Team building is important and one of the ways that teams communicate is team meetings. So far, so good. The actual content is obviously the main focus and thrust of the meeting, but a little fun and levity is also useful. There is also a place for “meeting starters” and “warm-ups”. With the right team-building activities, have an opportunity to build some enthusiasm and trust. Trust, in my opinion, is as important as skills and competence.
A team without trust could also involve more work on projects if there is a lack of trust and confidence in a particular team member, thereby causing other team members to compensate either consciously or unconsciously. Every team leader probably has experienced a lack of trust among team members. One simple way to build more trust is to employ some team building activities that are low cost and easy to implement.
Here are the three (3) free exercises:
1. The name game. Here’s a quick game from Scannell: In a group of four to 10 people, each person takes about 90 seconds to discuss the story of his or her first name. Why did Ellen’s parents choose that name? Does it mean something? Was she named after someone? When did Charles decide to go by Chaz, and why?
Scannell calls this kind of activity a “climate setter” because “it creates the right tone and climate for the work you’re going to do,” she says. So if you’re going to launch into a three-hour collaborative meeting, consider spending the first 10 minutes using this exercise to relate to each other, connect and nurture a safe space for teamwork.
2. Thumb ball. Take a cheap soccer ball or beach ball and write a number on each of its panels. Then write a corresponding question for each number. Scannell shares a few ideas: Who is someone you admire, and why? What are two office tools you can’t live without? What’s your favorite stress-buster? What are two valuable traits in a co-worker? What advice would you give to someone just starting his or her career?
Toss the ball among your team members popcorn-style and have them answer whichever question corresponds with the number their thumb lands on. For example, if Ellen catches the ball, and her thumbs land on 7 and 12, she chooses one of the two numbers. The leader then reads the question assigned to that number.
Use this game as an alternative to the everyone-go-around-and-tell-us-about-yourself icebreaker, which sets up participants for one of two fates: spending the whole exercise thinking about what they’re going to say instead of listening to everyone’s answers, or drifting into a boredom-induced coma. With a ball, a mix of questions and splash of spontaneity, this game “keeps people in the moment,” Scannell says.
3. Song selecting. This exercise from Yerkes requires some (fun) homework. Give about 10 days for each participant – or, if it’s a big team, each small group – to decide on a song that “embodies the spirit of the kind of team they’d like to become.”
Then meet, listen to the songs and have folks explain their choices, “which tells you a little bit about their philosophies,” Yerkes says. (A few songs team members have chosen in her recent workshops include James Brown’s “I Feel Good” and Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”) “Music is a way to connect with anyone,” she says. “Songs tell you the world about another person.”
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