The term “Team Building Activities” instantly gets groans and eye rolls from people. Why? Because they’re usually activities that management thinks employees will find fun and instead they make employees yearn for their desks.
Quality Logo Products we tried our own version of a team building activity a few months ago. We were all split into groups of four or five people and we played TriJenga. Yup, you read that right. ‘TriJenga’ combined the excitement of Trivial Pursuit and the nail-biting enjoyment of Jenga into one game. We played it tournament-style, complete with brackets and daily email reminders informing us which teams were competing. Who was the ultimate TriJenga champion though? The world will never know.
One of the flaws of this game (besides not having consistent rules) was that it took anywhere from 30 minutes to sometimes 45 minutes for each game. Our sales team is blessed with a lot clients who need help with promotional products, so we only got through a few rounds before nothing was ever said about it again.
While we were on the right path to wanting to strengthen our team here at QLP, we just bit off more than we could chew. Don’t let this discourage you from wanting to bring your team closer together; the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
Benefits of Team Building:
- Increases Productivity: How many times have you sat at your desk and zoned out into space because you were that unmotivated to do much of anything else? Team building activities are a great excuse to get people up and out of their chairs and interact with coworkers they may not usually get to see or talk to. When the activity is done and wrapped up, your employees will have a renewed sense of motivation and will power through the rest of their day.
Improves Motivation & Confidence: When we’re working on a task that just seems to have no easy fix to, guess what happens to our motivation level? It plummets. However, when we can think about past situation where things seemed doomed and see that through trial and error a solution was found, our confidence levels increase. Self-assurance levels in your employees that problems will work themselves out will reduce the lost time typically spent pulling their hair out.
- Foster Problem Solving: Going off of the previous point, when a group of people are asked to complete a task, chances there are will be a lot of suggestions on how to get it done. Every idea won’t work, but from one idea another one may come to mind and BOOM! There’s the way to solve the problem. This can easily be applied to their jobs as well and the next time they get stuck on something, they’ll know that by asking for other suggestions they’ll eventually find the answer.
- Encourages Creativity: Getting up and out of normal work environments is enough to spark some new ideas that under normal working conditions couldn’t have presented themselves. Depending on the environment that the team building occurs in, the sky’s the limit on creativity that can be fostered. Desk-bound employees will appreciate the excuse to get up and get their eyes off the computer screen, instead of having to create excuses to move around.
Now before you think I’m leaving you high and dry without any ideas, don’t you fret. A simple Google search will give you as many results as you have time to read through, but from my research here are some great ideas that will get the fewest eye rolls from employees.
Communication & Icebreaker Exercises: These are a few suggestions for getting groups up and mingling with as little awkwardness as possible.
- Two Truths and a Lie: Give each person a note card and have them write down two things about themselves that are true (vacationed in Italy last year, afraid of spiders, still believes in monsters under the bed, etc.) and one thing that is a complete lie. Have them walk around and chat with people and find out what other people’s truths and lies are. This is a great way to ignite conversations!
Create a Logo: Split your large group into smaller groups of three to five people each and have them create a logo for their group using only the things with them or in their pockets. If you want, you can bring in some smaller items for people to use; pipe cleaners, feathers, beads, etc. Decide before you start though whether you’ll allow the groups to talk to other groups and trade items.
- Guess Who?: A popular game that is guaranteed to get people talking to each other. Each person gets a famous person’s name printed on a sticky note and put on their back. They don’t know who their “secret identity” is, but everyone else does. By talking to people and getting clues they’ll soon be able to guess who they’ve been given.
Problem Solving Exercises: These are great to play after an icebreaker exercise, or on their own with groups who are already acquainted with each other.
- Zoom: (no, not the awesome PBS show from the 1970’s and revised in the 1990’s): this one requires Istvan Banyai’s wordless, picture book entitled, “Zoom”. The book is filled with 30 sequential pictures that work together to form a narrative. For this activity, cut out the pictures and laminate to keep them from getting bent or ripped. Hand one picture to each participant and explain that they can’t show their picture to anyone else, all they can do is talk about it and explain what’s being featured in their picture. Have them try to get the group to place the pictures in sequential order without looking at one another’s picture.
There’s sadly no name for this activity and I couldn’t think of a witty enough one: You give each group a gallon sized zip top bag full of LEGOs and instruct each group to build a LEGO structure (from a picture which you have provided) without opening up the bag. Watch as the problem solving skills really shines with this activity!
For something truly low-key, there’s nothing wrong with taking your employees out for dinner and drinks after a particularly rough day. They’ll appreciate knowing that their boss isn’t some stale coffee breath sorta person out to make their lives a living Hell. It all just comes down to interacting with coworkers and getting people excited about their job once again. How you do that though is completely up to you.
Do you have a favorite team building activity that you remember participating in? What advice do you have to managers planning an activity like this? Can you think of an awesome name for the LEGO activity? Sound off below!