I’ve worked as an experiential trainer for 30+ years, so I am always on the lookout for new and unique team building activities. I’m also fully aware that new is relative, so what is new to me may not be to you.
In the spirit of ‘a good idea doesn’t care who it belongs to,’ this article will introduce you to a series of ‘new’ team-building activities that have been recently uploaded to playmeo’s activity database.
First, let’s explore why having fun is important in building the team skills of your group, no matter how unique their experience may be.
If It’s Fun, It’s Worth Doing
After working with thousands of people all over the world, I have discovered three things about what makes a team-building program work:
It has to befun, otherwise, it’s difficult for your staff or students to engage in whatever you want them to do. Fun team-building activities just work;
You must intentionally build trust, otherwise, people will pull back from participating fully which always leads to poor outcomes. This just makes sense, yet few workplaces actively and intentionally seek to build the trust of their staff. Absence or loss of trust manifests itself in many ways such as poor communication and decision-making and disengaged members; and
Always err on the side ofchallenge, otherwise, all you’re left with is boredom and routine which are clearly not new or unique.
The wonderful thing about team building activities is that all three of these elements are present and can actively engage your group to become better team members, especially when the experiences are new or unique.
Fun is often contagious and really hard to stand away from. It’s also hard to look cool when everyone else is having a fun time. The activities described below will engage your group quickly and invite them to play, interact and share in a non-threatening manner. This approach is critical because this is the only way trust can be developed – it must be attractive and inviting.
Then, as more and more trust is built, you can increase the inherent challenge of these activities to really stretch your group’s abilities. Happily, 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 – this skill can be practised in every one of the activities I share below. Be sure to invite your group to reflect on how well they worked together and how these skills can be applied to their workplace (or classroom.)
Creativity – most team building activities can be solved in multiple ways, so encourage your group to think creatively and try solutions that they have not applied before.
Critical Thinking – again, team-building challenges are ideal for developing these skills because they can all be practised over and over again, and then importantly, applied to the ‘real world.’
Communication – no matter how unique, every team-building activity can be designed to build more effective communication skills. Planning, decision-making, conflict resolution, feedback, etc all rely on exercising good communication skills. As for all activities, be sure to invite your team to reflect on what worked and what didn’t and then apply these lessons to their workplace.
Sometimes the most unusual ideas are the best. Divide into small teams of 3 to 4 people and give them just 5 minutes find a way to keep as many sheets of paper off the ground and not touching as possible. Expect some seriously fun and unique ways to solve this problem. Check out the video tutorial for some good laughs.
Take your group outside on a sunny day and break them into small groups of 6 to 10 people. Instruct each group to create the longest, continuous shadow using only their bodies. One person starts behind a common line and the winner is the team with the longest shadow. Wonderfully creative and a classic in the making.
While this exercise is typically very quick, if you really want to challenge your group, give them more time, and perhaps even limit their access to the number of shoes they can use. Building the tallest tower out of shoes is what makes this exercise so unique and fun to play.
This ‘test’ is one of our most bizarre and creative team building games with no materials. You need no props, it works with any number of people (the more the merrier) and is guaranteed to trigger bursts of laughter. This exercise is simply an invitation for your group to demonstrate a series of unique finger and body stunts such as clicking your fingers, plopping your cheek with an extended finger, raising one eyebrow at a time, etc. Click the link to view a fascinating video of some of the most unusual things some people can perform.
It is highly unlikely that you, or your team, will have experienced this group initiative before. Form small teams of 3 to 4 people and equip each one with a roll of duct tape and challenge each of the teams to suspend one of their members on a wall for 10 seconds using the tape as the only form of adhesive available. Simply hilarious.
As I write this in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, one of the most recent and unusual aspects of any team-building program is experiencing it online with a virtual audience.