Time and again, we emphasize the importance of organizational culture on the well-being, productivity, and happiness of an employee. What is the one thing that people love about their jobs? Well multiple studies prove that it is their peers! So, if you truly want people to love coming to work every day, why not abridge gaps within your team, department, or even the entire organization. Here are some amazing team building activities to get you started.
The Ultimate List of Team Building Activities
Given the number of hours we stay at work, our colleagues are literally our second families. This is one of the best team building activities that help employees relive shared memories and share a laugh or a moment of fondness. The idea behind this activity is that a “memory wall”, a literal one, reaffirms the cordial relationships between team members and creates a welcoming and warm ambiance. Teams, or employees, are encouraged to draw or sketch their memories of other colleagues and place them on a wall. Rendering each memory as a drawing or a picture adds camaraderie to this activity and fosters a sense of friendliness. This is how you go about it:
- Each member is provided with markers, pencils, paper and tape
- Have employees sit around in a room. Each employee surveys the room, looking at their co-workers to conjure up memories they have of them. They get 15 minutes to pen down any happy and positive memory while working with co-workers.
- Once they have accumulated a list of memories, have them sketch a few of these scenarios on sheets of papers. The drawings don’t have to be from Picasso, they could be abstract renditions of the memories. They can seek help from other people who share the memory to create this drawing. This takes a maximum of 30 minutes.
- Ask all participants to tape their sketches on the wall.
- Ask each participant to come forward and elaborate on their sketch and narrate the back-story behind the memory scene in front of their co-workers.
The greatest advantage of employing a diverse workforce is that you can get a wider perspective on any topic. Organizing all those diverse perspectives on any subject into a spectrum can help you benefit from the diversity of opinions within a team and lets you unearth innovative ideas. Sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes. You will be surprised at the unconventional flow of ideas trickling in. Team building activities like this encourage laid-back and introvert employees to speak up and express their views, instead of being silent observers. Here is how it works:
- Before bringing the team together, identify a few topics that you want to collect opinions and insight on.
- Write down the topic inside a circle on a whiteboard. Encourage the participants to write down their views and opinions pertaining to the topic on sticky notes and post them around the topic, like bubbles of ideas.
- Let everyone chime in, even multiple times and then organize the notes to group similar ideas together and outlying ideas under a separate group. Lay out ideas in a spectrum, with the least popular or least viable ideas to the extreme left, working towards the best ideas to the right.
Salt and Pepper
This activity focuses on enhancing the communication skills of employees. Think up a name of well-known pairs, such as salt and pepper, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and so on. Take small pieces of paper and write one half of each pair on separate sheets of paper, such as peanut butter on one and jelly on the other. Tape one piece of paper on each employee’s back. Watch as employees roam around the room, trying to figure out the word plastered to them. Here’s the tricky part; they can only yes and no questions from their teammates. As soon as they figure out their word, they have to go find their other half. Let employees pair together this way and find at least three things they have in common with their partner. Repeat this activity a couple of times to let employees get to know each other better.
Encourage your employees to present their own “pitch” in front of a mock “shark Tank of investors. Thanks to the show, people seem to love this pitch format, and this gives team members a chance to play t entrepreneurship and work together in groups. You as the manager, get to be an ‘investor’ and choose the best idea. This activity is best for promoting teamwork, entrepreneurship and collaboration. Here is how it goes:
- Participants are divided into teams of 2-6 people. Ask them to think up an idea for an imaginary product, do their research, and craft a compelling pitch for it. Make sure the pitch is original and professional, including the brand name, slogan, business plan, marketing plan, and financial data. Handover the pitch requirements to each candidate or play clips from the show “Shark Tank” to make sure everyone understands the rules.
- Choose a few senior members to act as the “sharks”. To make it believable, give them imaginary backgrounds and an imaginary pool of money to invest in pitched ideas.
- Each team has to develop their pitch and present their pitch in front of the sharks. While the sharks have to interrogate like their own money depends on it and be as inquisitve as possible as if they are evaluating a real business. If they see a promising pitch, they can consider investing mock money into it.
- The team that secures the highest investment wins.
Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower
These types of tea, building activities encourage collaboration and problem-solving. To begin, divide your employees into teams, and provide each team with 1 marshmallow, 1 yard of string, 1 roll of masking tape, and 20 sticks of raw spaghetti. The teams compete for constructing the tallest tower, using only these supplies. The tricky part is that the marshmallow has to sit at the top of the tower, and your tower has to stand unsupported for at least 5 seconds for you to win. Not only is it a challenging and fun game, it encourages your employees to come up with out-of-the-box solutions and work together to solve problems.
Similar to its peer above, this exercise encourages collaboration and problem solving. Provide a set of construction material to each team, and you will also need an electric fan. In this make-believe activity, your employees are transported far, far away to the Arctic region as explorers. Each team chooses a leader to lead the expedition. While trekking across the frozen Tundra, a raging howling storm hits. Since there’s no way to reach their base in time, the teams must hurriedly erect a make-shift emergency shelter to survive.
Here’s the catch; unfortunately, the leaders of all the teams get frostbite, due to which they can’t do any physical work with the team. On the other hand, the team members are blinded by snow and can’t see a thing (blindfolded in real life). The team captains can only guide these blinded workers vocally. Construct your shelter before the time runs out. Once the timer stops, turn on the electric fan to see who built the sturdiest shelter that will stand the wrath of the raging winds, and they win. Amp up the challenge by having the fan running at full while the team works but provide sturdier materials.
Don’t be scared of the ensuing mess. This classic team building activity is high on engagement and collaboration and unites employees on creative problem solving. The idea is to challenge teams to contrive an egg package/carrier that can protect an uncooked egg for at least a 2-story drop. Provide basic construction material to both teams, including newspapers, rubber bands, balloons, plastic, tape and straws, and the activity lasts about 1-1.5 hours. The team whose egg survives the fall, wins.
For this creative problem-solving activity, you need to get a picture book authored by Istvan Banyai, titled “Zoom”. The wordless book features 30 sequential pictures that form a narrative together. Hand out one random picture to each employee. Each employee can only look at their picture and not anyone else’s and keep it hidden from other participants. Give each employee some time to scrutinize their illustration diligently and try to extract the key pieces of information which will help them put together the pictures in the right sequence.
While the participants cannot reveal their picture to anyone else, they can discuss the contents of their pictures and try to figure out the sequence this way. The ultimate goal is to place the pictures in sequential order without looking at anyone else’s picture. This activity brings coworkers together and gets them communicating with the common goal of solving a problem. Not to mention, it encourages leaders to emerge and take control of the task.
If you are a fan of the famous 1960’s gameshow, concentration, here’s our professional spin on it. The original gameshow put 30 numbered tiles up on a board. Each tile had an identical tile somewhere on the board. What made them identical were the matching prizes on the back. As participants flipped over more tiles over time, they would be better able to remember what was under which tile and would select tiles that matched, thus winning the prize at the back. To make this game sync with your business, why not put company names, brands, slogans, and logos on the back of tiles and have players match brands. As your business grows, why not put the names of your own products, employees, and job titles on the backs of your tiles to see how well your coworkers know the company they work for.
Truth and Lies
You will be amazed how such simple tea, building activities can get people to open up. Team members can collaborate in an intimate environment where each participant has to utter 4 statements: three truths and one lie about themselves. People have to guess at the lie. This breaks the ice and get the people to know themselves better. Have your team members sit around in a circle. Turn by turn, each person has to stand at the center of the circle and tell one lie and three truth about himself. The rest of the group has to pick out the lie. Repeat for each participant. In contrast to the other activities listed above, this game has no competitive element to it. Instead, it is meant as an ice breaker to get employees to get to know each other beyond the professional circle. The opportunity to lie adds a fun element to the game as some of the statements can get outrageously hilarious, letting everyone enjoy a good laugh.
Hole in Many
Looking for fun and simple team building activities that involve the entire team physically?
The game involves the team balancing a tennis ball on a tarpaulin with holes cut into it randomly. Unless the entire team works together and coordinate, there is no chance at acing it. To begin, grab a few tennis balls and pieces of tarpaulin and divide participants into groups of 4-8 people. Each team has to hold the piece of tarp stretched out between them. Cut a hole into the tarp. On the count of three, drop a ball on each tarp. The team has to balance their tarp as long as possible so that the ball won’t fall through the hole. The team that holds out the longest, wins the race. To increase the difficulty level of the game, punch more holes into the tarp. You can also grab additional tarps and get all teams to do this activity at the same time, timing their performance along the way.