four cycles, take a long break of 20 minutes. Repeat the process until the end of the tasks. This is one of the effective time management skills for planning, avoiding distraction, stress management, and setting priorities.
Line-up is a great game to see how fast a team can synchronize their efforts to produce results. Here’s how to play it:
The participants will be split into groups of 10-15 players per group. Participants will then arrange themselves randomly in a straight line within their group. The facilitator will call out a particular characteristic:
- “Height, from shortest to tallest!”
- “Birthday, from earliest to latest!”
- “Hair length, longest to shortest!”
- “Number of kids, least to most!” and so on…
The participants will then rush to arrange themselves in that order, and the group that successfully completes the arrangement wins.
4) Ace of Spades
There are two volunteers and two decks of cards available for this activity. The two volunteers compete to see who can locate the Ace of Spades first. The first deck is arranged in order, while the second deck is mixed up. The idea is to demonstrate how time management and productivity can be impacted by sorting.
5). The value of 86,400
The $86,400 time management activity is excellent for changing how your employees perceive time. Ask each person or group, ‘If you had $86,400 only for a day, how would you spend it?’ Tell them to write down a schedule of their day. Ask them what they would spend on and when. Next, Explain to them that they can’t bank the money, and it doesn’t carry over. Anything they haven’t assigned to spend over twenty-four hours is gone.
This activity is a visual representation of time, as there are 86,400 seconds in a day. It shows the importance of time by making employees more aware of the limited time they have. This helps them understand how to prioritize and complete important tasks first.
6) The winning lottery ticket
For this activity, you will ask employees what they would do if they won $20 million. For instance, you may want to know if the participants would spend or save the money and their priorities. Five minutes later, tell the employees the winning prize has dropped to $10 million. You can have the employees list the revisions they would want to make and the new priorities they would make. After that, let the participants know that the money has dropped further to $5 million and ask what changes they would make to their goals and priorities.
This activity aims to help participants identify and prioritize their core values and priorities. Having a clear understanding of the company’s core principles can help employees achieve their objectives in the workplace.
It is the number one most important life skill for living a meaningful life. Good communication skills are a must-need within any organization. These activities focus on improving verbal and non-verbal communication skills among team members. We have an entirely separate blog on how communication can change your workplace dynamics, you can find it here.
1) 3-minute Vacation
- Here is another talker and listener exercise that can be done in pairs. In a larger group of participants, this can be done multiple times as players pair up with different conversation partners. And in each pair, of course, team members will take turns being listeners and talkers.
- The talker discusses their dream vacation for three minutes, describing what they would like best about it but without specifying where it should be. While they talk, the listener pays close attention to the explicit and underlying details, using only non-verbal cues to show that they are listening.
- After the 3-minute vacation, the listener summarizes the key points of their conversation partner’s dream vacation—as a holiday sales pitch. After they’ve ‘pitched’ the ideal vacation spot in the space of a few minutes, the pair discuss how accurately the listener understood the talker.
- They outline how they could improve their dialogue with regard to active listening, and then swap roles. A twist on this team coaching exercise might involve allowing the listener to make notes during the talker’s description, revealing them as a point of discussion only after they deliver the ‘sales pitch’.
2) Say It With Feeling
- Say It With Feeling is a communication game that stresses emotional intelligence. In each round, a player receives a random phrase and a random emotion. The player must read the sentence in that specific style, and teammates must guess the feeling. The game gets really fun when the emotions are complex and specific, for instance, “the jittery feeling you get after being stuck in a meeting for two hours,” or “disoriented, like when you are unsure of which subway exit to take.”
- The speaker can ask guessers to be more specific and award points accordingly.
- As the name of this game suggests, the human knot brings teams together in a very literal sense! A fun trust-building exercise that you can do anywhere and anytime, it’s sure to generate giggles galore.
- To play the Human Knot, you’ll need an even number of employees and 6 or more people on the team. The more people you have, the harder the task becomes.
- Start the activity by asking everyone on the team to stand in a circle.
- Next, tell them to reach their right hand into the center and to hold hands with someone on the opposite side of the circle. They must then do the same thing with their left hand, ensuring they grab hands with a new partner. Take note: you’re not allowed to hold hands with whoever’s immediately on your left or right.
- By this point, they should be well and truly knotted. Their goal is to unravel the knot, without letting go of each other’s hands. Want to make things harder? Give them a 5-minute time limit! Feel free to take as long as you want though. One of the biggest reasons to do the Human Knot is that it levels the playing field. Rather than one person acting as a leader and issuing orders, the focus is on working together; everyone has an equal role in achieving the desired outcome.
4) Direction Direction
This activity is a slight twist on Chinese Whispers in that it uses a complex set of instructions rather than just a sentence. And here, we have only one link rather than an entire chain of people. Otherwise, the idea is identical—information gets misinterpreted thanks to noise, but we can improve our verbal communication and listening skills to minimize this risk.
First, pick a game with enough instructions that the information is a challenge to memorize. With 2+ co-workers, pick one person (a speaker) to whom you’ll explain the instructions. They are responsible for passing the information on to the rest of their team. The group then needs to play the game with only instructions from the speaker.
Once they’ve finished the game, start some dialogue about what happened:
- Was there any lack of clarity around the instructions?
- What might have contributed to this confusion?
- What are some key things to be aware of when we give or listen to instructions?
To start Snakes, place employees into groups of five to seven individuals. Each group stands in a single-file line and blindfolds every member except the one in the back. Arrange items around the room for each individual.
The person seeing directs their line by tapping on the person’s shoulder in front of them. Then, that person taps the same shoulder of the person in front of them until the instructions reach the front.
The instructions help the team navigate the room until they pick up an object. The person at the front removes their blindfold, goes to the back of the line, and takes the lead role.
These activities focus on building trust and rapport among team members, often involving blindfolds, group support, or reliance on one another to accomplish a task.
1) Blindfolded obstacle course
- Set up an obstacle course
- Blindfold one player
- Ask other players to guide the player through the course by shouting directions.
- To make the game more fun and exciting, you can time course completion or introduce traps and penalties. Whatever way you play, this activity emphasizes the need to give precise instructions and gives teammates practice giving each other directions.
2). Dragon’s tower
Dragon’s tower requires multiple teams of three individuals. Each team member has a different role. The roles are the silent one, the talker, and the tracker. The silent one faces out toward the area, and the talker watches the silent one. Blindfolded, the tracker makes it from one end of the space to the other, grabs an object, and returns.
The silent one watches the tracker’s movements and makes nonverbal gestures to the talker. Then the talker attempts to translate those gestures into verbal directions for the tracker. The first team to retrieve their object and return wins.
3) Magic pointer
This activity requires one long rod/stick and at least 10 participants. The participants must collectively select one leader. Now the game requires every single person to hold out only the pointer finger of one hand and touch the nail tip below the rod or stick. The rod should lie on the pointer finger of all the participants. Now the goal is to bring the rod down to the ground, however, during the process, everyone must be touching the rod at all times. If there is any team player who is not touching the rod, it will restart.
To make it interesting, two teams can compete simultaneously, you can keep a timer for 5 mins and each team gets only 3 tries.
This activity will emphasize trust among the members and the leader. The leader has to guide the participants to help them bring the stick down to the ground. The activity can seem very easy but the easiest tasks are often the hardest of them all.
4) Night trail
For the night trail, use an open space or forest and create an obstacle course using trees and other large objects. Tie a rope from one end of the obstacle course to the other. Place employees into teams of four to five individuals and blindfold them.
Then, have them navigate their way through the obstacle course using the rope and their communication skills. The team starts and ends the obstacle course in the same order they began.
5) Running free
Want an easy exercise that only takes a few minutes to complete? Well, running free could be perfect. Quick yet effective, it’s a surprisingly powerful way to bring employees closer together, evoke feelings of excitement and elation, and get them to trust each other better in the process.
To do it, you should go somewhere spacious and outside – like a park, large garden, or playing field. Then divide everyone into pairs, asking one member of each to wear a blindfold. Next comes the fun bit:
Instruct each pair to hold hands and start walking, then jogging, then running, and finally sprinting, with the sighted person leading the way each time! When that’s done, they swap the blindfold and repeat the process.
It’s surprising how much trust you have to put in the person leading you. Expect giggles, squeals, and nervous delight from the get-go!
However, you should always make sure people are fit, healthy, physically able, and willing to do this activity first. The last thing you want is for someone to get injured or feel excluded because they have mobility issues.
6) The Blind Polygon
This is an excellent activity or icebreaker for helping your employees cope when working in new groups or projects. It requires one leader and several smaller groups.
Here’s how it works: Blindfold each player and give the team a length of rope. The Groups must fold or adjust the rope into a shape specified by the leader, like a rectangle. The team leader should set a time limit. No one may remove the blindfold, and every individual must be touching the rope at all times. Next, Give the groups some time to make their shape. Once the time is up, let the groups look at their shapes before tackling them again.
The activity is excellent for team-building and forces groups to analyze how they handle a task within a set timeframe by trusting each other.
Initially, employees might perform poorly. However, once they develop the required critical thinking and analytical skills, their performance will gradually improve.
The all-in-one package- Teamwork games put your teams to the test. All the above-learned skills will be put to use in these games. Leadership, goal setting, communication, and trust among members will determine who wins and who loses.
1) The Marshmallow Challenge
This is a simple design exercise and team-building activity for small groups.
The groups have to build the tallest free-standing structure from some spaghetti sticks, tape, and string and place one whole marshmallow on the top.
Running the challenge requires about 1 hour and some simple household items.
The exercise teaches essential lessons about the creative product development process and the nature of collaboration.
The rules are easy; in 18 minutes, each group can use 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of masking tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow to build the tallest free-standing structure with the entire marshmallow on the top.
To run the challenge yourself, check out our detailed step-by-step instructions.
The teams can break the spaghetti and cut the tape and string into any sized pieces.
A team can also use the materials as much or as little as they wish. For example, if they decide to use all or no spaghetti, the same applies to the masking tape and string.
The exercise should be done indoors, and each team should have a steady table.
This challenge needs to be friendly and encouraging.
However, the following three instructions need to be strictly respected.
You Must Use the Entire Marshmallow
The marshmallow mustn’t be split into smaller pieces and must be placed on top of the structure.
Build the Tallest Free-standing Structure
The groups can hold the structure until the end of the exercise. After that, the structure with the marshmallow on the top must stand on its own.
The team with the tallest structure measured is the winning team.
Stop When the Time Runs Out
The exercise is 18 minutes long. Therefore, the teams must stop working on their structure at the 18-minute mark. After this, if a team tries to support their structure, they’re automatically disqualified.
2) Scavenger Hunt
You can plan a quick 15 to 30-minute scavenger hunt for team members to complete at their desks. The items on the list should all be on a desk. The beauty of this hunt is that it can serve as a great distraction or brain break during a long work week and can inspire employees to clean up their workspaces!
Here are example ideas:
- Staple two different colored pieces of paper together.
- Cut letters out of paper to create a message.
- Take a screenshot of your desktop loaded to your favorite vacation destination.
- Build a tower using only Post-it notes, paper clips, and tape.
- Leave only black and white items on your desk.
- Find four different snacks.
- Replace pictures with hand-drawn replicas of the previous photo.
- Create a rubber band ball.
- Find two different colored highlighters
- Find four different colored pens.
- Use a hole punch and scissors to create a snowflake.
- Fill your coffee mug with something other than coffee.
- Use a calculator to spell a word.
3) Team sports
Team sports like soccer, volleyball, or basketball can improve teamwork, communication, and camaraderie. There can also be Indoor options such as Badminton, Table Tennis, Squash, Carrom Board, Ludo, Chess Board, Bowling, Pool, and snooker. etc
4) Escape Room
Teams are locked in a room and must work together to solve clues and escape within a set time limit, encouraging cooperation and creative problem-solving.
5) Problem-solving challenges
Teams work together to solve puzzles, riddles, or complex problems that require collaboration and critical thinking.
Gratitude and Mindfulness
A lot of the time, what we are actually missing is simply quality of life. It is very easy to lose yourself in the process of achieving big and tiring goals. Work-life can be extremely stressful and burdensome. This is why we recommend you do certain lifestyle activities with your team. This imbibes a sense of care and togetherness.
It is quite simple when you put it like this, work definitely forms a major part of our lives. It is a big responsibility but it can also be enjoyable depending on how it affects your personal life. If you leave work with a boatload of stress only to get more of that once you get home, there is not much to go on about. That kind of a life isn’t living. I used the word culture earlier as many organizations are really fascinated by “What is culture?” Well, culture is additional value. How does your organization add to the quality of life of its employees? Or as I like to say, is it GPTW? Is it a Great Place To Work? And if your team of employees says ‘yes’, you must be doing something right!
So here I am going to provide you with certain culture-building activities that your organization desperately needs if it is not a GPTW:
1) Rose session
The Rose session is a great activity for improving morale and boosting productivity. You start by handing out 1 rose to everyone. Now each rose signifies all the best qualities within you. Explain to the team that they must try to visualize that all the good qualities within them are now summarized within that one rose. Now we can start the activity as everyone has to go around the room exchanging roses with every single person. As you give your rose to another person, you appreciate all the good qualities you see in them, and as they give their rose to you, they appreciate the good qualities they see in you.
This activity is based on the principle of “ you grow by lifting others.” When you appreciate qualities in other people, you learn them and imbibe them within you. It builds team sentiment and not just competitiveness. We all grow together. You can make the activity more fun by playing songs with team sentiment in the background.
2) I am Thankful for
This is a gratefulness activity. The team sits in a circle such that everyone can see each other. Starting with one person sharing something they are grateful for starting with “ I am thankful for…..” the next person says something they are thankful for, and so on and so forth. The only rule is you can’t repeat someone else’s gratitude statement. The game can be more fun and be played numerous times, As you go round and round, there are end number of things to be thankful for!
3) Deep breathing
Deep Breathing is a mindfulness exercise. This activity is a time out from all the stressful and exhausting activities you have running in your head all day. There are various types of deep breathing exercises that you can follow. Some Yoga mats or meditation chairs are all that you need for this activity. For a detailed explanation of the exercise, you can read this blog here.
4) Guided meditation
Meditation is a life-building activity. The reason meditation works better in teams is that getting yourself to do it alone might require strong motivation, but when your group is doing it, everyone joins in without complaints. You can have a guided meditation session, there are plenty on YouTube you simply need to look it up and you’re all set. If it’s an Occasional event, having some yoga instructor guide you through a meditation session can have great results as well.
5) Celebrate the wins in your team
An easy activity that will have everyone feeling good before a meeting. Go around a circle and highlight a story – an action, decision, or result – that can and should be praised by each team member. Something where they reached beyond their typical responsibilities and excelled.
Have everyone acknowledge and thank each other for surpassing expectations. This is a great mood booster – by lifting each other up, the energy just starts to vibrate in the room. Everyone likes to be recognized. Icebreakers for meetings that give people the chance to celebrate success can be key in setting a great tone for the meeting to come.
The role of the leader in conducting an interactive and productive session is the most important. If you feel unsure as to how you should go about it, check out this article here. As tiresome and time-consuming as planning activity can be, you will get 10x faster results than any other method. There is nothing else that can make learning fun and easy.
However it is important that the activities end with key takeaways, and let everyone have a turn to speak and share their learnings. Try to end the day on a good note, maybe send away your team with some gifts (Even chocolates can make someone’s day). Your work can be much more fulfilling and rewarding I assure you, you just need to do what the 99% aren’t- put in the extra effort. Take care of the people around you and they will stand by you when you need them the most.
If you are looking for ways to improve your workplace culture through better communication, you should explore our communication coaching