Skill-Building Activities You Can Use to Improve Your Team
Updated June 24, 2022
Many businesses seek to improve their employees' productivity and to help save on costs, they often turn to skill building. There are many ways you can go about building the skills of your employees, such as group activities and projects. If you are interested in boosting your team's efficiency to help your business, it's helpful to use some skill-building activities. In this article, we list 32 skill-building activities you can try with your employees.
What are skill-building activities?
Skill-building activities are activities you can introduce to your employees with the purpose of improving a specific skill or set of skills. Business leaders use these activities to help their employees grow and perform better at their jobs. Skill-building activities can help improve a wide range of skills, such as project management or computer programming.
Why are skill-building activities important?
Skill-building activities are important because they can help organizations get the most from their employees. It is often more efficient to improve the skills of your existing employees rather than hiring new employees who already may possess those skills. For example, a software company may have a great customer service agent, except that they struggle with written communication. Through skill-building activities, they can improve the employee's written communication skills, which can help improve the business.
Below are some examples of skill-building activities that focus on a variety of skills, depending on what you are looking to develop within your employees:
Customer service skill-building activities
Here are some activities that can help to improve customer service skills:
Daily problem scenario: Give your team a new hypothetical problem to work on each day. Have them imagine how they would handle this scenario, then discuss the best solution.
Product training: Assign your customer service team to use and get to know your products from your product development team. This may allow them to provide better solutions to customer issues.
Review case studies: Gather examples of previous customer service interactions. Discuss with your team what that agent did right or what they could have done to improve.
Yes and: In this improvisation game, divide your group into pairs. Then give them a scenario and the instruction that they can only agree with the other person's statement and must add to it. This teaches them how they can stay positive during interactions and adjust to changing situations.
Customer role play: Have your customer service representative take on the role of a customer with you playing the agent. Then provide different scenarios for the two of you to act out. This exercise can help your agents see things from the customer's perspective and how they might handle different situations.
Name memorization: Have your group each come up with a fake name for themselves privately. Then have them introduce themselves to one another. After all the introductions, have them write as many names as they can remember. Provide some memorization techniques and conduct the activity again, then compare results.
Different communication channels: Split the group into pairs, with one person playing the customer service agent and the other a customer, and provide the customer with a complaint they want to discuss. Then repeat the scenario using different communication, such as in-person, through writing or on the phone, then discuss the differences after each person has had a turn.
Leadership skill-building activities
Some activities that can help your employees develop leadership skills include:
Minefield: Set up a simple “minefield” or obstacle course, such as pieces of paper on the ground or orange traffic cones. Then blindfold one person and place them at the start of the course. Pair them up with another person, who must guide them through using only a limited set of words.
Leadership analysis: Have individuals or small teams discuss leaders they admire. Instruct them to create a list of qualities that these leaders possess. Bring everyone together at the end to discuss common traits among all the groups.
What if: Meet with people individually and present them with a difficult hypothetical scenario. Ask them how they would handle situations like losing a big client or an event vendor canceling without warning. These scenarios help the individual imagine how they would handle tough situations if they were responsible.
Untangle: Have a group stand in a circle and close their eyes. Then, they must reach out and clasp two other hands. After everyone has a hand, they open their eyes and untangle themselves. In this exercise, one or two leaders typically emerge to manage the process. Works best with 10-15 people.
30 seconds: Have participants think of the best experience in their life. Then give them only 30 seconds to describe this experience to the rest of the group. This activity teaches the ability to take complex narratives and distill them down to the most important parts.
Team-building event: Instruct individuals to put together a small team-building event. This gives them experience in leading a project where the stakes are low. Provide details as to the type of activities they should include but also give them space to be creative.
Magic carpet: Provide a group of people with a small tarp or rug that has enough room for everyone to stand on. Then select one person to remain off the rug. The goal of the activity is to flip the rug over with no one getting off. Instruct the people on the carpet to remain silent, while the person off of the carpet instructs everyone on what to do.
Communication skill-building activities
Some simple communication-improving activities include:
Charades: Charades teaches the importance of body language and other non-verbal cues in communication. Provide one person with a word or phrase related to your business. The others must then guess what it is, with the person who has the word unable to speak.
Telephone: Place your group into a single line. Whisper a phrase into the first person's ear, then have them repeat it to the person next to them. This process continues, with no one allowed to say the phrase more than once until the last person says aloud what they heard. This simple game teaches the importance of clear communication on the first attempt.
Pass the hoop: Have your team stand in a circle and hold hands. Then place a hula hoop around one person's arm. Have the team try to pass the hoop all the way around the circle without breaking hands. This activity helps to build both communication and problem-solving skills with a simple exercise.
One at a time: Put participants into groups of three. Have two people tell a one-minute story at the same time. At the end of the minute, the third person summarizes as much as they can from both stories. This activity teaches the importance of giving your full attention to one person at a time.
Marshmallow skyscraper: Assemble commonplace items from around the office (paper, cups, boxes, pens, etc.) and instruct teams to build the tallest possible structure they can. At the end of the time limit, the structure must be able to support the weight of a marshmallow.
Guided drawing: Sit two participants back-to-back. Give one person an object and the other a piece of paper and pen. The person with the object then describes the object without naming it and the other person attempts to draw it.
Project management skill-building activities
To work on project management skills, try some of these activities:
Road trip: Instruct participants to select a certain amount of items for a road trip, without knowing the destination. Then repeat the exercise but provide them with a destination. After completing both scenarios, discuss the importance of knowing where you are going in the project management process.
Moon shot: Split groups into teams and instruct them to brainstorm a crazy, big idea for the company. Then instruct them to develop a plan to complete that project. You may also give the teams a big idea to start with. For this game to work, the bigger the idea, the better.
Fact or opinion: Provide a list of statements that could be facts or opinions related to your business, then ask participants to label each one. For each fact, ask how they would prove it or what it's based on, and for opinions, ask why someone could form a particular opinion. This activity helps to show the importance of operating on facts over assumptions.
Facing a fear: Have participants write something they are afraid of. Then walk through addressing that fear, such as imagining the worst-case scenario or who they could turn to for help. This activity helps project managers address problems as they arise during a project.
Possible impacts: Present a group with a hypothetical problem or project. Then go through how this hypothetical could affect themselves, their family, the business, the community and so on. This exercise helps to show the power of a single action and unintended consequences.
Biggest problem: Instruct the group to come up with what they view as the biggest problem in the world today. Then have them come up with a solution, assuming they had everything they needed. This exercise teaches participants how to divide larger problems into smaller ones and the importance of having the right resources.
Socratic method: Divide participants into small groups them present them with a simple project idea. Instruct the groups to come up with as many questions as they can that are related to the project. This activity teaches the importance of considering as many possibilities as you can for a project and the importance of gathering information.
Technical skill-building activities
To improve some specific technical skills among your employees, try one of these activities:
Best social media engagement: Break the group into teams and have each team create a single post for your company's social media feed. You then post each idea and the post with the highest engagement levels after 24 hours wins. This activity helps participants learn more about what makes an audience engage with a post.
Coding challenge: Present participants with an example task. Then have them create a program that can complete the task in as few lines as possible. This activity is good for those who already know how to code but want to do so more efficiently.
Spreadsheet challenge: Give the participants a database to work with. Ask them to create a spreadsheet that easily presents the most essential information. For added difficulty, ensure that they must use different spreadsheet formulas to process the data.
Technical writing: Provide the participants with a document that has complex information in it, such as product specifications. Ask them to write about this product using simple language. Afterward, review what everyone wrote and discuss strategies they can use in the future.
Optimize a webpage: Divide your participants into groups, then give each one a similar page on your website. Instruct them to optimize this page for search engines, doing whatever they need to improve its search engine rankings. Check back a week later to see which page improved the most, then discuss the results.
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