5 Effective Team Building Exercises

Great teams produce consistent, quality work. Often, their excellence is not only due to the skills and experience each teammate brings, but the team’s “chemistry” – their ability to collaborate, cooperate, support each other, and unify to meet goals. Team building activities for work bring team members together because they help coworkers strengthen bonds, develop teamwork skills and enjoy each other’s company. Team building exercises can help in building a successful and dynamic team.

 

Related: How to Motivate Your Employees

 

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5 team building exercises to try

The goal of team building exercises is to create happier, better-connected team members. When employees participate in these simple team building activities, they’ll gain a better understanding of each person’s personality and strengths. Here are five helpful and fun team-building exercises you can use to boost team morale:

 

  • Whiteboard challenge
  • Zen counting
  • Two truths and a lie
  • Whose fact is it anyway?
  • Office trivia 

Whiteboard challenge

The whiteboard challenge is great for strengthening verbal, listening and teamwork bonds. It’s also a good option if you’re looking for team building activities for small groups, as only two small teams are required for the game to work. 

 

 Materials needed:  A large whiteboard, dry erase markers, paper

 

To start this exercise, gather your employees in a comfortable space such as the breakroom or a conference room. Follow these steps to complete the challenge:

 

  • Draw or print simple illustrations on pieces of paper.  Some ideas for illustrations are geometric shapes, flags, rainbows, a globe, planets, clouds, stick figures doing things, etc. These should be very simple.
  • Split participants into two teams. Have them sit on opposite sides, facing the board.
  • Draw a line down the center of the whiteboard.
  • For each round, one teammate from each team will approach the board and draw, while another teammate accepts a folded piece of paper. 
  • One teammate describes the illustration without explicitly saying what it is, while the other draws what they hear. Then, teams compete to see who can guess the drawing.

The whiteboard challenge is a great team building exercise as it gets every team member involved and taps into important teamwork skills.

 

Zen counting

This next team building exercise helps develop mindfulness, patience and respect. For this exercise, gather your employees in a comfortable, quiet space, then follow these steps: 

 

  • The entire team sits down in a circle facing away from each other. The team is told not to talk or attempt to make a plan while being given directions. 
  • Team members must successfully count to the same number as people in the game, without anyone talking over each other or simultaneously. If they do, then the count goes back to one.
  • The team cannot count in order around the circle. They must call out numbers at random. 

The Zen counting activity can help employees use skills that aren’t obvious. By facing away from one another, the team cannot communicate with facial expressions or verbal cues. Often, it will take many attempts to achieve the goal, and teammates learn to slow down, trust and cooperate with calmness.  

 

Two truths and a lie 

This exercise is great for newer teams because it helps people get to know each other. It can break more reticent players out of their shells and is a lot of fun. It’s also very simple. To play, gather your team together and ask for a starting volunteer. Follow these rules of the game:

 

  • Each player tells two true things about themselves and a lie.  The lie should be realistic enough to pass as the truth. True things should be interesting and things coworkers may not know.
  • Team members guess which of the three is a lie.

Whose fact is it anyway?

This is a fun and easy team building activity that allows your employees to use their critical thinking skills while learning more about one another. Gather your team together and follow these instructions:

 

Materials needed: Index cards, a medium-sized bowl or bucket, pens or markers

 

  • Ask each of your team members to write down a fun fact about themselves on an index card. 
  • Collect all index cards and place them in a bowl or bucket. 
  • Draw the cards one by one and read the facts aloud.
  • Have your team members guess who the fact belongs to, based on what they already know about their coworkers. 

Office trivia

Office trivia is an entertaining and easy team building activity that allows team members to open up and have a little fun with one another. The overall theme of office trivia should focus on the layout of your office, office supplies, and anything office-related. Prizes can include fun office gadgets, gift certificates to local restaurants, and hand-made coupons for work-related amenities such as first dibs on Friday-morning donuts or a free box of business cards. Follow these step-by-step instructions to play office trivia:

 

Materials needed: Index cards and a pen or marker

 

  • Write out office-related trivia questions and answers on the index cards. Questions can include: 
    • What color are the cabinets in the breakroom?
    • How many cubicles are in the office?
    • What’s the brand name of the office printer?
    • What is (team member name) favorite song?
    • Does (team member name) drink regular or decaf coffee?
  • Gather your team together in a conference room or other comfortable space and read off the questions one by one. Hand out prizes based on whoever answers the most questions correctly—you can also give prizes to runners-up and all participants if desired. 

Final thoughts about team building and team exercises

When you’re building your team, taking some time to invest in easy team building activities can make a difference in forming a successful team dynamic. By using these team working exercises, you’ll gain insight into how your employees work together.

 

FAQs about team building activities

Learn more about team building from the following commonly asked questions:

 

How can team building exercises be successful?

Team building activities are best when they’re fun and engaging.  A great team has trust between members.  Through fun team building exercises for work, employees break from the routine and pressure, which can free them up to build stronger bonds and learn new ways to work with one another.

 

How can team building increase the effectiveness of a business?

When people in your business work well together, they build off each other’s strengths and work harder. Successful team building results in happy and productive employees, which helps increase the productivity of your business. 

 

Can team building activities take place outside of the office?

While many team building exercises happen within office environments during downtime or scheduled breaks, it’s not a hard and fast rule. Out-of-the-office team building activities range from group lunches and outings to day-long retreats at parks and nature areas. When planning team building activities, the main objective should always be to bring your team members together in a positive way. 

 

What are the four common types of team building exercises?

The four most common types of team building exercises are problem-solving and decision-making activities, adaptability and planning exercises, communication activities, and trust-building exercises. Decision-making skills and adaptability are essential qualities for team members in a wide range of industries, and communication is important for every job. Trust-building exercises help team members learn to trust one another on both business and personal levels. 

 

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