1. What Makes You Tick
You could think of this as “what makes you ticked off”, as this is an exercise in learning about each other’s personalities and seeing what kind of personalities will clash. As a group, take a personality test together. Bring in a speaker, if time allows, to expound on the different personality traits, their strengths, their weaknesses, and a plan on how potential clashes can be alleviated.
Choose a personality test that isn’t excessively complicated. The DISC personality test is a good choice, as is the True Colors personality test. These tests simplify things and create easily remembered results. During future teamwork efforts, when conflicts arise, a team member can say “remember, I am orange” and the others will know exactly what she means.
Purpose: Knowing what motivates and what demotivates other team members is powerful. By establishing how each team member works best, and how they react in different situations, they can learn how to approach each other differently to succeed in work and personal interaction.
2. Ideas As Building Blocks
Create a fictional problem that must be solved. It could be a theoretical product, a brain teaser, a riddle, a design challenge — anything that needs a solution. Assemble your team, and have them write down an idea on a large sheet of paper. They only need to write a sentence or two.
Have them pass the paper to the person on their left, and instruct them to use the new idea to build another solution upon. Continue for several rounds, and then see what the results are. You may want to choose a fictional problem that allows you to reveal one aspect of the challenge each round.
Purpose: This exercise shows the value of everyone’s ideas. As you work as a team, brainstorming sessions often sway towards the vocal and dominant personalities even though other team members have valuable ideas, too. By forcing these ideas to have equal footing, each team member’s ability to contribute is established.
3. Truth And Lie
Give each team member four identical slips of paper. Instruct them to write down three truths and one lie. The lie should be believable to some extent (i.e. not “I’ve been to Mars”), and the tenor of the truths and lie should not be offensive or crude. Go around the group, one at a time, and have them read the truths and lie in random order. When they are finished, the team should discuss which they think are the truths and which are the lies.
Purpose: This exercise fits into the “get to know each other” category. Extroverts have no difficulty in making themselves known, but introverts often remain an enigma, bowled into silence. This exercise gives them equal footing to reveal facts about themselves as well as expose the assumptions others have made. Participants learn about others and also learn about themselves through the lies they thought were true.
4. The Barter Puzzle
Break your team into groups of equal members. Give each team a distinctly different jigsaw puzzle of equal difficulty. Explain that they have a set amount of time to complete the puzzle as a group. Explain that some of the pieces in their puzzle belong to the other puzzles in the room.
The goal is to complete their puzzle before the other groups, and that they must come up with their own method of convincing the other teams to relinquish the pieces they need, whether through barter, exchange of team members, donating time to another team, a merger, etc. Whatever they choose to do, they must do it as a group.
Purpose: This exercise is time-consuming, but it accomplishes creative teamwork on several levels. As a team, they must build the puzzle. As a team, they must find a way to convince the other teams to help them. In other words, they must solve both the puzzle and the problem of getting their pieces back.
5. Use What You Have
Divide your team into equal groups. Create a specific project with clear restrictions and a goal. For example, you might have your team create a device that involves movement without electricity, and moves a golf ball from point A to point B. The challenge is completely up to you.
Then give each team the same supplies to work from, or create a pile of available supplies in the middle of the room. Give them a specific time to complete the project, making sure to mention that they can only use what is available, though how they use it is completely up to them. The final reveal is a fun event, and a great opportunity for your team to compete.
Purpose: Problem solving as a team, with a strong mix of creativity, is exactly what this exercise accomplishes. It also brings an element of fun and maker-ism into the mix, with the added twist of learning how to solve a problem with reduced options.
6. Created Economy
In the book Weslandia by Paul Fleischman, the young boy Wes creates his own language, culture, and economy one summer. A new startup created a small economy and ended up having a great deal of fun as well as learning about what motivated other team members.
Get your team together and decide if you want to create an economy or some mini-aspect of larger society. Set up the rules you will abide by, leaving enough wiggle room to experience problems that need group agreement to solve as the system is put into action.
Purpose: By creating a “mini” society, your team naturally creates problems and challenges that force them to work together. There are rewards and penalties. Some team members will reveal themselves to be rule-abiders and others as creative rule-benders. The team will quickly learn how others work, solve, and think outside of the typical work-related realm. This will bring new understanding to work-related projects that need solutions.
7. Common Book
This team-building exercise takes place not in one sitting, but over time. Make a large, blank journal or scrapbook available in the break room or other common areas. The book may have prompts on each page, asking questions or suggesting things to write or draw. Or, you may have guidelines printed and displayed next to the book (i.e. no swearing, nothing offensive, no complaints, no scribbling out other’s work, etc.).
Leave pens, markers, tape, and other items that your team can use to write and draw in the book. Encourage them to write down quotes from things they are reading or from team members, to write about a fun event that happened at work, tape or glue ephemera or anything that helps record the team’s culture. When the book is full, put it on the shelf and get a new one.
Purpose: This team exercise creates a living history of your business that you can keep adding to. It is somewhat similar to the Zappos culture book, but allows your team a chance to build it more directly. This game encourages creativity, collaboration, and recollection. It also gives you something concrete to look at in the future to see where your team has been and how far they’ve come.
8. Scavenger Hunt
Divide your team into equal sized groups, and send them out with a list of items to locate and bring back. Whether they remain in the office or are to leave the building is up to you. The ultimate goal is to get back first with the most items. You may want to set a time limit so that all groups are back in a reasonable time, whether they found all items or not. A scavenger hunt can be themed, and might involve a variety of clues or other twists that force a team to get creative and work together.
One variation is to make it a digital scavenger hunt in which they must find examples and specific information or web pages online. You may wish to restrict which search engines or methods they use to complete the challenge.
Purpose: A scavenger hunt is a fun activity that forces people to work together as a team. It spurs creativity, particularly if clues or riddles are involved.
9. Geocache Adventure
Much like a scavenger hunt, a geocache adventure relies on clues but has the added level of using GPS coordinates to find an item. Each group will need to have a GPS device that will work for finding geocaches. There are several apps available to use on smartphones that would suffice. You may wish to have a set time in which all groups must return. The clues you hide in specific geographic locations could be part of a larger riddle or message that you wish the teams to have revealed to them.
A variation of this might be to use QR codes placed around the office or neighborhood, mixing GPS locations with other clues found in QR codes.
Purpose: This exercise helps team members work together to achieve a specific goal using a specific and narrow process in which close enough is not good enough. It also promotes problem solving in a creative way if riddles and puzzles are involved.
10. Show And Tell
It’s unfortunate that show and tell is something that ends when you’re young. Whether your interest is in the code you’re writing or ham radio, there are things each person would like to share with the group. Set aside a regular day for “show and tell” and give the next team member on the list the opportunity to bring something in and/or present on a topic. If you do this over lunch, be sure to cater food and make it a fun time. Require team members to be present. Have a question and answer session afterwards.
Purpose: Most people are eager to let others know interesting things about themselves, but not all team members are able to make that happen. Most teams are lopsided, with some members dominating discussion. Using regular “show and tell” sessions gives all team members a chance at center stage while also becoming familiar with giving a presentation and fielding questions.
Do you need a professional?
Please feel free to contact us and talk to us about your team and how we are able to assist you and your staff.