Chapter 4

The 12 Best Team Building Exercises

Check out our handy guide to the best team beam building exercises that you can try out today with your colleagues.

According to business coach Dr. Carl Robinson, one of the most important aspects of any high-performing team is that each individual is able to feel like safely offer their opinions, challenge one another, and, most importantly, give each other praise.

This can be difficult to do when you’re in a large group and it can be easy to feel like you’re another face in the crowd.

But with a small group, you can encourage a level of interaction and engagement that would be impossible to achieve if you had a dozen or more people together.

To quickly create that sense of familiarity and cohesion within your team, try out these following team building exercises designed specifically for smaller teams.

1. Who am I?

Objective: Communication Skills & Team Bonding

Duration: 30 minutes to 1 hour

How to play: If you’ve ever seen the Tarantino classic inglourious basterds then you already have an idea of how to play this, only this time it’s without the Nazis, shooting and German accents.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, the rules of the game are very simple. Everyone writes down the name of a well-known figure onto a piece of paper and, without looking at the name, another participant sticks the paper onto their forehead or back.

Once everyone has a character, the aim of the game is to try to figure out who they are asking the group various questions. You can also do a reverse version of this game where everyone knows who their character is and it’s up to the group to try to figure out who it is. Bonus point if you’re able to do an impersonation!

2. “What if…” scenarios

Objective: Creative Problem Solving

Duration: 20 to 40 minutes

How to play: “What if” scenarios have long been a favorite team building activity for many business leaders and managers because they’re great at getting everyone talking and apply their creative thinking skills at the same time.

These types of games always work best when you’re able to present a truly strange hypothetical situation and after everyone is relaxed and has comfortable with sharing their opinions, no matter how outrageous.

A popular version of this game is the “Sinking Boat” scenario, where participants are invited to imagine themselves on a sinking boat with a variety of people (like a doctor, a parent, a teacher and a sports star for example) and are challenged with figuring out who they would save first. Everyone is then given a couple of minutes to discuss what they’d do and why.

Another great version of this game is the “Stranded Island” scenario, in this case, everyone is (as the name suggests) stranded on an island and they’re all allowed to bring one office item with them to survive. The group then has to role-play out what they would do and how’d they work together.

To make it even more fun, go the Lost route and keep on introducing even more random events and scenarios that they have to adapt to like the sudden appearance of a polar bear or a smoke monster.

3. Pay it forward

Objective: Team Bonding & Confidence Building

Duration: 10 to 30 minutes

How to play: As human beings, we are naturally wired to crave recognition and appreciation for our accomplishments, especially in the workplace. According to Work.com, 78% of workers say that being recognized by their peers is one of the primary motivators when it comes to working. But it can be very hard to find the space to give someone a thoughtful compliment, no matter how much they may deserve it.

This is when this particular team building activity comes in handy, and is highly recommended for anyone looking to increase the level of camaraderie and intimacy amongst their team.

All you have to do is gather everyone in a circle and have them look the person to the right. From there, everybody is tasked with writing three positive things about that person and they can range from anything from a joke they may have made to how they performed a particular task.

Once everyone has written their note, give the whole group a few minutes to read their note and to think about what the other person has said in silence.

As simple as this activity is, this is extremely powerful in bringing people together by giving them a space to practice gratitude, appreciate each other’s strengths, and feel like they’re being valued by their peers.

4. Minefield

Objective: Communication Skills & Improving Collaboration

Duration: 30 to 45 minutes

How to play: To play this game, all you need is an empty conference room or hallway, a couple of blindfolds and a collection of random items.

One person is blindfolded and they’re tasked with making it the other side of the room without touching any of the items that are scattered around the floor.

The rest of the team have to verbally guide the player to the objective without setting off any of the “mines.”

5. Spectrum mapping

Objective: Communication Skills & Confidence Building

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

How to play: Not only does this activity give people a chance to flex their creativity muscles and give people a space to speak up and share their ideas, but you might even unearth a whole heap of ideas on how to improve your business.

All you need are several pads of sticky notes, pens and a whiteboard. Start off by writing on the whiteboard a topic that’s related to your business that you want a diverse range of opinions and ideas on.

This can be anything from;

  • “Next product the company should develop” to
  • “What can we do to improve the workplace?”

Set a two-minute timer and have everyone back to back drawing or writing down as many ideas as they possibly can.

Once the time is up, go around the room and have each person present their list of ideas and stick it onto the whiteboard.

When everyone has placed their ideas, work together as a group to see if you can group certain ideas together under a single category or arranging all the sticky notes in a horizontal line based on how similar the ideas are to each other.

As a team building activity, spectrum mapping is fantastic in giving people the space to speak up and share their ideas without fear of criticism.

For the business, this can be a powerful way to find out what employees are thinking and discover some unconventional ideas you may have never even thought about before.

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Conclusion