Management Team Building Activity Ideas & Advice

It can be tough to be a manager, especially of large teams. You’re focused on looking after your team, but who’s looking after you and sharpening your saw? This article will share ten essential ingredients of managing successful teams and a bunch of fun and simple-to-use management team building activity ideas you can use today.


Managing A Successful Team


Your employees are more than just a group of people thrown together who happen to work in the same place. When managed well, they can perform like a well-oiled machine, a team, working together towards a common goal (which you will note below is one of the key ingredients of success.)

This does not mean that every person in every team likes each other. Rarely. But the key behind every successful team is their ability to manage conflict gracefully. And this is where your role as a manager is so crucial. With your guidance and the delivery of occasional team-building programs, you can expect your team to work more cohesively together.


Ingredients of a Successful Team


There are volumes written about what constitutes a successful team. Let me save you a lot of time – here’s is my top ten list of attributes, of every successful team I have either managed or lead over the past 30 years.

  • Clarity in Team Goals – help your team understand a set of clear, agreed and attainable goals to work towards.
  • An Improvement Plan – there is always room for improvement, so no team should ever rest on their laurels.
  • Clearly Defined Roles – every team member must know their particular role and how to leverage their talents to deliver their role.
  • Clear Communication – the more effective their communication, the less conflict you will have to manage and the more you team will get done.
  • Beneficial Team Behaviours – help your team create a set of parameters that frame their collective behaviours and expectations. Consider implementing a working agreement (eg Full Value Contract) for guidance to get started.
  • Well-defined Decision Procedures – establish a clear system of decision-making protocols. Don’t micro-manage, but don’t let you team flounder either.
  • Balance Participation – engage and empower every member of your team to feel valued and invite their contribution, at all times, no matter their role or seniority. The more people feel involved, the more they will buy into the vision of what you’re trying to get done.
  • Establish Ground Rules – this is related to beneficial team behaviours, but is focused primarily on building and nourishing a productive team culture. It takes time, and it requires your leadership to manage these rules.
  • Awareness of Group Process – yes, you are the manager, but help your team understand that the health of the team is everyone’s responsibility, not just yours.
  • Use Evidence-Based Approach – stick to the facts and the evidence when managing your team. It can be easy to get sucked into a “he-said-she-said” vortex, but work with observable data at all times, to help you make good decisions, especially when assumptions are involved.


Team Building Activity Ideas


The following activities have been chosen for three reasons: they are easy to present, they work for almost all types of groups and ages and they are perfect vehicles for team managers to actively participate as well.

The activities are listed in order of difficulty, starting with the simplest to the most complex or dynamic.


1. Categories

When your team discovers and understands the fact that every team member is an individual and has many things in common with others, things just work more smoothly. This exercise is a simple no-prop style exercise that helps people discover many attributes that they share in common with others and those which they don’t. Fun and useful as a conversation starter to build relationships.

2. Making Connections

Humans are wired to connect, and when we do, everything just works better. This is a great example of one of our many team building icebreakers for meetings to help your team get to know one another better, in a fun, non-threatening way. You start by announcing something that you like or have done, and then the first person to link arms with you to suggest that they, too, have done this can announce the next connection opportunity. Expect lots of laughter and good vibes from this one.

3. Jump In Jump Out

You’ll need a little bit of open space for this active exercise, enough space to form a large circle by holding hands. Expect many bursts of spontaneous laughter, but JIJO is more than just a fun time – look for opportunities to discuss effective leadership and what is means to say one thing but do another. The video tutorial for this exercise is our most viral yet, check it out.

4. Marshmallow Challenge

You may have heard about this popular team-building exercise, but never participated in it. Be sure to get involved if you choose to present it to your team. In small groups, your team will be invited to create the tallest possible structure they can in 20 minutes using limited resources. Expect to discuss issues about assumptions, roles, leadership and problem-solving.

5. Pressure Cooker

This is a truly fun, highly interactive team-building group initiative, but it’s also a wonderful metaphor for how teams work, or not. In short, your team is asked to coordinate their movements to follow a series of consecutive patterns of spots on the ground, all at the same time. As your team’s leader, observe what happens during the planning stages and when frustration sets in. Be prepared to lead your group to a successful resolution and help them understand how they can manage these issues themselves, ie without you.


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