27 Feb 5 Quick Team Building Activities
Team building activities usually get a bad rap – and it’s often deserved. No leader sets out to waste anyone’s time and yet many of us have spent hours doing trust falls or baring our souls to complete strangers in a drum circle.
But despite its reputation, team building can be a very effective way to build trust, mitigate conflict and increase collaboration. I’ve used many techniques for years that are both very effective and not humiliating ;-)
Many team-building activities last hours or even all day. But sometimes you just want one or two simple and quick team-building activities at the top of a meeting. Maybe you want to set the tone for the meeting, or get people thinking creatively, or diffuse tension. Whatever the reason, you can get a lot of team-building bang for literally no bucks with these quick and simple activities. Here are a few ideas that I’ve both used and gathered from others:
Ideas for Quick Team-Building Activities
- To help your team bond while acknowledging that everyone has good days and bad days, I recommend High, Low, Looking Forward. In this activity, gather your team and one-by-one, team members list a “high” — a positive work experience that happened to them that week — a “low” — a negative work experience that happened to them that week — and a “looking forward” — a work experience to which they’re looking forward. It’s a great way to spread positive energy and dismiss negative energy.
- To demonstrate that everyone is connected and valued on your team, try That’s Me. In this game, you ask the group to form a circle and one person who holds a large ball of yarn begins by sharing a fun fact, like “I love sushi” or “I’m from Chicago.” When someone in the group hears something they share, they say “That’s Me” and the ball of yarn is passed to them, leaving a trail of thread from the first person. This continues until there is a yarn maze connecting your team. Quick and easy “get to know you” activity and validation of everyone’s interconnectedness.
- If you’ve got a virtual team, I recommend Guess the Owner. Have the team leader collect a picture from each team member that uniquely describes a part of their personality or interest. At the start of the team meeting, the leader will reveal them one at a time while members try to guess who it belongs to. You could also have people submit pictures of the same thing – shoes they wear, favorite coffee mug, pets or work space. It’s a nice way to learn more about team members that you don’t work with face to face.
- To reinforce clear communication, I like Buzzword Bingo. Choose a few words or phrases that are banned for the duration of the meeting. People get points when they say the banned words and low point earners win. This is particularly good if you’re trying to eliminate certain jargon, or you’ve change the nomenclature of something, or you just hate vague, non-specific corporate speak and want people to speak plainly. Here’s a few that I like to incorporate:
- “at the end of the day”
- “out of the box”
- “best in class”
- “game changer”
- “value add”
- If you have 15 minutes and want to work on communication, try Blind Drawing. Divide your group into pairs, giving one person pen and paper and the other a picture of an object. The person with the picture must then describe the picture without actually saying what it is, while the other person can’t see the picture. This is a good one for communication, problem solving and interpretation.
- Anyone can play trivia, but why not play Office/Company Trivia to kick off your next meeting? Collect fun, obscure trivia like, ‘What does the poster say in the cafeteria?’ and ‘How many Johns can you name in IT?’ and ‘What was the topic of the CEOs last blog post?’ This is not about memorizing the mission statement. It’s meant just to be fun.
Other quick team-building activities include fun ongoing games like joke of the week, meme of the week, funny YouTube video of the week or online games (Pictionary for example) that you can post on your team’s website or intranet page as a way to relax and bond. And incidentally, these work well for virtual teams and teams in the same office. I could literally list go on and on and with quick team-building activity ideas, but I’d like to hear from you! Send your favorite quick and simple team building ideas to us here.