Your team is like a machine; it’s efficient when it is well taken care of and all parts are working together. It is also like a machine in the sense that if maintenance is neglected, it won’t be nearly as effective as it should be. Everyone has their unique strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. By understanding each other through team building activities, we are able to create a more productive team and better communicate with one another. Thus, making each piece of your ‘team machine’ run happily and properly.
How do you achieve this utopian work environment, you ask? The answer is simple; Team building activities and games. Team building has an impressive track record that’s hard to ignore. These activities are fun, challenging, great for all ages, and groups big and small. The benefits of team building activities include:
- Improving communication
- Members of the group getting to know one another better
- Learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses
- Increasing teamwork among a group
- Improving creative problem-solving skills
If you’re looking for some quick and easy team building activities to do with any team, here is something for you. Eight simple challenge games that are broken into two categories: no props, or a few props.
Team Building Activities With No Props Necessary
Two Truths and A Lie
Duration: 10-15 minutes
Purpose: Icebreaker and Getting to Know One Another
Description: This game is as classic as it gets. Start out by having the participants sit in a circle. Instruct them to come up with two true statements and one lie. Make sure that the lie is believable and the truths aren’t obvious (ex. I went to a Kelly Clarkson concert when I was in high school, I went to Niagara Falls for my Honeymoon, or my childhood’s dog name was Fluffy). Have everyone go around in the circle sharing their two truths and a lie in the order of their choosing. The object of the game is to have the group vote and figure out which statement was a lie. Voting can be done by a raise of hands, or jotting down on a piece of paper. Once the voting is done, the speaker will share which one was false.
This game is a great way for people to get to know things about each other that they wouldn’t normally on a day to day basis.
Duration: 10-20 minutes
Purpose: Communication and Teamwork
Description: Human Knot is a fun game that relies heavily on communication and teamwork. Start out by having everyone stand in a tight circle, shoulders touching. Have everyone in the group put out their right arm and grab someone from across the circle. Then, instruct them to put out their left arm and grab another person’s hand across the circle again. The group will then have to untangle themselves within a set time limit and without letting go. If you have a large group, make a few smaller circles and have the groups compete with one another. Not only will this game challenge the team’s communication ability, but also it will get everyone laughing and having a great time.
Duration: 5-10 minutes
Purpose: Icebreaker and Creative Problem Solving
Description: The goal of this team building challenge is to have everyone line up in the order of his or her birthday (Month/Day)… without speaking! The group must think of a creative way to communicate with one another using body language. Once everyone has lined up, go down the line and have each person share their birthday and see how well they did. Afterward, reflect on the difficulties of communicating without words and how they managed to achieve their goal.
Guess the Leader/Copycat
Duration: 15-20 minutes
Purpose: Warm Up Activity
Description: For this team building activity, choose a ‘guesser’ to leave the room, so they will not have the knowledge of who the leader will be. The guesser’s job is to identify the leader of the group. Next, have everyone sit or stand in a circle and determine whom the leader will be. The leader’s job is to make movements that everyone will be able to copy at the same pace, therefore challenging the guesser. Once the leader has been chosen, the guesser will come back into the room and stand in the center of the circle. That’s when the fun begins. The leader will start making any movements he/she wants (waving their arms, rubbing their belly, patting their head, jumping, etc.). The followers will have to try their best to mimic these movements and make minimal eye contact with the leader so they won’t give away whom it is. As time progresses and the leader hasn’t been caught, they should speed up and make the moves more challenging.
Team Building Activities With Props Necessary
Duration: 15-30 minutes
Purpose: Creative Problem Solving, Communication and Trust
Description: If your team is working on trust, this is the team building activity for you. First, find an area that has enough open space to make your “mine field”. Set up your “mines” with objects such as cones, bowling pins, foam noodles, etc. Then have your team break into groups of two. Try to be strategic when coupling the groups so they can get the most out of the exercise. For example, if there are two members of the group that frequently butt heads, pair them up to have them work on their professional relationship and communication. One team member will be blindfolded (or simply close their eyes) while they maneuver through the course, while the other stands outside of the mine field and vocally directs the blindfolded teammate to the other side, without hitting any of the mines. When they have completed the challenge, switch roles so each person can have a chance to direct and be blindfolded. In between rounds, have your teams discuss the challenge. What worked, what didn’t, and what was their best method.
Duration: 20-30 minutes
Purpose: Clear Communication, Problem Solving, Working together
Description: Like most team building activities, this one is fun, teaches a valuable lesson, and is incredibly difficult if your team isn’t working together! You can either use a long, lightweight rod, or a hula-hoop (depending on what you have around), but for this example, we will say rod or helium stick. Groups should ideally be anywhere from 6-14 participants, so if you have a large number of people, break them into smaller groups. Instruct everyone to place the rod on top of his or her fingers. There is no grabbing, pinching, or holding of any kind, only having it set on top of the fingers. The object of the game is to have everyone work together to lower the helium stick to the ground, but there’s a game changing catch! Everyone’s fingers must be touching the rod at all times, or they will have to restart. Once everyone understands the rules, let them begin! This is when everyone will notice the helium stick starts to move upwards, even though the goal is to lower it to the ground. Everyone will get a kick out of it, and some may be a little confused. After the humorous first attempt, have your groups come up with a game plan and assure them it is possible. The best method is to move very slow and coordinate every movement.
This is Better Than That
Duration: 15-20 minutes
Purpose: Creative Problem Solving
Description: This team building activity will bring out everyone’s creative side. The moderator will choose a few objects (4 or more) that are all different from one another. Have everyone break into smaller, even groups. Then there will be a scenario presented and all of the groups will have to rate the objects by their usefulness for that particular scenario. Their scenarios can be as wild as they’d like. For example “You’re lost in the desert, or you’re stuck out on a raft at sea”. Once they have ranked their objects and gave their reasoning behind their choices, everyone can share their answers amongst the entire group.
Duration: 10-15 minutes
Purpose: Clear Communication
Description: Clear communication is key for any group that needs to work together and this game will show your team why it is so important, and how to improve. Everyone will need to break up into groups of two and be seated back to back. One will be given a writing utensil and paper and the other will be given a picture. The person with the photo will have to describe the image in the best detail they can, without saying what the picture actually is. The other will have to try to draw it. The picture might be a house or a banana, but they can only describe the characteristics and shapes that make up the image. Once the time is up, review the drawing and reflect on how strong the communication was between the two. Reverse the rolls and have them try again.
Team building activities are effective for all different types of groups and can be done virtually anywhere. Get outside and try one!
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