Effective Team Building Activities

Effective Team Building Activities



Team building is an organized effort to improve team effectiveness.  All members of the team must be committed to the idea in order for the effort to be effective. Team building can be indicated for any team or for a work team that is considered to be” in trouble”. Team building implies hard work that continues on after the initial training session.

The Benefits and Disadvantages

The Benefits:

  • Team building improves productivity and motivation.
  • Teams will gain and increase ability to solve problems.
  • Team building helps break down personal and political barriers and allows for rapport building.
  • The process can help level the playing field between outgoing and shy team members.
  • Participating in team building can help teams overcome performance problems.

The Disadvantages:

  • Team building requires expert facilitation in order to be successful. Not every team leader has innate facilitation skills.
  • Activities can be time-consuming for teams with a short-term charter.  And if team members are part-time, they may have conflicting feelings about the time the team building takes.
  • If several levels of management are on the team, those members may be reluctant to open up.
  • Conducting team building activities electronically or by conference cannot be as effective face-to-face sessions.
  • Some team building exercises involve touching or physical movement, which can make some people uncomfortable.

Team-Building Activities That Won’t Make People Cringe

There are many choices of activities and techniques to foster team building.  Which you choose depends upon your assessment of the team, the skill sets of the members, the amount of available time, geographical considerations or constraints, and the team’s objectives. 

Choosing a Location for Team-Building

A team building session can be intense, and often involves games or other physical exercises.  It's important, therefore, to select the location carefully to promote the best possible learning outcome.  Regardless of whether you hold your team building session on or off site, there are some important considerations to explore.

What to Do When Team Building Activities Go Wrong

Even if we create excellent team building programs and training plans, as facilitators we also recognize that a game or activity that worked with one team may not work with another. In order to be comfortable that you have selected the best activities, consider the following:

  • Avoid activities that would annoy you if you were a participant.
  • Adjust the length and type of activity to suit the length of the team building session. A one-day workshop may or may not benefit from a 45 minute icebreaker at the beginning; a five or ten minute icebreaker is probably just fine. However, if your team is taking part in a three to five day workshop and the outcomes improve when participants get to know one another really well, then an extensive game of up to an hour is appropriate.
  • Know your audience. Senior staff does not usually want to look silly or foolish in front of their subordinates. Junior staff may not be comfortable looking silly in front of their boss.
  • If participants arrive in business clothes, they may not be comfortable with really active games. If your session will be highly active or calls for casual clothes, make sure that participants know that ahead of time.
  • Participants who work together may know each other very well will find some exercises redundant. Be selective about the team building activities that you choose.
  • Learning dealing with personal development subjects such as communication or team building will benefit from games more so than training that relates to computer software, for example. The software group, however, might really need one or even several short energizers throughout the day to maintain motivation levels as well as retention.

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Why Reviewing is an Important Part of Team Building Activities

Reviewing is an important part of any team building activity or learning program. It is a point in the activity session where you can connect the dots, confirm the learning with the team and consolidate any information that they may have taken on board during the team building activity.

There can be many positive results from reviewing during a team building activity, including highlighting any learning points for the team to take on board for the remainder of the session and setting progressive goals for the team.

Reviewing Energizes the Team Building Activity

The more fun someone is having then the more they will learn from it. Reviews allow participants to holistically look back on the team building activity and offer a dynamic approach to learning – whereby learning can be made obvious through fun and stimulating methods.

Reviewing Enriches the Team Building Experience

Reviewing can encourage people to notice more about themselves, others and their surroundings. By team members, valuing their experiences more, they will increase in confidence and build a better rapport with others. By knowing a review is coming up, participants may also start anticipating the review and think about the team building activity and any other potential review material.

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Step by Step Guide to Deliver Great Team Building Activities

The following is a guide that will help you deliver effective team building activities that encourage teamwork, communication, creative thinking, problem solving, decision making, time management, trust and support. It takes you step by step through each phase of the team building activity, from selecting the appropriate exercise to reinforcing the learning outcomes.

Step 1 – Select Team Building Exercises Appropiate to Your Team

To select the right exercises you must understand the purpose of the team building event and identify learning objectives. The age, ability and any physical limitations of the team members also need to be taken into consideration. Select a number of team building exercises that suite the group and venue, and that will help you achieve your learning objective.

Step 2 – Prepare For Your Team Building Activity

Go through the activity notes and gather any equipment or learning materials. Practice presenting the team building exercises to gain a better understanding of the activity and identify potential problems. Set up the activity area at the team building venue and identify and remove any hazards or potential safety issues.

Step 3 – Introduction and Explanation of the Team Building Activities

Introduce yourself to the group, discuss the importance of teamwork and the learning objectives of the team building activities. Introduce the team building exercise and outline the rules of the exercise. Obtain feedback to ensure that the team understands the activity and clarify the instructions. Provide the team with the equipment needed for the activity.

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Quick Team Building Activities That Are Easy to Set Up

Team building activities motivates and brings your team together. These activities teach your team members to work together and communicate clearly and effectively. There are numerous team building activities that target different outcomes which will benefit your team immensely. In this article, we will be sharing with you some quick and easy to set up activities that will get your team working together and communicating effectively.

The Magic Carpet
All you need for this team building activity is a large piece of cloth. The size of the cloth will depend on the size of the group participating in the activity. Get each member of the group to stand on the piece of cloth. The group needs to work as a team to turn over the piece of cloth (the carpet) while they are standing on it. They have to turn over the cloth without any body part touching the floor.

Marble Run
For this team building activity,  you will need four short dowel sticks and a marble. Set up a starting point and a finishing goal. The object of this activity is to roll the marble from the starting point to the finishing goal using the four dowel sticks. If the marble falls to the ground at any time, the team has to start again.

What is the Difference?
Divide your team into two groups of equal amounts and ask them to face each other. One line is told to turn around, and the other team is given 40 seconds to change five to ten things about themselves. They can change their jewelry, swap clothing items, untie shoelaces, and change their hair or anything else that the other team can see. When 40 seconds are over, the line that was turned around can turn back again and try and find all the changes that were made. After all the changes have been recognized, the other line gets a turn to make the changes.

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Choosing The Right Types of Activities for Your Team Building Event

our team will expect that team building activities will be stimulating, interesting, and yes, fun. That does not mean that the facilitator has to be a comedian, but it does obligate you to incorporate some activities into your team building event that helps to engage your team members.

Planned team building activities will bring the following elements to your training:

  • Keeps the day moving at a stimulating pace
  • Fun helps to bring people together and break down barriers
  • Laughter leads to an endorphin release, which is healthy
  • Improves retention of material by providing hands on application and practice

In order to fully involve your team members, make sure that you preface activities with a discussion about safety. Let them know that what takes place in the team building sessions stays in there, so that they are encouraged to take risks, challenge previously held assumptions, and make mistakes and learn from them.

Choosing the right activity is very important.One sign of a good facilitator is someone who knows how to choose and even modify an activity to fit certain situations. A good resource library of activities is important so that you don’t find yourself re-using the same activities and tiring of them, or exposing them to people over and over, especially if you are an in-house fcilitator developing workshops for the same people.

The following list is a handy reference of the types of activities that can be the right fit for your training. Although some of the headings may overlap, the definitions are here to give you a better understanding of the range of activities that can be used.

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More Team Building Articles

Defining a Successful Team
Types of Teams
The Forming Stage of Team Development
The Storming Stage of Team Development
The Norming Stage of Team Development
The Performing Stage of Team Development
Making the Most of Team Meetings
Solving Problems as a Team
Encouraging Teamwork
History of Team Building
Team Building Coordinators and Facilitators 
Benefits of Team Building
Types of Team Building Excercises
Team Building Methods
What is Team Building?