Problem-Solving Activities To Help Promote Team Building

Updated February 28, 2023

Three employees sitting in office chairs look at one employee writing on a whiteboard

If you're a manager or team lead, consider hosting team-building activities to increase your team's problem-solving skills while having fun. These activities can increase the employee's bonds of shared experience and allow you to get to know one another outside of work. Understanding the various exercises and their benefits can help you find the right one for your team.

In this article, we define team building, list its benefits, share a few problem-solving activities to try with your team, explain how often to conduct these exercises and offer tips to help you plan a successful activity.

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What is team building?

Team building can improve a team's collaboration, leading to better team performance overall. There are many ways to build teams effectively. Each method comes with its own team-building activities that bring coworkers closer together with shared experiences. Problem-solving activities are an effective method of team building. You may often form teams to address complex challenges in the workplace. Focusing on problem-solving as a team can help build stronger connections and improve collaboration skills.

Related: What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definitions and Examples

Benefits of problem-solving exercises in team building

One benefit of problem-solving exercises in team building is the ability to present employees with challenges they may not encounter normally. This lets you test the team in new ways, which forces team members to think with unconventional methods.

In many cases, this leads to employees changing how they work to find new solutions. Teams bring these changes back to the workplace where they can help solve existing challenges.

Problem-solving activities in team building are an effective way to improve teamwork and collaboration. This is because teams are designed to resolve challenges in the workplace. You're allowing employees to practice being a team without any of the normal stressors of the workplace when taking part in these activities.

Related: 17 Benefits of Team Building for Your Organization

3 problem-solving team-building activities

Problem-solving team-building activities are an effective way to improve team collaboration. The key to making them effective is having well-planned activities. These activities facilitate shared experiences, bringing team members closer together. Here are a few problem-solving team-building activities to try:

1. The collapsing space game

The collapsing space game improves a team's ability to adapt to changing situations while incorporating input from each individual. This game is simple to play and only requires something to mark the boundary of the team's workspace.

The key is to limit the team's space in a way that's easy to change and can fit the entire team. A rope is usually the best choice, but your team can play the game with other physical boundary markers.

To play, place the team inside the boundary made with the rope or other markers. The team stays inside the boundary at all times. Over time, reduce the size of the team's space by shrinking the boundary. Then, the team works together to adapt and find new ways of keeping everyone inside the boundary.

Related: Team Working vs. Team Building: Similarities and Differences

2. The emergency plan game

The emergency plan game is one of the easiest problem-solving activity games to use since its only requirement is space. In this case, the game is interesting and easier to facilitate and engage in if you fill the room with several objects.

To play this game, gather everyone into a room. The game's goal requires the team to find 10 items to survive locked in the room for several days.

Give the team a set amount of time to discuss it, 30 minutes at the most, then review the team's answers. Everyone on the team has to agree to the 10 items and rank them in order of importance.

This game can help the team improve their communication skills. The team has to agree on a definitive answer to win. This makes the team members communicate their reasoning with each other for the team to win.

Related: 50 Team-Building Games Your Employees Would Enjoy

3. The communication game

The communication game is best played in an open space with a flat floor. The purpose of the game is to help members learn to communicate effectively. You can play this game with materials found around the office.

The game recommends finding a set of items that are the size of a fist or a hockey puck, are easy to see at a distance and easy for someone to keep their balance if they step on it. If these items aren't available, you may use pieces of colored paper. The game also requires enough blindfolds for half of the group.

To play the game, divide the team into groups of two. One person in each group puts on a blindfold. Then, the team leader spreads the set of objects across the floor. They place them in a strategic pattern so no one can walk directly to the other side of the room.

Each pair of staff members works together to get the one with the blindfold across the room without touching the objects. This requires them to communicate effectively since the individual without the blindfold can't move or touch the other.

Related: How To Write a Workplace Continuous Improvement Plan in 5 Steps

How often should you schedule team-building activities?

Team building is an ongoing process. One team-building session can be effective, but your team may benefit from multiple sessions. It may be beneficial to make it a part of your regular program.

For team building to be effective, repeat it as often as you feel it's useful. This largely depends on the activity you choose. You can do quick activities more regularly since they may interfere less with the regular work schedule. You can conduct longer, more elaborate activities less frequently so the team can finish their work.

For many companies, team building is part of a monthly schedule to yield the best results. It's essential to remember the ideal frequency depends on the type of activity, your team and the team's needs.

Related: 5-Minute Team-Building Activities To Improve Productivity

Paid vs. unpaid team-building sessions

There are benefits to paid and unpaid team-building sessions. Since companies pay to create and host team-building sessions, some may choose not to pay employees for completing these activities. They don't generate money, so the company is taking a loss in return for an improvement in team productivity.

Due to this, some companies believe they aren't required to pay staff members for team-building sessions, which helps them to minimize the cost of the activity. Some companies take this a step further by holding team-building sessions outside of normal work hours to avoid interfering with the regular workday.

Supporters of paid team-building sessions believe the company can benefit from paying employees because staff members are taking part in company events. Other benefits to offering paid team-building activities can include increasing motivation for employees to participate.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Creative Problem-Solving Skills

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Tips for team building with problem-solving activities

Here are some strategies you can use to ensure productive team-building sessions with these games:

  • Be realistic about participant abilities. When developing your own problem-solving activities for team building, be realistic about participant abilities. Everyone brings a specific set of skills to the group, so utilizing everyone's unique traits can ensure the most effective team-building sessions.

  • Evaluate your team-building budget. If you're planning team-building activities, evaluate the team-building budget to determine where to plan the games and what exercises you can afford.

  • Keep team-building sessions short. Keep team-building sessions short to keep team members engaged and create less stress. Additionally, shorter sessions are often more cost-effective because you can bond as a team and complete the required work.

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