There is no shortage of books and articles that discuss an endless array of group games and activities you can play with your team. But – here’s the kicker – you’re looking for fun team building activities that your group will love and not groan about, right?
In this article, you’ll discover a bunch of really fun group activities that I promise your team will enjoy playing. After working with thousands of people in 11 countries all over the world the past 30 years, I know these team building challenges work and people love them.
First, let’s explore why having fun is important in building the team skills of your group and which skills you can focus on in the activities I share below.
Teams Should Take Fun More Seriously
There are three things I have discovered when working with teams:
When there’s no fun, it’s difficult for people to engage in whatever they are doing. This applies as much as adults in a workplace as it does to young people at school;
When there’s no trust, people pull back from participating. This just makes sense, yet few workplaces actively and intentionally seek to build the trust of their employees. Absence or loss of trust manifests itself in many ways such as poor decision-making, half-hearted efforts and ineffective communication; and
When there’s no challenge, all you’re left with is boredom and routine. Sound familiar? This does not work well for teams.
The wonderful thing about experiential team building activities is that all three of these elements are present and can actively engage your group to become better team members. Think more harmonious and productive teams.
Fun is really hard to stand away from and it’s also contagious. It’s hard to look cool when everyone else is having a fun time. The activities described below will draw your group in and invite them to play, interact and share in a non-threatening manner. This approach is critical because this is how trust is developed – it must be attractive and inviting.
Then, as more and more trust is built, you can increase the challenge you pitch in each of these exercises to really stretch your group’s abilities. Be sure to click the links to view all of the step-by-step instructions, not to mention the video tutorials and popular variations you can present to give you ample ways to challenge your group.
Over time, with intention and consistency, you can expect to build the following team skills of your group, often referred to as the 4 x Cs:
Collaboration – many of the activities I share below will help your team to practice their teamwork skills and their ability to cooperate with one another. Be sure to invite your group to reflect on how they worked together successfully and how these skills can be applied to their workplace (or classroom.)
Creativity – most team building activities inspire groups to “think outside the box” and innovate to solve problems. Encourage your group to think creatively and try ideas that they have not applied before.
Critical Thinking – this is the domain of ideation, planning, brain-storming and decision-making processes. Again, team-building exercises are ideal for developing these skills because they can all be practised over and over and then applied to their ‘real-world’ setting.
Communication – as I say, practice makes perfect, and this applies equally to building more effective communication skills. Planning, decision-making, conflict resolution, feedback, etc all rely on good communication among your team members. Again, be sure to invite your team to reflect on what worked and what didn’t and then apply these lessons to their workplace.
Fun Team Building Activities To Get You Started
The following list is just a small sample many dozens of fun team building activities your teams will love. Enjoy!
Possibly one of the most engaging and enthralling team challenges we present to teams. Create small teams of 3 to 4 people and supply each with a limited provision of items including 20 sticks of spaghetti and 1m of masking tape. Each team is challenged to build the tallest tower they can with these materials in 20 mins, placing a marshmallow on top. It’s an extremely fun activity and will provide you with an opportunity to focus on creativity and critical thinking skills.
This exercise is quick, highly creative and interactive. You need nothing more than shoes on the feet of all of your team members. Create small teams and challenge them to build the tallest tower using just their shoes. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The record for building a tower out of 10 shoes is 86.5cm – what record will your team set?
Another viral team-building exercise, this time focused on leadership skills. You’ll need to start in a space where you can form one large circle, holding hands. Your group will be challenged to respond accurately to a series of commands you announce as quickly as possible. Expect many episodes of spontaneous bursts of laughter.
If you’re looking for a more significant team challenge, this is it. You don’t need a lot of space, just enough room for your team to move around one another without touching. Your group will be challenged to step on a pre-defined series of spots on the ground as quickly as possible. One spot per person and stopwatch is all you need. At the conclusion of the task, be sure to invite your group to reflect on topics of systems, collaboration and communication.
Are you more like a cat or a dog? A slide or a ladder? This simple activity is perfect if you’d like your team to focus on getting to know one another and celebrating diversity. There are literally 100s of variations you could introduce here, so click the link to views series of 12 or more questions to get started.
Grab a pack of cards and pass one card to every person in your group, but alert them not to look at it. Holding these cards on their forehead, your group is then instructed to interact with one another according to the perceived value of other people’s cards. This exercise is brilliant for opening conversations about the impact of our actions on other people. Be ready to debrief this one for sure.
Take your group outside for this one if it’s a sunny day. Break into small teams and challenge them to cast the longest connected shadow possible by using just their bodies. This is a wonderful exercise to inspire creativity and collaboration.
As bizarre as it is simple. Simply had small groups of 3 to 4 people sheets of paper and ask them to keep as many of them off the ground by pressing them between the bodies of any two of their team members. No sheets of paper can touch and each team has up to 10minutes to problem solve. Try to recycle old sheets of paper if you can.
A reminder, be sure to click the links above to download handy PDF instructions and watch all of the video tutorials to learn how to lead these team building activities your group will love.