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Want to add some fun to your meetings and build team rapport at the same time? Try incorporating team building exercises into your next meeting. Based in problem solving of a light hearted nature, the purpose is to get your team working together, laughing together and most importantly, learning more about each other. Team building exercises help to personalize our co-workers. Jack Welch, often touted as one of the best leaders of the last quarter century, says that creating an informal work environment is one of the keys to business success. "If you take the stiffness out of it," Welch said in an MSNBC interview, "you get down to people dealing with people."
Below are a few exercises to help in your teambuilding efforts. Most of these exercises can be completed in less than 20 minutes, and require few or no props.
For New Teams
If you have a new company or team, focus on activities that will help your group learn about each other.
What White Lie?
This is a very basic "getting to know you" exercise with a slight competitive twist. Start with everyone in your group writing down two truths about themselves and one lie. Go around the room and have each person read their list of statements. Have the team vote on which statement in the list is the lie. The person who gets the fewest votes for their lie wins. It may sound like a game of deceit, but in the process you've learned a lot about each other. If your team is large, save time by breaking into smaller groups and having the winners represent their group in a winner's challenge.
Create bingo cards with squares that contain information that relates to members of your team. The information can be as generic or specific as you like. General rules of Bingo apply. To fill in a square you must find a team member who fits the description listed and have the team member sign the square. A team member cannot sign more than two squares on any one card. Squares can contain personal information that you know about specific individuals such as: speaks Japanese, has two dogs and one cat. Or more generic information that may apply to many team members like: is the oldest child, has lived in another country.
(Tools: string cut into 20 inch pieces)
This challenge is done in pairs and is a mind-bender. Before the meeting tie large loops into the ends of the strings. Each string should look like a set of handcuffs. Have one team member put his cuffs on and hold his arms out. The second team member has to run his string through the circle created by his teammate's arms and cuffs before he puts on his cuffs. The two are now cuffed together. The challenge is to become uncuffed without removing your wrists from your cuffs or cutting the string. It is challenging but can be done. It will take good communication and strategic thinking. To see a visual of the solution along with other teambuilding exercises that only require a shoestring check out www.teachmeteamwork.com.
For Established Teams
If your team has worked together for a while, try using group problem solving exercises or trivia based games to build team spirit.
Game Show Gambit
Test your team's knowledge of your company, industry or their co-workers by hosting mini game shows. Jeopardy, Password or a basic trivia format work well. This will require some creative thinking and planning on your part but will be informative and fun for your co-workers. Consider using small teams versus individual contestants. If you are really creative this can become an ongoing team challenge where points build from meeting to meeting. Prizes can be awarded at the end of the Game Show Challenge so that the teams have something to work for.
Tied Up in Knots
This activity has your teammates trying to get out of a human knot. Begin with your group standing in a circle facing each other. Have everyone reach in with their right hand to shake the hand of someone else in the circle. Keeping their right hands clasped, everyone reaches in with their left hand and shakes the hand of a different member of the circle. Without letting go of either hand, ask the group to "unknot" themselves. They may think you are crazy at first, but after a few seconds they will realize that by stepping over, ducking under and turning around they will be able to unfold the mess they have created. It will take communication and, of course, team work. Ten is an ideal group size for this exercise. If your group is bigger divide into teams (7-16 people per circle) and make it a timed activity.
Talking in Circles
(Long piece of string tied in circle)
This group exercise focuses on good communication. Place everyone in a circle around the string. Have everyone grasp the string with both hands and hold the string waist high. Without letting go, the team will have to form shapes with the string; a square, a triangle, a figure eight, a rectangle, etc. But they will have to do this with their eyes shut! This will require everyone to communicate clearly and listen well. Make the shapes progressively harder and periodically have them stop and open their eyes to see their progress...or lack there of.
(Tool: Long, thin pole)
The theme for this exercise is to relax. A tent pole can be used for this challenge, but really any long thin pole will do. Be sure to call the pole a "Helium Stick" when you introduce the exercise. Place your group in two lines facing each other. Have each person hold the index finger of their right hand chest high. Place the helium stick on top of the outstretched fingers. The challenge is to lower the stick to the ground while keeping everyone's fingers touching the stick. If anyone's finger looses contact with the helium stick you must start again. At first the stick will seem to rise (hence the name Helium Stick). In fact, it is simply the upwards pressure of everyone's fingers causing the stick to go up instead of down. Once everyone relaxes they can easily lower the stick to the ground. This usually takes ten minutes of laughter to complete.
For Teams with Deeper Pockets
Of course, there are a host of companies out there that will charge you to facilitate team building workshops in your offices. Others offer facilities complete with rope courses and mud pits. But for a new spin on corporate play check out The Go Game. This innovative company uses high tech gadgets, professional actors and your own city's hot spots to create adventures tailor made for your team. Employees are given missions that (if they choose to accept them) send them scavenger-style across their city where they communicate with each other through web-enabled cell phones. Depending on your company's location the cost runs about $100 per person. Prices are lower if you are in an established "game zone."
Recommends thisLooks like a good list of teambuilding activites. I think I might try the two truths one like one in class.