In any kind of work environment, teams that know each other on a personal level tend to have more effective and productive working relationships. It may be challenging to take time away from business to do team building activities, but many quick exercises can help build personal connections in the workplace. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of team building and present 10 five-minute team-building exercises you can use to get to know your team.
Team-building activities are games or other interactions that boost personal connections between employees in the workplace. There are a variety of activities, but most involve a high level of personal interaction where team members tell each other personal details, work together to complete a fun task or compete against each other in a friendly contest. Companies can host many activities in the workplace, but employees can also go around the community to complete tasks. For example, a scavenger hunt could require teams to find various items around town based on clues the game organizer leaves for them.
The goal of team-building activities is to build rapport between colleagues so they promote trust and friendship that becomes a strong working relationship. Team-building exercises also provide break time from work, helping employees feel rested and recharged to complete their other duties. Companies that regularly conduct team-building games may find that their workplace has more effective communication and a relaxed atmosphere. These activities can also enrich the individual team members by developing their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
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Coworker BingoNever Have I EverWho Am I?Game of PossibilitiesTwo Truths and a LiePirate’s TreasureThe MinefieldWinner/LoserWould You Rather?Purpose Mingle
As with regular Bingo, you’ll create a card with five columns and five rows. Leave a “free space” in the center, and fill the rest with interesting facts teammates can reveal about themselves. For instance, you could have boxes for “Has visited Asia,” “Doesn’t like chocolate” or “Has more than three siblings.” Ask each team member to go around the room and get their colleagues to initial squares that apply to them. To fit into the five-minute limit, you could make a smaller game card or set a timer and announce that whoever has the most squares filled is the winner. This game allows employees to learn each other’s names in a quick span of time, with the bonus of learning personal details that can build familiarity and make their working relationships more effective.
In this game, have all team members stand in a circle. Each person will have a turn to say one common activity or life experience that they’ve never done. For example, one employee may say “Never have I ever learned to play an instrument” or “Never have I ever watched a black-and-white movie.” After the game, team members who have done those activities can discuss their experiences with those who haven’t. This game will build familiarity among coworkers and could encourage them to try new life experiences.
Start by distributing note cards to all of your team members. Have them write the name of a famous or historically important person on the card, or if your team is already familiar with each other, they could write colleagues’ names. Have the employees swap cards without looking at them and tape them to their heads. They will then ask questions to get clues to help them guess the name on the card.
For instance, a player’s card could say “Geraldine in the payroll department.” The player might start by asking “Is this person famous?” When they receive a “no” answer, they could move on to “Does this person work in the office?” and so on until they attempt to guess the person’s identity. This game could last for a long duration if the whole team plays together. However, you could complete it in five minutes or fewer if employees play in pairs or teams of three. This game encourages creativity and critical thinking and can also help reveal important personal details about coworkers.
To start this game, first, collect several random objects from around the office, ideally one or two per team member. When it is each participant’s turn, hand them an object, which they will have to act out an alternative use for. For instance, a participant could take a stapler and act as if they were using it for salad tongs or chopsticks. Without the participant speaking, the other team members must guess the alternate use of the object. Requiring employees to imagine new applications for familiar items can help develop ingenuity in the workplace.
Gather all of your team members in a circle and have them take turns telling three “facts” about themselves. One of the pieces of information, however, must be a lie. One person, for instance, might say “I am right-handed,” “I went to space camp in middle school” and “I play drums in a jazz band.” Their colleagues would then have to guess which of the items was false. This game can help build interpersonal connections by revealing character traits or hobbies that your team members have in common.
For this game, select a participant to sit blindfolded in a chair. This person is the “pirate.” Place a random object underneath the chair and have the other team members try to grab it without the pirate noticing. If the pirate points in the person’s direction or tags them, they’re out and must switch places with the pirate. You can play this game for any duration by allowing all office members to have a turn. You could also play for a few minutes by setting a timer and naming either the pirate or another team member the winner, depending on who ends up with the treasure. This game displays physical skill and may be ideal for a workplace that uses more physical labor.
Start by placing random obstacles around the workplace, and designate one location as the finish line. These will be your “mines.” Select a volunteer to be blindfolded and two or three other team members to act as guides. The guides’ job is to use only voice commands to lead the blindfolded employee around the obstacles to the finish line.
If you have a large office, you could select a few volunteers and divide the guides into teams of two to four. You could award a prize to any team who gets to the finish line or use a stopwatch and give the prize to whoever finishes in the shortest time. Following the guides’ instructions can help build trust among team members, which can strengthen collaboration skills.
For this game, divide your team into pairs. Each member will take turns stating a challenging experience they’ve had in their career. After everyone has had a chance to share with their partner, bring the whole team back together. Go around the room and have each employee describe their partner’s experience using only positive terms.
For instance, one employee might say that they had to sit in a traffic jam while driving to a sales call. Their partner might describe it more positively by saying that the delay allowed the individual time to listen to audiobooks about sales techniques that they applied in the meeting. The ability to see the positive aspects of any situation can build optimism and motivation in your team.
Begin by thinking of a series of random “Would you rather?” questions, for instance, “Would you rather attend an opera or a football game?” or “Would you rather eat pancakes or cereal for breakfast?” Divide the room in half with a piece of tape, write each answer possibility on a notecard and place them on opposite sides of the tape. When you call out the question, each employee will jump to the side that corresponds to their answer. You can repeat this with other questions for however long you want the game to last. Knowing each other’s answers can also show teams what they have in common and allow them to build friendships based on their mutual interests.
This game is ideal before a meeting or group project. Have each employee decide what they most want to contribute to the meeting, then have them go around to various teammates and give their answer briefly. This could include “Take detailed notes in the conference” or “Help decide a sales plan for the upcoming quarter.” Having team members participate in this game before important tasks can increase their motivation and teamwork so they complete the project most effectively.
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