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12 Simple Team Building Activities for Managers

Your lead a team of staff or employees and you want them to work well together, right? You know you should run a few corporate team building activities for them, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place, here are my favourite, top-12 team building activities, ever.

 

Identify Your Team’s Needs

 

You might sense that your team could benefit from some form of team building program, but you should never just push back the tables and chairs and start playing games. Your first step, always, is to consider the specific needs of your group.

I’ve worked as an experiential trainer for 30+ years, and while I use many group games over and over again, I have never delivered one program that was identical to another. They were all different because every group was different, and so, too, is yours.

Consider the following list of questions to articulate the sort of difference you want your program to make:

Step 1: Logistics

 

This part of your analysis is not rocket science, but you do need to be specific. You want answers to six basic questions:

    • When? – on what date and time
    • Who? – how many people are involved and what is their demographic profile
    • What? – what is the context in which your team-building program will be delivered, eg weekly, annual, once-off, etc.
    • Where? – the physical environment in which the program will be delivered and the amount of space you’ll need
    • How? – the format you expect the program to be delivered, eg oral presentation, experiential, online, etc.

Step 2: Apparent Goal

 

If you are familiar with the SMART goal-setting model, this part of your analysis is focused on the Why? or the R – relevance. You must ensure that your plan is relevant to your group and this involves asking a lot of questions to focus on what needs improving or changing.

Your goal-setting should identify one or more of the following factors. Note, this list is by no means exhaustive, and your team may exhibit other unique issues that need to be addressed, but it will get you thinking:

    • Communication
    • Planning & Decision-Making
    • Critical Thinking
    • Relationships
    • Leadership
    • Trust & Empathy
    • Commitment
    • Goal-Setting
    • Feedback

Step 3: Articulate Difference

 

There are no problem-solving team building activities in the world that will make a difference to your team unless and until you understand why this difference will matter to your group. There is a lot to learn in this step and is discussed in great detail in my book Serious Fun.

In short, this part of your needs analysis needs to dig deeper to truly understand what will make a difference to your team, in their words. There is no set formula, simply an enquiry. Here are a few questions you could ask to articulate what would make a difference to your team:

    • Why does your group want to achieve the goal? (defined in above step;)
    • Why is this important? and
    • Why does this matter, and to whom?

For example, your apparent goal might be to develop team skills, but with further analysis, you may articulate that helping your team feel valued and empowered is actually what will make a difference to your team.

If you need help articulating difference in your corporate team building programs, please reach out to me at any time.

 

12 Team Building Activities for Managers

 

Once you’ve analysed the development needs of your team, choose one or more activities from the following list of my favourite team-building activities that you think will best suit your needs. When you click the links related to each activity, you’ll learn everything you need to know to run the activity like a pro.

Are You More Like…

Simple get-to-know-you better exercise that celebrates diversity and helps your team appreciate and values others.

Making Connections

Quick and easy ice-breaker to invite your team to connect with one another, both physically and emotionally.

Lean Walk

Terrific partner activity that builds trust and empathy. Find a bit of space to conduct this exercise, preferably outside if you can. Be sure to invite everyone to try the exercise with several different partners.

Leaning Tower of Feetza

Possibly one of my all-time favourite and quickest team challenges. Perfect if you just want to energiser your group as a quick team building activity for meetings, but also valuable to focus on creativity, collaboration and decision-making.

Longest Shadow

This problem-solving activity requires no props, but you will need to be outside on a sunny day with ample room to move. This fun group initiative will challenge your group to think creatively as well as collaborate and commit.

Marshmallow Challenge

One of the most popular group initiatives and frequently presented as part of team-building events and conferences because it’s just so much fun. You’ll need to collect a bag od simple resources to distribute to each of the small teams in advance. A great activity to explore the value of challenging assumptions, not to mention developing collaboration and critical thinking skills.

River Crossing

This is an accessible office team building activity. Just break your group into smaller teams, pose the challenge and allow each group the time to discover the solution. A real head-scratcher.

Poker Face

This classic, values-driven exercise comes straight from our collection of team building activities for leaders. As simple as this exercise may seem, it can often be one of the most significant, dynamic exercises I present to help teams understand the impact of their actions and judgements on other people. All you need is a deck of playing cards and a little bit of space to move about.

Paper Holding

This exercise may involve some close contact with other people, so consider your sequence and the level of comfort your group will bring to it. It’s a wonderfully creative exercise, and it really demands small teams to work together well. Communication, leadership and decision-making are all worthy topics to explore in your debrief.

Human Spring

As you may tell, as the list grows, the activities become more physically challenging, and this is true for this partner exercise. You must absolutely sequence your sequence of activities carefully to be sure your group is ready and when they are, this activity will be a real highlight of the day.

Pairs Compass Walk

Go outside, break into groups of two people and set up this wonderful blind-folded navigation exercise. You will need lots of space, so consider walking to your nearby park or playing field for adequate space. Issues of trust, effective communication and goal-setting are all possible talking points at the conclusion of this exercise.

Pressure Cooker

Of this list, this is the big one and possibly the most challenging in terms of success/failure. You don’t need a lot of space other than n area to lay a set of rubber spots or mats on the floor with enough room between them for your group to move between them. Focus on issues of communication, planning, goal-setting, roles, critical thinking and trust in this one.

 

If you need help to plan and/or deliver these activities for your team, please reach out to us, we’re here to help.

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