Working in a great team can make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction and organizational success. But even with the best intentions, it’s not sufficient to simply bring a group of people together and expect great teamwork to happen on it’s own. Team building activities can prove to be the missing link that will take your group or organization to the next level!
Building a highly effective team takes effort, consideration, and the deployment of a thoughtful group process. Remember that teams are composed of relationships between people and all relationships need care and attention. Some of the team building activities below are a great place to start!
That said, some employees may bristle or cringe at the mention of team building and with good reason. Done badly, team building at work can be unimaginative, unproductive, or a waste of time for all involved.
We’ve put together a collection of proven team building activities, games, and exercises that cover everything from communication and collaboration to alignment and vision.
Whether you’re working in a small team or as part of a large organization, taking the time to develop your team and enable everyone in your group to do their best work is time well spent. Let’s take a look!
- What is team building?
- Team building icebreakers and fun energizers
- Get to know you games for new teams
- Activities for team collaboration
- Activities to improve team alignment
- Problem solving team building activities
- Activities to clarify team values and vision
- Checkout and recap activities for your team building workshop
- Team building workshop templates
Team building is an activity or process designed to help build connections between members of a team, create lasting bonds, and enable better teamwork and working practices. Team building might include running team games and activities, holding group discussions, hosting away days or simply doing things together as a team.
The main purpose of any team building activity is on improving communication, collaboration, alignment, team values, motivation and anything else that can enable a group to work together more effectively. It might also include resolving conflicts, sharing skills, or simply bringing your group together in a shared experience.
Broadly speaking, any team building effort should be designed to help bring your team closer or find ways to first define and then move towards your shared goals as a group.
As Forbes notes, team building is “most important investment you can make for your people.” When you start thinking of how to improve team building in your organisation, always consider how the activity, exercise or initiative relates back to these key points.
Team building is valuable for organisations of any size, especially as they grow and change. The bonds, connections and trust you create as a team are a large part of what keeps everyone engaged and happy at work. Team building helps you surface and deal with challenges, speak openly and honestly, and create change that everyone on a team can be proud of.
Team building activities are games and exercises that help a group collaborate on a shared goal, discuss important issues constructively, share in a fun experience or find better ways of working together. These activities can take many shapes and sizes, and can be a small part of a larger process or even take the form of a team development workshop.
The common denominator is that any good team building activity brings a group together, creates deeper connections, and enables more effective teamwork.
Before you can meaningfully bring your team together, it’s worth acknowledging that not all activities work for every group and you should choose your methods based on the specific aspects of team building you want to work on. Thankfully, our list of great team building activities below can help!
The benefits of team building activities include better communication, improved relationships, team bonds, more effective working practices and workplace happiness. While effective team building sessions can have immediate benefits in aligning a team, they can also help ensure the strength and longevity of any group.
Building a strong organizational culture and improving job satisfaction often begins at the level of the team, and so spending time to make teams happier and more productive is worth every minute. Here are some of the key benefits of running a team building exercise.
Mutual trust is a vital ingredient for any group of people working together, though it doesn’t always emerge organically. Team building games are a great way of building team bonds and creating trust between individuals. Whether it’s getting to know you activities or more involved sharing exercises, these processes are often designed to expressly create better team bonds. You might also find that team building activities that guide a group through solving a problem together can help create the kinds of bonds that enable better teamwork in the future.
Making impactful and lasting change often asks that a group all rally behind a common goal or purpose. Without a cohesive and engaged team, it can be difficult to make meaningful change and ensure that everyone is helping push those changes in the right direction. If you’re finding that making organizational changes is difficult or isn’t followed through on, consider whether your team is aligned, happy and cohesive: maybe it’s time to run a team building day and bring everyone together!
Working productively with others is all about effective communication. Team building activities and games often focus on helping groups and individuals more clearly articulate their needs, empathize and listen actively and thoughtfully. You’ll also find that team building games that centre on solving problems or challenges demands creative and effective communication. By using these kinds of activities as a sandbox for wider organizational challenges, you can help guide a group towards better communication and working practices.
It’s easy to underestimate how ineffective teams or challenge groups can affect individual happiness and job satisfaction. Getting to know the other people in your team while having fun or solving problems can help bring a group together and improve interpersonal relationships.
By working on these aspects of teamwork, you can not only improve how a group functions but help everyone on the team feel more connected and happy in their work. For best results, Mind Tools recommends making team building a priority and including it as part of your group work as often as possible.
Whether it’s a new or established team, it’s always good practice to include a team icebreaker at the beginning of a teambuilding session. Not only does this help a team set off on the right foot, but it sets the tone for the team building meeting to come.
It can be especially useful to inject fun and laughter into any team building activities for work: bringing team members out of their shells and loosening them up can help prevent existing hierarchies or team structures from affecting the team building session.
You can use these team building energizers and icebreakers to kickoff your session, or when the energy levels drop and you need to get your team engaged for the team workshop ahead. Let’s take a look.
Having fun and energizing your team is a great way to kick off your team building. Bang is a simple and effective team building game that encourages quick reactions and fun – perfect for both new and established teams!
Start by electing a sheriff and having the rest of the group stand in a circle around them. The sheriff spins around and points at one person in the circle and says “bang!” That person then crouches as quickly as possible. The two people on either side of the person crouching must quickly point at each other and shout the other’s name. Whoever does not react quick enough is eliminated.
Creating a secret handshake was something many of us did as kids. This team building activity taps into that same sense of creativity and also encourages team members to get to know each other while sharing and building on their handshake in pairs. By moving between pairs and teaching others the steps of your handshake, this also helps create group closeness and cohesion. We love team building activities or office games that encourage people to bring a little of themselves to the table and Build-a-Shake is a great example of that!
Simple tasks that require team focus, cohesion, and awareness are great for any group working on team building. In Count Up, a team has to come together and count up to twenty with their eyes closed and without any other communication. People cannot say more than one number at a time, and if two people speak at the same time, the group must start over.
Though it seems simple, this team building exercise can really demonstrate the power of effective teamwork and is a great opener for a team building workshop.
Finding common ground and shared experiences across a diverse group is what team building is all about. In this playful team building activity, participants are encouraged to cross the circle in response to questions posed by a person in the middle. For example, “Cross through the circle if you have worked here more than 5 years.” or “Cross through the circle if you can play an instrument.” After each stage, a new person gets to pose a question and your team gets to know one another and their commonalities in a simple, effective way.
When performing online team building, simple activities are often the best strategy in ensuring participation and removing frustration. Follow the Leader is a great team building energiser suitable for online and offline teams. In virtual settings, put Zoom into gallery view and invite people to perform an action in the frame of their screen that other participants have to follow. Being a little silly is encouraged and this team building exercise often results in laughter and energy as a result!
Creative team building activities are great for breaking the ice or energising a team. In Portrait Gallery, you and your team will collaboratively create portraits of everyone in the group and have a fun, electric set of portraits to display afterwards. Start by splitting your group into two teams. Team B will draw portraits of Team A, though every 10-15 seconds, they’ll pass their current drawing to the next person to continue. By the end of this team building game, you’ll have a set of eclectic portraits for everyone in the group and have broken the ice significantly too!
Fun team building games are a great way to start any group development process, and they’re even better if they energize the team too! Snowball is a great activity for getting people out of their seats and moving around while also breaking the ice.
Start by asking a question relevant to your group and ask each participant to write an answer on a piece of paper. Once that’s done, invite everyone to crumple their paper and come to the centre of the room to have a snowball fight! After a few minutes, ask everyone to keep a snowball and find the person who wrote the answer. Not only does this team building exercise invite energy into the room, but it encourages people to get to know each other too.
Starting the team building process can be difficult, especially if you’re working with a new team who don’t yet know each other well. The team building activities in this section are focused on helping teams get to know each other better and start to develop bonds and trust as a team.
Even if your team has been around a while, learning more about one another and building deeper bonds is useful for both team cohesion and group happiness.
Try these get-to-know-you games to encourage conversation and team building for a new team!
|Team building activity||Length in minutes||Participants||Difficulty|
|3 Question Mingle||30 – 60||2 – 40||Low|
|9 Dimensions Team Building Activity||20 – 60||3 +||Low|
|Awareness Circle||10 – 30||5 +||Low|
|Best and Worst||10 – 15||5 – 10||Low|
|Better Connections||20 – 30||2 – 100||Medium|
|The Four Quadrants Activity||30 – 120||3 +||Low|
|Coat of Arms||40 – 60||6 – 12||Low|
|Group Order||5 – 10||5 +||Low|
|Happiness exercise||10 – 20||4 – 30||Low|
|Just One Lie||15 – 30||5 – 20||Low|
|Life map||30 – 60||3 +||Low|
|Name Juggling||1 – 15||5 +||Low|
|Open Fist||5 – 10||3 +||Low|
|Personal Presentations||60 – 240||2 -40||Medium|
|Telling Our Stories||60 – 120||2 – 40||High|
Conversation is often the best starting point when it comes to team building, but without structure it can be difficult for groups to get moving. In 3 Question Mingle, each team member writes three questions on post-it notes and then has a one minute meeting with another person. They each ask another one question and then trade those post-its. Invite the group to move around the room asking questions in pairs and swapping questions afterwards.
Not only does this team building activity help a team get to know each other, but it also invites the group to ask the questions they want to ask. By combining structure with self direction, you can get your team building workshop off to the right start!
Building better team relationships and improving group dynamics often means sharing something about ourselves and finding space to discuss and be honest. In this team building exercise, give each team member a set of red, green, yellow and blue dots alongside the 9 dimensions you’ll be looking at. Each participant puts a dot on each dimension based on whether they believe they’re crushing it or need to do more work.
By sharing some of their 9 dimensions, your team gets to surface things they’re proud of, as well as those that need work. You’ll explore what your group is aligned on in the debriefing section and then move forward together as a team.
Getting to know people is easier for some members of a group than it is for others. While extroverts can start chatting to new team members with ease, introverts may find it more difficult to bond with their team and create meaningful team bonds. In this team building activity, you’ll encourage a group to get to know each other without speaking and show that everyone in a team has a connection. Another great takeaway from this activity is to take note of the diversity (or lack thereof) in the room and consider this as a point for future team development.
Teambuilding activities are often at their most effective when you ignite the passions of everyone in a group and bring up talking points that enable people to share something of themselves with the team. Best and Worst asks each participant to ask one question about the best and worst thing they want to learn from the group. For example, “What’s the best recipe you know?” or “What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?” After putting all the questions in a hat and choosing a random pair, invite the group to share their answers and related stories.
Teambuilding is all about building stronger relationships and connections between the members of your team. If everyone on your team feels more connected to one another and gets a fuller picture of the other people in the group, the team is much better positioned for success. Team building activities for work can particularly benefit from this kind of approach, and by encouraging people who know each other the least to pair up, Better Connections is a great way to level up your team!
Sometimes pictures are better than words when it comes to helping a team get to know one another. Creative games like this one can also be especially effective at helping introverts or distanced teams share with the group. Start by inviting each participant to draw a 2×2 grid and pose four questions to the group. Each team member draws their answer in one of the grid squares and after a period of individual work, invite the group to share. If you’re looking for a fun team building game that is visual and memorable, look no further!
Even established teams have more to learn about one another, and team building activities that encourage groups to go deeper can be great for helping supercharge your team development process. In Coat of Arms, each team member begins by drawing a personal coat of arms and then sharing it with a partner. The partner interprets the coat of arms and then presents it to the rest of the group. This kind of getting to know you activity taps into group creativity and is a fun way of helping your team bond.
Supporting the get-to-know process at the start of a session or with a new team can be as simple as asking participants to group themselves together based on what they know about each other and inviting them to find out what they don’t. This team building activity requires nothing more than getting your group together in a room and asking them to line themselves up in an order based on a criterion such as distance from home to the workplace, birth date in the calendar year or number of different countries visited. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get people talking and sharing when in pursuit of a common goal.
Good teams know how to appreciate one another and share joyful, happy experiences. When a new team is getting to know each other, using a team building exercise that encourages the sharing of positive stories and experiences not only allows people to connect but also builds a positive atmosphere in the room. You might also use this team building activity at work or with a more established team: if your team has been going through a challenging period, it can be transformational to share things that make everyone happy and defuse stress or tense as a team.
Not all team building games need to reinvent the wheel. Particularly with new teams or groups that aren’t used to team building, keeping it simple with a tried and tested method can be your best bet. Just One Lie is adapted from the well-known icebreaker two truths and a lie, though encourages participants to mingle and share lots of facts about themselves with one another – great for breaking the ice and getting to know one another too!
Both groups and individuals go through many twists, turns and changes throughout their life. At its best, team building not only helps create better teams but allows time for reflection and deeper sharing between participants. With Life Map, encourage your group to draw or create a collage of their life story they can then share with the team. This kind of deeper getting to know your exercise can really help bring a team together and allow for meaningful self-reflection too!
Working with new teams means having new names to learn. Team building starts with getting to know everyone, but how can we make this more fun and dynamic than simple introductions? In this get to know you game, start by having everyone stand in a circle and introduce themselves by name. Introduce a ball and have people state someone’s name before throwing the ball to that person. That person thanks the person who passed the ball by name before then passing the ball on to someone else. Once people get comfortable, spice things up by introducing more balls and trying to keep them in the air!
Finding you have things in common with other team members is one of the cornerstones of effective teamwork. While conversation games or other team building activities might ask for an in-depth approach, Open Fist helps teams bond with a simple, effective activity. Sharing little known facts about ourselves can help teams be more cohesive and by limiting the number of shared facts to the amount of fingers on a hand, this quick team building activity can fit into an agenda with ease.
Team building is all about building trust and openness between teammates. Sharing personal experiences and enlarging the social aspects of the group with presentations not only allows everyone to get to know each other but also encourages team development skills too. For this team building method, ask each participant to prepare a presentation including three things that have shaped who they are as a person. They can use simple drawings and words to visualize their presentation too.
Everyone has a story to tell, though without a framework or guiding principles, surfacing those stories can be tricky – especially for new teams. Team building activities that combine self reflection, sharing and structure are great for helping people to get to know each other deeply. In Telling Our Stories, invite participants to reflect on childhood, young adulthood and today while answering questions on coloured post-its. By sharing from the full gamut of our experiences, your team can get to know one another meaningfully and quickly.
Team work doesn’t always come naturally, and effective team collaboration needs attention, reflection and work in order to happen. It’s not enough to just assume your group will be able to work together efficiently: all teams can benefit from a strategic and well-thought approach to team development and cohesion.
Whether you’re having a team away day or using methods expressly designed to improve collaboration, you’ll find inspiration here!
In this section, we’ll look at team building activities you can use to improve collaboration among team members and building stronger team bonds. Let’s dig in!
|Team building activity||Length in minutes||Participants||Difficulty|
|Conflict Responses||60 – 120||2 – 40||Medium|
|Heard, Seen, Respected (HSR)||35 – 45||4 +||Low|
|Myers-Briggs Team Reflection||60 – 120||2 – 40||Medium|
|Strength Building Exercise||15 +||4 +||Low|
|Strength Envelopes||40 – 60||5 – 40||Low|
|Team of Two||20 +||2 +||Medium|
|Trust Battery||20 – 40||4 +||Low|
|What I Need From You (WINFY)||55 – 70||10 +||Low|
It’s important to remember that every team is made up of individuals and sometimes, conflicts or disagreements can arise. While its regular working practice to disagree, our responses to conflict and how we deal with them when they arise are in our control and can be improved. In this team building exercise, reflect on previous conflicts as a team and collectively create a set of guidelines to use in the future. Resolving team issues effectively is a massive part of team collaboration, and by including the whole team in this process you can get more meaningful results too.
Team empathy is a vital ingredient of good team work though whatever the size of your organization, it can sometimes be difficult to walk in the shoes of others and see things from other perspectives. Heard, Seen, Respected is a team building activity designed to help participants practice deeper empathy for colleagues and build the kinds of bonds and working practices that can improve team collaboration. By inviting participants to notice patterns in the stories shared and find common takeaways, it’s a great way to get everyone involved on the same page.
One potential obstacle to effective team collaboration is when members of the group don’t fully understand one another. Team building activities for work that encourage participants to not only try and understand their colleagues but themselves can be especially helpful when helping a team be more cohesive. In this activity, invite your group to first take a version of the Myers-Briggs personality test. Start by asking each team member to reflect on their own personality type before then moving towards small group discussion.
When using this activity, it’s important to correctly frame the usage of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) framework: This can be a useful framework to understand different communication preferences between people, but people should not be labeled or put into boxes based on their self-reported preferences.
Exercises for team building come in many varieties. In this activity, the emphasis is on the team championing one another and increasing confidence, self esteem and mutual trust. Start by asking each person to share an event where they accomplished something that made them feel good about themselves. The rest of the team chimes in to suggest two to three strengths they must have exhibited in order to achieve the accomplishment. Team collaboration often means helping others on the team achieve their best, and this activity helps the group uplift one another meaningfully and effectively.
All members of a team have unique strengths, capabilities and working preferences. When working as a group, you can improve engagement and group workflow by having each participant utilize their strengths and do work that interests them the most. With this team building activity, ask participants to write their name on an envelope and invite other members of their team to spend a few minutes writing down strength statements for that person. Place these in the envelope and pass them along so at the end of the session, each person has a set full of strengths they can use as the basis for reflection.
Whether you work in a small startup or a multinational organisation, the reality is that a large part of your working day will be spent working in pairs and interacting on a one-to-one basis. Whether in-person, over email or on video chat, finding ways to work together more effectively is vital for effective teams. Try this team building exercise to help empower your groups toward more effective communication and have more meaningful interpersonal relationships at work.
Great teamwork isn’t just about bringing a group of people together into the same space. Without honesty, openness and trust, your team can’t collaborate effectively and can lead to frustration or frazzled relationships. Trust Battery is a team building activity designed to help all members of your group reflect on their trust levels and rebuild those batteries with lower levels. By encouraging all members of a team to meaningfully reflect, you can enable better team collaboration and help your team feel closer and more cohesive too.
Some of the best team building activities focus on helping your group improve their teamwork skills and communicate and collaborate better as a team. A sometimes overlooked part of working as a team is clearly articulating what you need from other people and knowing how to ask for it. What I Need From You is a team building method designed to help your group better articulate their core needs and be transparent with the group. This leads to a more cohesive team that works together with integrity and understanding.
Even the best teams can have differences of opinion and approach. While different viewpoints and perspectives are useful in many situations, it’s also vital that everyone is aligned on core aspects of the team.
Aligning on how the team will work together is an important part of helping the team be happy, productive and pulling in the same direction.
In this section, we’ll look at team work activities to help improve team alignment and get everyone on the same page. Let’s get started!
|Team building activity||Length in minutes||Participants||Difficulty|
|Alignment & Autonomy||60 – 120||2 – 40||High|
|Engineering Your Team OS||60 – 120||2 – 40||Medium|
|Generative Relationships STAR||20 – 25||5 +||Medium|
|Team Canvas Session||90 – 150||2 – 8||Medium|
|Team Self-Assessment||60 – 120||2 – 10||Medium|
Activities that help improve each member of your team work more effectively and feel empowered to operate autonomously can be great for improving employee happiness and productivity. If we feel aligned on the core purpose and goals of our team while also being given the space to work in the way that is right for us, we can improve job satisfaction too!
In Alignment & Autonomy, invite participants to reflect on times when they felt aligned and autonomous versus non aligned and non-autonomous. By sharing, reflecting and then ideating on solutions, your whole group can move forward together.
When seeking to improve team work, it can be useful to think of your team as a system with complex, interlocking parts which may need a gradual refresh and redesign. This kind of abstraction can help prevent discussions from becoming too personal or difficult and ensure that your team alignment efforts are a success. In this activity, your team designs an ideal working system by making aspirational statements and then methodically chooses a single statement to work towards ahead of the next meeting. By making positive changes incrementally, your team can achieve alignment and better working practices in a meaningful and sustainable manner.
Better working relationships start with shared reflection and the discovery and discussion of existing working patterns. This team alignment activity invites participants to assess their team along four vertices: Separateness, Tuning, Action and Reason and jointly shape next steps and future actions. By including the whole team in the alignment process from start to finish, you can get meaningful buy-in and see real results!
Team alignment isn’t always straightforward. The more large, complex or multi discipline your team is, the trickier it can be to help the group mesh and understand their roles and responsibilities to the team and each other. In Team Canvas Session, you and your team create a shared visual resource for understanding and articulating your goals, values and roles of your team. It can be used for general alignment, for onboarding new team members and even for defining the structure and purpose of a brand new team – simply recreate or download the team canvas and get started today!
All groups need to go through a period of reflection and self-assessment in order to grow. But without structure or a guiding framework, these discussions can become bogged down or unproductive. With this reflective team building activity, you can enable a thoughtful and thorough team self-assessment along six guiding dimensions. Start with individual reflection before bringing everyone back together to debrief and see what you’re aligned on and what needs more work. By then narrowing these down to the most important elements, you can align and enable better co-working practices quickly and efficiently!
Team work often comes down to solving collective problems as a group. Whether these are large projects or simply finding better ways to work together on a day-to-day basis, solving problems is something we’ll all be involved in at some stage.
Enabling better team problem solving practices with team building games or by exploring the concepts with an activity can help supercharge your team.
In this section, we’ll look at problem solving team building activities you can use in your next workshop or meeting.
|Team building activity||Length in minutes||Participants||Difficulty|
|Blind Square – Rope Game||40 – 45||4 – 20||Low|
|Crocodile River||60 – 120||10 – 40||Medium|
|Egg Drop||10 – 20||5 +||Low|
|Helium Stick||5 +||5 +||Low|
|LEGO Challenge||60 – 120||10 – 40||Medium|
|Marshmallow Challenge||45 – 60||6 – 100||Medium|
|Spider Web||15 – 30||6 – 20||Low|
|Stress Balls||10 – 15||5 +||Low|
Nothing energizes a team workshop like a seemingly simple problem that also gets everyone moving and engaged. In this team problem solving game, start by tying a length of rope into a circle and invite the participants to plan how to make the rope into a square while blindfolded. After planning time, the group is blindfolded and has ten minutes to form the square. By debriefing afterwards, your group will find communication, planning and attention to detail are all important aspects of team problem solving – all while having fun too!
We love team building activities that challenge the group to work together in inventive ways and also help energize a workshop setting. Crocodile River is a team problem solving exercise that challenges a group to support one another physically as they look to move across a wide outdoor space. By changing the setting and inviting creative and strategic thinking to solve a challenge, your group not only stretches their problem solving muscles but also works on team communication, leadership and cooperation. As with any more abstract team building game, be sure to debrief afterward for best results!
Classic team building games like Egg Drop offer tried and tested ways to encourage teams to solve problems together while improving team communication. In this team problem solving activity, invite small groups to build a freestanding structure that can support the dropping of an egg from seven feet. Include some caveats and challenges to make it more difficult and encourage an even greater degree of team collaboration. Just make sure you bring a mop for afterwards!
Bringing teams together with problem solving activities can perform multiple functions: not only do you encourage teamwork and the building of various team skills but you can have fun and promote laughter too. Helium Stick is an example of a simple team building game that does double duty by encouraging fun, physical activity while introducing and exploring some core team building concepts. Ask the group to lower a long pole to the ground while keeping all of their fingers in contact with the pole at all times – more difficult than it first appears!
Creating something is often the purpose of bringing a team together. Tap into the engaging process of co-creation and collaboration with this team building game using LEGO. Building on the concept of LEGO Serious Play, this exercise is a great way of encouraging out of the box thinking and helping groups find creative approaches to existing problems as a team. Additionally, each team member has a secret assignment which increases the challenge and encourages finding inventive ways to cooperate effectively and achieve both personal and team goals.
Real life challenges are often time sensitive and need to be considered thoughtfully and pragmatically. Team building activities for work are especially effective when they help create this same sense of urgency while encouraging team work. In just eighteen minutes, groups must build the tallest free-standing structure out of materials including: spaghetti, tape, string, and one marshmallow, placing this last item on top. In this version of the team building game, there’s a debriefing section which encourages reflection on the roles of everyone in the team.
Getting outside and doing fun, physical activity can be a great way to bond teams and mix up a normal working routine. In this team problem solving game, participants are asked to work to make holes in a grid of string and rope that can safely and effectively accommodate everyone in the group getting through at once. No one is allowed to touch the string or rope and with diverse groups, the difficulty this presents makes for an interesting challenge for teams to solve.
At one point or another, most teams will be asked to perform effectively under pressure, whether that’s generated by internal or external stressors. By using team building games that help participants work together and communicate effectively even under difficult circumstances you can prepare your team for almost anything! Stress Balls is a fun way to start exploring team resilience and problem solving under pressure, and it’s easy to run with teams of many sizes too!
Building great teams can sometimes happen organically, while other times it needs careful consideration and hard work. When it goes well, one of the simplest routes to building a successful team is by cultivating shared values and vision. If your group shares common ground when it comes to purpose, culture and values, it’s much easier to work effectively as a group and enable everyone to work at their best.
As your team or organization grows, it can be increasingly difficult to have everyone on the same page when it comes to the values, visions and purpose of the group. As such, it’s hugely important to take opportunities to help your team articulate and align on their values and strengthen them as a group.
Let’s take a look at these team building activities to clarify team values and vision.
|Team building activity||Length in minutes||Participants||Difficulty|
|Cover Story||30 – 90||2 – 15||Medium|
|Letter from the Future||60 – 120||6 – 30||Low|
|Team Purpose & Culture||60 – 240||2 – 10||Medium|
Expansive thinking and imagination can play a large part in defining your team values and vision. By thinking up the ideal future state for the organization and envisioning the best possible version of your team and product, you then have touchstones for taking action today. In this creative team building game, invite participants to imagine that your organisation or team has made the front cover of a popular magazine. Ask your team to then populate the future cover story with the best case scenario and add headlines, quotes and images. By then debriefing on common ideas and themes, you can start to move towards realizing that future as a group!
Without a cohesive shared vision, teams can become unproductive or harbor frustration on team direction. By spending time with visioning activities, you can help everyone push in the same direction while still utilizing their unique talents. In Letter from the Future, invite your team to imagine all the changes that might impact them in the next 5 years and write a letter back from that point. Ask your team to cover what’s been accomplished in those five years, and what kind of challenges and obstacles were overcome to make this happen. Remember to remind teams that good letters have a beginning, middle and end and that they should read clearly – this will help during the sharing and debriefing section of this method!
Defining your team’s purpose and culture is an integral part of team building. By clearly articulating why your team exists and how you will all work together to fulfill that purpose, you can align and bring focus to all the work you do. This team values and vision activity aims to create a shared visual resource that your team can refer to in the future. It also uses wisdom from other successful organizations to help enable meaningful conversation and move from individual purpose statements to a single one for the whole team. If you’re looking for a complete process that can guide your team values and vision efforts, this method from Hyper Island is worth a try!
The process of team building and enabling a group to work together more effectively can be involved and exhaustive. As with any group process or workshop, taking the time to reflect, recap and check out can ensure the lasting impact of what was covered in the session.
In this section, we’ll take a look at some great methods for closing a team building session and for recapping the main learning points. Let’s dive in!
|Team building activity||Length in minutes||Participants||Difficulty|
|Appreciations Exercise||10 – 20||6 – 12||Low|
|Check-in / Check-out||5 – 30||2 – 40||Low|
|History Map||60 – 120||2 – 40||Medium|
|One Breath Feedback||5 – 15||2 – 20||Low|
All successful teams are made up of individuals who each bring something to the group. Team building activities that take a moment to appreciate the members of a team and uplift everyone’s mood and outlook can be vital in ensuring the takeaways from the session are carried forward with energy and enthusiasm. This team building method is designed to help everyone in a group receive appreciative feedback on their strengths from others and effectively close a session. Start by sitting the group in a circle and having each participant write their name on a piece of paper and pass it to the person on their left. Each person writes down what they have most valued about the person whose name is on the sheet before passing it along. At the end, share these appreciations and celebrate everyone in the group!
Ensuring everyone in a group is present, focused and committed to the work of a session is a vital ingredient in making a team building session a success. With this workshop method from Hyper Island, you can not only start and end your session the right way, but you can help everyone in your group be seen, heard and understood on both sides of the main work of the session. For the purpose of ending a session, this activity also helps encourage reflection and bring the workshop to an effective close – be sure to give it a try!
Building effective teams is often a process of ideation, reflection and iteration over time. Sometimes, it’ easy to lose sight of all the learning points of a project or consider just how much a team or organization has grown. With this team building exercise, invite your group to reflect and build on their collective experience. It’s a great way of reinforcing major takeaways, celebrating the highlights and creating a sense of closure and progress. By also encouraging the creation of a shared visual resource, History Map also enables creativity and a sense of fun that can provide the perfect end to a project or working session.
In particularly large teams, it can be tempting to forgo the closing activity or individual feedback steps just because it will take so long and it can be hard to maintain energy and interest. One Breath Feedback solves this problem by giving each participant the space of a single breath to check out and reflect on the session. By ensuring that everyone has room to speak and be heard while also placing a time limit on the reflection, you can cap off a team building workshop effectively and intelligently.
Building better teams often starts with designing an effective group process. Whether this takes the form of a workshop or meeting, you’ll want a balance of activities, ice breakers and reflective methods in order to help your group align and grow together.
In this next section, we’ll take a look at some example team building processes, complete with a template you can use to get started. Let’s take a look.
Helping new teams to bond and find a shared purpose and value system is often best achieved with a well designed group process. Try the team development day template when working with a brand new team or one which has seen large growth and is in need of development. Here, you’ll find a complete one-day group process that can take a group from getting to know each other all the way through to defining their needs and making commitments.
Good teams are empathetic and in touch with their emotions. Using the emotional culture deck, this workshop can be run in under 3 hours and helps your team define and improve working relationships and the emotional culture of your team. Taking the time to articulate and define these items ensures that everyone in your group is seen, understood and valued, and that you have a shared language for moving forward.
Cohesive teams that work well together are those with an understanding about what makes a team and how it functions. Support your team building efforts with this half-day workshop template and guide your group through a process of understanding and building on the dynamics of working together.
Enabling better teamwork and building stronger, more cohesive teams isn’t easy. Whether you’re running a team building day, team workshop, or simply adding some team building activities to your meetings, we hope that some of the methods above can help you and your group come together and do better work.
Do you have a favourite team building activity? Is there anything missing from the list above? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear about how we can all improve our team building efforts.