Stories behind workshop plans, post-its and markers.

50 team building activities to improve teamwork

Working in a great team can make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction, healthy working practices, and organizational success. Though even with the best intentions, it’s often not enough to just put a group of great people together and expect team work to happen organically. 

Building a highly effective team takes work, consideration and the deployment of a thoughtful group process and some of the activities below are a great place to start.

That said, many employees bristle or cringe at the mention of team building. Done badly, team building sessions can be unimaginative, unproductive, or a waste of time for all involved

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

We’ve put together a collection of team building activities, games and exercises that cover aspects of team building 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.

See the list of different team building activities below and find those that are right for you!

What is team building? 

Team building is an umbrella term for activities designed to enable better team work and create bonds and better working practices between the members of a team. These activities often focus on improving communication, collaboration, alignment, team values and other items that can enable a group to work more effectively as a whole.

Effective team building sessions might also include activities that help resolve conflicts, share skills, or simply bring a group together by having fun and sharing experiences. Team building 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 day. The common denominator is that any good team building activity brings a group together and enables more effective team work. 

Benefits of team building activities

The benefits of team building are numerous. While effective team building sessions can have immediate benefits when it comes to enabling better working practices and 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 activity.

Team bonding

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. 

Change making

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!

Better communication 

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.

Employee happiness

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.

Team building icebreakers and fun energizers

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.

Bang

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. 

Bang #hyperisland #energiser 

Bang is a group game, played in a circle, where participants must react quickly or face elimination. One person stands in the middle of the circle as “the sheriff”, pointing at other players who must quickly crouch while those on either side of them quickly “draw”. A good activity to generate laughter in a group. It can also help with name-learning for groups getting to know each other.

Build-a-Shake

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!  

Build-a-Shake #teampedia #energiser #get-to-know #opening #team 

How to introduce yourself in a fun, creative way? Build a handshake!

Count Up

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 workshop on team development. 

Count Up #hyperisland #team #energiser #remote-friendly 

In this short exercise, a group must count up to a certain number, taking turns in a random order, with no two people speaking at the same time. The task is simple, however, it takes focus, calm and awareness to succeed. The exercise is effective to generate calm and focused collective energy in a group.

Cross the Circle

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.

Cross the Circle #teambuilding #get-to-know #energiser #team #thiagi 

This activity provides a playful way for participants to find commonalities among themselves.

Follow the Leader

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! 

Follow the Leader #zoom #virtual #physical #teambuilding #connection #energiser #opening #remote-friendly #ericamarxcoaching 

One person is designated as the leader.  Others copy exactly how the leader moves.  The leader calls on a new person to be the leader, and so on, until everyone in the group has had a chance to lead.  

Portrait Gallery

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! 

Portrait Gallery #hyperisland #team #ice breaker 

The Portrait Gallery is an energetic and fun icebreaker game that gets participants interacting by having the group collaboratively draw portraits of each member. The activity builds a sense of group because it results with each participant having a portrait drawn of him/herself by the other members of the group together. It also has a very colourful visual outcome: the set of portraits which can be posted in the space.

Snowball

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.

Snowball #get-to-know #opening #energiser #teambuilding #team 

This is a great activity to get people up and moving around in a playful way while still learning about each other. It can be related to any topic and be played at any time during the group’s life.

Get to know you games for new teams

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 awhile, 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, whatever the nature of your group! 

3 Question Mingle

Conversation is often the best starting point for 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!

3 Question Mingle #hyperisland #team #get-to-know 

An activity to support a group to get to know each other through a set of questions that they create themselves. The activity gets participants moving around and meeting each other one-on-one. It’s useful in the early stages of team development and/or for groups to reconnect with each other after a period of time apart.

9 Dimensions Team Building Activity

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.

9 Dimensions Team Building Activity #ice breaker #teambuilding #team #remote-friendly 

9 Dimensions is a powerful activity designed to build relationships and trust among team members.

There are 2 variations of this icebreaker. The first version is for teams who want to get to know each other better. The second version is for teams who want to explore how they are working together as a team.

Awareness Circle

Getting to know others is easier for some people than others. While some people 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. 

Awareness Circle #teampedia #team #ice breaker #opening 

This activity helps participants to get-to-know each other without saying a word.


Best and Worst

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.

Best and Worst #teampedia #get-to-know #opening #ice breaker #team 

This activity could easily break the ice at the beginning of a workshop, enabling participants to get to know each other in a fast process.

Better Connections

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!

Better Connections #interpersonal relationships #teambuilding #team #connection #thiagi #get-to-know 

We build a stronger relationship with people when we see them as human beings with whom we share similarities in terms of family and life situations. It is very difficult to form strong relationships with people about whom we know very little. We feel more connected to “full” people. For example, take John, the accountant. If I think of John as an accountant, I might put him into a box of what I think I know about accountants. I might not feel connected to accountants and will treat him accordingly. But when I think of John as a keen mountain climber and outdoor adventurer with two children, one of whom is graduating from university next month, then John becomes human to me, and I can feel connected to him.

Break the Ice with The Four Quadrants Activity

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! 

Break the Ice with The Four Quadrants Activity #team #icebreaker #get-to-know #teambuilding 

The Four Quadrants is a tried and true team building activity to break the ice with a group or team.

It is EASY to prep for and set up. It can be MODIFIED to work with any group and/or topic (just change the questions). It is FUN, COLORFUL and VISUAL.

Coat of Arms

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. 

Coat of Arms #teambuilding #opening #ice breaker #team #get-to-know #thiagi 

Coat of Arms exercise provides a way for participants to introduce themselves and their colleagues, particularly for groups who think they already know each other very well. Almost invariably participants discover something about their colleagues of which they previously had no idea. Occasionally this revelation has an immediate and direct application to another participant’s current project or challenge. Because this activity forces people to use drawings rather than words, it is particularly useful as a dual-purpose introductory exercise in training sessions that deal with such topics as innovation, creativity, and problem-solving.

Group Order

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.

Group Order #get-to-know #energiser #ice breaker #thiagi #team 

This is an energizing activity that helps members of a group get to know each other, network, and recognize what they have in common.

Happiness Exercise

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.

Happiness exercise #teambuilding #ice breaker #warm up #remote-friendly 

This exercise is a simple application of the principles of Appreciative Inquiry.

Just One Lie

Not all teambuilding 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!

Just One Lie #ice breaker #energiser #team #get-to-know 

This method is adapted from the well-known icebreaker ‘Two Truths And A Lie’ to create an activity that you could return to throughout a meeting.

Life Map

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! 

Life map #team #teampedia #ice breaker #get-to-know 

With this activity the participants get to know each other on a deeper level.

Name Juggling

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!

Name Juggling #teampedia #ice breaker #energiser #get-to-know #team 

Name Juggling is another variation of a try-to-learn-everyone’s-name but the game guarantees high energy level as well as some strategic thinking.

Open Fist

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.

Open Fist #get-to-know #ice breaker #thiagi #team 

Teams work better when they find things in common. Stronger teams reduce turnover, increase pleasant interactions, and improve productivity.

Personal Presentation

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.

Personal Presentations #hyperisland #team 

A simple exercise in which each participant prepares a personal presentation of him/herself sharing several important experiences, events, people or stories that contributed to shaping him or her as an individual. The purpose of personal presentations is to support each participant in getting to know each other as individuals and to build trust and openness in a group by enlarging the social arena.

Telling Our Stories

Everyone has a story to tell, though without a framework or guiding principles, the conversation 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. 

Telling Our Stories #hyperisland #team #teambuilding 

To work effectively together team members need to build relations, show trust, and be open with each other. This method supports those things through a process of structured storytelling. Team members answer questions related to their childhood, young adulthood, and now; then weave them into a story to share with the rest of their team.

Activities for team collaboration

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 that’s 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!

Conflict Responses

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.

Conflict Responses #hyperisland #team #issue resolution 

A workshop for a team to reflect on past conflicts, and use them to generate guidelines for effective conflict handling. The workshop uses the Thomas-Killman model of conflict responses to frame a reflective discussion. Use it to open up a discussion around conflict with a team.

Heard, Seen, Respected

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, See, 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.

Heard, Seen, Respected (HSR) #issue analysis #empathy #communication #liberating structures #remote-friendly 

You can foster the empathetic capacity of participants to “walk in the shoes” of others. Many situations do not have immediate answers or clear resolutions. Recognizing these situations and responding with empathy can improve the “cultural climate” and build trust among group members. HSR helps individuals learn to respond in ways that do not overpromise or overcontrol. It helps members of a group notice unwanted patterns and work together on shifting to more productive interactions. Participants experience the practice of more compassion and the benefits it engenders.

Myers-Briggs Team Reflection

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. 

Myers-Briggs Team Reflection #team #hyperisland 

A workshop to explore personal traits and interpersonal relations using the Myers-Briggs personalities model. Use this tool to go deeper with your team to understand more about yourselves and each other on personal and professional levels.

Strength Building exercise

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.

Strength Building exercise #team #appreciation #self esteem #remote-friendly 

People develop confidence and self esteem as they discover that their achievements and skills are valuable. This is an exercise for team building and for increasing self esteem and mutual trust.

Strength Envelopes

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. 

Strength Envelopes #appreciation #self-awareness #feedback #team #thiagi #teambuilding #action 

This activity helps working teams to discover and share individual strengths and to increase their engagement by structuring their jobs around these strengths. Suitable for people who work together (for example, members of an intact work team) organized into playgroups of 5 to 9 members.

Team of Two

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.

Team of Two #communication #active listening #issue analysis #conflict resolution #issue resolution #remote-friendly #team 

Much of the business of an organisation takes place between pairs of people. These interactions can be positive and developing or frustrating and destructive. You can improve them using simple methods, providing people are willing to listen to each other.

“Team of two” will work between secretaries and managers, managers and directors, consultants and clients or engineers working on a job together. It will even work between life partners.

Trust Battery

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.

Trust Battery #leadership #teamwork #team #remote-friendly 

This self-assessment activity allows you and your team members to reflect on the ‘trust battery’ they individually have towards each person on the team, and encourages focus on actions that can charge the depleted trust batteries.

What I Need From You (WINFY)

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.

What I Need From You (WINFY) #issue analysis #liberating structures #team #communication #remote-friendly 

People working in different functions and disciplines can quickly improve how they ask each other for what they need to be successful. You can mend misunderstandings or dissolve prejudices developed over time by demystifying what group members need in order to achieve common goals. Since participants articulate core needs to others and each person involved in the exchange is given the chance to respond, you boost clarity, integrity, and transparency while promoting cohesion and coordination across silos: you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again!

Activities to improve team alignment 

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!

Alignment & Autonomy

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.

Alignment & Autonomy #team #team alignment #team effectiveness #hyperisland 

A workshop to support teams to reflect on and ultimately increase their alignment with purpose/goals and team member autonomy. Inspired by Peter Smith’s model of personal responsibility. Use this workshop to strengthen a culture of personal responsibility and build your team’s ability to adapt quickly and navigate change.

Engineering Your Team OS

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. 

Engineering Your Team OS #team #hyperisland 

This is designed to work as a standalone workshop or as a companion to the Team Self-Assessment tool. Using reflections and insights on your working process, your team will ‘update’ its operating system by making deliberate choices about how to work together. The goal is gradual development, not a radical shift. You will design an ideal-state for your team and slowly work towards that.

Generative Relationships STAR

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!

Generative Relationships STAR #team #liberating structures #teamwork 

You can help a group of people understand how they work together and identify changes that they can make to improve group performance. All members of the group diagnose current relationship patterns and decide how to follow up with action steps together, without intermediaries. The STAR compass tool helps group members understand what makes their relationships more or less generative. The compass used in the initial diagnosis can also be used later to evaluate progress in developing relationships that are more generative.

Team Canvas Session

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!

Team Canvas Session #team alignment #teamwork #conflict resolution #feedback #teambuilding #team #issue resolution #remote-friendly 

The Team Canvas is Business Model Canvas for teamwork. It is an effective technique to facilitate getting teams aligned about their goals, values and purposes, and help team members find their role on the team.

Team Self Assessment

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 Self-Assessment #team #hyperisland #remote-friendly 

This is a structured process designed for teams to explore the way they work together. The tight structure supports team members to be open and honest in their assessment. After reflecting as individuals, the team builds a collective map which can serve as the basis for further discussions and actions. The assessment is based around 6 dimensions. Each one encouraging the team to reflect and analyse a different and crucial element of their behaviour.

Problem solving team activities 

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 team problem solving activities you can use in your next workshop or meeting. 

Blind Square – Rope Game

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!

Blind Square – Rope game #teamwork #communication #teambuilding #team #energiser #thiagi #outdoor 

This is an activity that I use in almost every teambuilding session I run–because it delivers results every time. I can take no credit for its invention since it has existed from long before my time, in various forms and with a variety of names (such as Blind Polygon). The activity can be frontloaded to focus on particular issues by changing a few parameters or altering the instructions.

Crocodile River

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!

Crocodile River #hyperisland #team #outdoor 

A team-building activity in which a group is challenged to physically support one another in an endeavour to move from one end of a space to another. It requires working together creatively and strategically in order to solve a practical, physical problem. It tends to emphasize group communication, cooperation, leadership and membership, patience and problem-solving.

Egg Drop

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!

Egg drop #teampedia #collaboration #teamwork #ice breaker #team 

This fun activity could be used as an icebreaker for people who have just met but it can be framed as a method that shows and fosters team communication, collaboration and strategic thinking as well.

Helium Stick

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!

Helium Stick #teampedia #team #teamwork #ice breaker #energiser 

A great and simple activity for fostering teamwork and problem solving with no setup beforehand.

Lego Challenge

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 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. 

LEGO Challenge #hyperisland #team 

A team-building activity in which groups must work together to build a structure out of LEGO, but each individual has a secret “assignment” which makes the collaborative process more challenging. It emphasizes group communication, leadership dynamics, conflict, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy.

Marshmallow Challenge with Debriefing 

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. 

Marshmallow challenge with debriefing #teamwork #team #leadership #collaboration 

In eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top.

The Marshmallow Challenge was developed by Tom Wujec, who has done the activity with hundreds of groups around the world. Visit the Marshmallow Challenge website for more information. This version has an extra debriefing question added with sample questions focusing on roles within the team.

Spider Web

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. 

Spider web #team #teampedia #warm up #outdoor #physical 

This is an active team building game and requires participants to move about a lot and so can be also used as an energiser.

Stress Balls

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!

Stress Balls #energiser #communication #teamwork #team #thiagi #action #ice breaker 

Understanding the importance of communication and teamwork is an important requirement for high performance teams of knowledge workers. This exercise is an effective energizer that requires communication and teamwork. Ask participants to form a circle and throw a ball around to simulate the movement of a message. Change different variables such as speed, quantity, and complexity to create a mess.

Activities to clarify team values and vision 

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! 

Cover Story

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!

Cover Story #gamestorming #idea generation #organizational development #vision #strategy 

Cover Story is a game about pure imagination. The purpose is to think expansively around an ideal future state for the organization; it’s an exercise in visioning. The object of the game is to suspend all disbelief and envision a future state that is so stellar that it landed your organization on the cover of a well-known magazine

Letter from the Future

Without a cohesive shared vision, teams can become unproductive or harbour 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!

Letter from the Future #strategy #vision #thiagi #team #teamwork 

Teams that fail to develop a shared vision of what they are all about and what they need to do suffer later on when team members start implementing the common mandate based on individual assumptions. To help teams get started on the right foot, here is a process for creating a shared vision.

Team Purpose & Culture

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!

Team Purpose & Culture #team #hyperisland #culture #remote-friendly 

This is an essential process designed to help teams define their purpose (why they exist) and their culture (how they work together to achieve that purpose). Defining these two things will help any team to be more focused and aligned. With support of tangible examples from other companies, the team members work as individuals and a group to codify the way they work together. The goal is a visual manifestation of both the purpose and culture that can be put up in the team’s work space.

Checkout and recap activities for your team building workshop

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!

Appreciations Exercise

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! 

Appreciations Exercise #team #appreciation #self esteem 

When you hear about your strengths from others and acknowledge them to yourself, this builds your motivation and self-confidence.

If you do this at the end of a workshop, you go away feeling good about yourself and your colleagues too.

Check-in / Check-out

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!

Check-in / Check-out #team #opening #closing #hyperisland #remote-friendly 

Either checking-in or checking-out is a simple way for a team to open or close a process, symbolically and in a collaborative way. Checking-in/out invites each member in a group to be present, seen and heard, and to express a reflection or a feeling. Checking-in emphasizes presence, focus and group commitment; checking-out emphasizes reflection and symbolic closure.

History Map

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. 

History Map #hyperisland #team #review #remote-friendly 

The main purpose of this activity is to remind and reflect on what group members or participants have been through and to create a collective experience and shared story. Every individual will gain a shared idea of what the group has been through together. Use this exercise at the end of a project or program as a way to reinforce learnings, celebrate highlights and create closure.

One Breath Feedback

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.

One breath feedback #closing #feedback #action 

This is a feedback round in just one breath that excels in maintaining attention: each participants is able to speak during just one breath … for most people that’s around 20 to 25 seconds … unless of course you’ve been a deep sea diver in which case you’ll be able to do it for longer.

Team building templates

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.

Team development day for a new team

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. 

Emotional Culture Workshop

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.

Team Dynamics Workshop

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. 

Over to you

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.

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