Team building games are a great way to get your team connecting and working together.
Whether your team is virtual or in the office, doing activities together can lead to a more productive day. We have found that a 15-minute team building activity at the start of the day gets everyone moving, thinking, and working together. A perfect start to a productive day!
It is important to choose the right team building activities and the key is to avoid the same old “ice breaker” type activities that are more of a demotivation than an invigorating activity. With this in mind we have compiled a list of the 15 best Team Building Activities that you can run from start to finish in 20 minutes or less.
You will quickly find this is the best way to start the day of the week with your team.
1) Problematic Building Blocks
Equipment: Large Paper Sheets, Coloured Markers
Start by creating a fictional or real problem your business is facing. Then gather the team and place a large piece of paper and a different coloured marker in front of each person.
Have each person write down a quick solution or idea to the problem on a large sheet of paper then pass it to the person on the right. Now the next person needs to add a sentence or two of their own trying to solve the problem or building on a prior idea.
Continue for several rounds, and then workshop the solutions with the team. It’s likely you’ll be surprised what the results are.
The purpose of the exercise is to show the value of everyone’s ideas. When you work as a team, brainstorming sessions can sway toward the vocal and dominant personalities. By forcing these ideas to be put on paper, each team member can contribute.
2) Two Truths, One Lie
Equipment: Lots of Strips of Paper, Pens
For this activity, give each team member three identical slips of paper. Then, instruct them to write down two truths and one lie. The truths and lie shouldn’t be crude or rude, and the lie should be somewhat believable.
Have everyone pass their slips to the person on the right. Then, go around the group, one at a time, and have them read the truths and lie about their colleague in a random order. When they finish, ask your team to decide the facts and which one is the lie.
The exercise allows everyone to reveal facts about themselves as well as present about someone else. The activity will expose some of the assumptions your team have about each other and help them understand some new things about their work mates.
3) Stick it, Make it, Glue it, Break it
Equipment: Assorted Craft items, Sticky Tape, Paddle Pops, Cardboard, Markers, etc.
Create multiple piles of available supplies in the middle of the room, everything from paddle pop sticks, sticky tape, buttons, cardboard, blue tack, coloured markers, etc. Make sure to have a separate pile for each group.
Divide your team into equal groups with as close as possible to 5 people per group. Then have the groups come up with the first objects they think of and jot down a list. Pick one item from the list (choose something that is interesting, funny, or difficult) and set the task for each group to build it with a defined time limit to add some pressure e.g.,15 minutes.
Make sure to mention that they can only use what is available, but how they use the supplies is entirely up to them.
The idea of this activity is to improve problem-solving as a team. At the end of the challenge, each team will reveal what they built. The challenge also allows your team to be creative and while having fun and learning how to problem-solve.
4) The Un-Common Book
Equipment: Large Book with Blank Pages (choose something worth keeping), Paper, Pens, Sticky Tape / Glue
The un-common book allows your team to spread positivity and make memories with each other. The aim is to have team members write down quotes, fun events that happened at work, examples where they or someone they work with has gone over and above, details of something great that happened, or anything that helps record the team’s culture at that time and place.
Because you’re collecting memories, the activity is ongoing. You can make it a weekly activity to take 15 minutes with the team and work on additions to the book. We would suggest picking a single activity for each session e.g., Write an example of someone you work with delivering / demonstrating one of our company’s core values. Then next week pick another idea for people to create content on.
Once the snippets are collated have two team members stick them into the book.
Keep the book in a common area and leave resources nearby so people can come and “add on the fly”. Once the book is full, the team can look back on the memories and you can start a new chapter in a fresh book.
The task encourages creativity and collaboration. It also gives you something to look at in the future to see where your team was and how far they have come.
5) Show and Hell
Equipment: A Box and a Collection of Trinkets / Random Things from Around the Office
Show and Hell is a great way to get your team doing public speaking, being creative on the fly, and sharing updates of the work they are delivering. If it suits, set aside the same day every week or month for Show and Hell.
First collect a bunch of items from around the office or bring a collection of trinkets (op shops are a good location to find items) and put them all in a box so no one can see what is in there. Gather the group and select a random item from the box. Give it to the first person (this is where the Hell part comes in!) they must present to the group for one to two minutes talking about the random item and why it is one of their most treasured possessions.
Next the same person needs to pick a current piece of work they are undertaking and talk about why it is important to the business. After the first challenge, everyone finds this a lot easier!
You can even host Show and Hell during lunchtime and have it catered. It can be a monthly catch-up that everyone looks forward to. Afterwards, you can continue to hang out and bond as a team.
Remember, most people are eager to share interesting things about their work but not everyone gets the opportunity. When you make “Show and Hell” a regular occurrence, it gives everyone a chance to share, even managers.
6) Ad Lib Mission Statement
Equipment: White Board, Paper, Pens
Companies pay big money to build a swoon-worthy mission statement. But its easy to miss the mark if your team fails to understand what it means or worse still do not know it.
To help ensure your mission statement resonates better with your team, try this exercise.
Start by writing your company’s mission statement on the whiteboard twice and then remove key nouns, verbs, and adjectives from the second one. Leave an underline in their place.
Divide the team into groups of two and give each group a piece of paper and a marker. Each team needs to recreate the mission statement 3 times using different words to fill the gaps. Answers can be serious, funny, or nonsensical.
Once all the statements are complete, each team selects a speaker to read their 3 out to the group. Bonus points for any group that writes one that sounds better than the current company mission statement!
This exercise helps everyone understand the company mission and gives teams the chance to reinterpret in their own ways.
7) The Invisible Picture
Equipment: Paper, Pencils / Markers, Collection of Pictures of Everyday Items
The Invisible Picture as a team-building activity that is great for face-to-face teams and for teams that are working online. The purpose of this is to strengthen communication between team members.
Give one person a picture from your collection. The team member with the picture must describe the image without using any words that give it away, while all the other team members will draw pictures of the item being described.
After a set time limit (~2-minutes), the drawing time ends, and each team member needs to show their drawing and guess what the item was. Lastly show the team what the original image was.
While the final drawings will seldom look like the picture, it reveals to participants how different the interpretation of instructions can be even when they are supposedly talking about the same thing. This can be a great team exercise to build communication skills in the workplace.
8) Wait... Who Am I?
Equipment: Name tag stickers, Markers
Using name tags, write down roles or stereotypes. They can include things like doctor, athlete, king, used car salesman, wealthy, CEO, famous rapper, and more. Each team member will wear a name tag on their back without knowing what the tag says.
When the team arrive, line them up and add the tags to their backs so no one can see their own. Then allow the team 10 minutes to mingle, asking questions that get them close to discovering what their tag says. Each team member should treat each other according to the stereotype of the person on their label.
Each team member can use that treatment and answer questions to figure out what’s on the label. As each team member figures out who they are, they can exit the game and let the rest continue. Based on answers and treatment, the team can better understand how stereotypes can affect actions.
9) Fire Sale!
Equipment: An item from each person’s desk
To start, have each team member choose one item from their desk and bring it to the session. The item they choose will be their new product, and they must come up with a name, logo, slogan, and marketing plan.
Give the group 5 minutes to come up with their 60 second sales pitch, people can work together or alone. Once the time is up, each person will present their “product” as if they were selling it to the rest of the team. After the pitch, the group needs to decide a “price’ for the item based on the sales pitch.
After you can discuss as a group, which products are successfully sold and why.
This challenge promotes creativity, sales skills, and problem-solving. All important skills for any business.
10) Rapid Interview
Equipment: Pens and Paper
Come up with several scenarios where someone has a job to do. Examples of scenarios include going grocery shopping, being a public speaker, building a rocket, or finding the cure to cancer.
Split the team into smaller groups of two or three. Ask each group to develop three questions that they would ask to determine if someone was the perfect fit for the job and write it down.
When all scenarios are complete, have each group present their questions, discuss the questions as a group see what the team believe are the best questions.
During the activity, team members will quickly learn how each person thinks. The questions they create reflect their motives and what they think matters the most.
11) Group It!
Equipment: Random items from across the office, Pens, Paper
To start, have the group go collect various objects and put them in the center of the room. You can also instruct the group to each bring one or two random items to the session to save time. Aim for at least 20 different objects. The broader, the better. The goal is to choose items that, at first glance, have no apparent connection.
Next break the team into groups, ensuring they have a clear understanding of what the objects are. After they are in groups, instruct them to classify the objects into four categories of their choosing, writing them down on a sheet of paper.
When the time is up, have a spokesperson for each group reveal how they classified the objects and why. Reasons might vary, from the object’s function to how it looks or material. The idea is that it will lead to a discussion on working outside the box to find solutions for unrelated problems.
Classify this is a great activity to help promote teamwork and creative thinking. It also encourages your team to rethink everyday objects.
12) Making Problems
Equipment: Paper, Pens, Markers
Start by assigning your team into even groups of two and give them 5 minutes to develop a problem-solving challenge. It could be a quiz, a brain teaser, a drawing exercise, group exercise, the only condition is that they must be able to complete the challenge then and there.
When the 5 minutes are up complete, choose one of the teams to share their challenge. All other groups will then need to complete this challenge.
Repeat through the rest of the team as time permits. If you end up with more challenges than remaining time, simply use them in tomorrow’s / next week’s team building session.
With this challenge, you give leadership responsibilities directly to your team. It also gives them the chance to develop creative ways to challenge their co-workers in productive ways.
13) Talk, Listen, Observe
Equipment: Paper, Pens
Come up with three current event or business topics. Break the group up into teams of three, and assign each one a role of talker, listener, and watcher. Give out the first current event or business topic out to the groups.
The “Talker” needs to talk on the subject for 1 to 2 minutes, the “Listener” needs to practice active listening for the duration (no talking) and needs to ask one question at the end, the “Watcher” needs to study the interaction and take notes on both the topic and the participants.
Once complete rotate the roles and repeat, then repeat again. Each person will have had a chance to be in each role. Bring the team back together and ask the team what they observed, what they learned in each role, and where this might apply to their daily role.
Active listening, whether your teams are online or in-person, is a great activity to better represent the importance of listening and how to communicate better.
14) Describe and Draw
Equipment: Paper, Pens, Pencils, Markers
Give each team member a piece of paper. Have them draw a simple drawing of their choice on the paper, then pass the paper to their right.
Each team member then looks at the drawing they now have, folds the paper in half, and describes what they think the picture is in writing. The team will continue to pass the papers around, alternating between determining what the image is and drawing what they read.
Every round should only reveal the words or drawing from the previous person. When the paper is back to the original owner, each member shows what was written and illustrated. The drawings and interpretations are sure to start discussion and jokes.
Describe and Draw is a great way to break the ice and helps demonstrate communication breakdowns and where what is said, is not always what is interpreted.
15) The Problem Tree
Equipment: Large Sheet Paper, Pens
Start by splitting the team into small groups and give each team a piece of paper. Instruct them to write down a problem they have at work at the top of the sheet. These problems should not be about a coworker but a business or system challenge.
Next, have them write two things below that they believe causes the problem. The cause should be related to systems, ideology, or procedures, but should relate to team members. Then have them break down each of those two ideas into what they believe are the root causes of them, eventually forming something like an inverted family tree.
Once complete, regroup and have each team present their Problem Tree, allow time for the group to discuss and ask questions.
The Problem Tree is a great exercise to uncover issues in the business and get people into a mindset to go about finding solutions. You also get the added benefit of engaging other team members in developing solutions.
Team Building Games for Everyone
Bringing everyone together in a productive way can be challenging. With a natural desire to avoid “hammy” team building activities it is hard to get people in and interested. With these genuine activities, your team will be able to practice working together, problem-solving, and leadership skills.
Afterwards, employees will leave feeling energised with a fresh perspective on their teammates and how to solve day to day problems in their role.
If you would like a free PDF version of this guide simply head to the Team Building Activities download page and we'll send you out a copy.
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