“Team building,” according to the website The Balance Careers, can be defined as the process of turning a group of individual contributing employees into a cohesive team. A team is a group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet the needs of their customers by accomplishing their purpose and goals.
Your diverse employees do not automatically develop a team attitude, even when they are working together day in and day out. After all, they have been hired individually, and their personalities and styles may not mesh naturally. With a little encouragement, however, any group of people can learn to function as a team. This type of attitude will boost your organization’s performance and results—so a small amount of effort spent on in-house team building activities is a good investment of any manager’s time and attention.
Knowing how to build a successful team is an essential skill for any manager. This critical skill can be learned through programs such as Washington State University’s Online Master of Business Administration. Offering a top-quality online curriculum that opens the door to many MBA career paths and opportunities, WSU’s Online MBA degree program prepares graduates to head effective teams and offers a solid foundation for success.
Before a diverse group of people can become an effective team, they need to feel a bond. These fun bonding activities can get employees on the same page.
- Eat out. A full-team lunch where everyone can sit and talk without worrying about work can be a great bonding opportunity. Hint: It’s even better if the boss picks up the tab! For best results, attendance should be mandatory—it’s no good if 1 or 2 employees stay back at the office and skip the camaraderie.
- Have a potluck. Yes, more eating. For this one, have all of your employees sign up to bring a food item to an in-office lunch. Number 1, this will be delicious and you’ll get to taste many new things. Number 2, potlucks come with built-in conversation starters: “I have to get this recipe from you! Where did you find it?” Allow a little extra eating and chatting time so your employees can relax and get to know each other.
- Community service. If your team is so inclined, community service outings can be great ways to spend time with each other while doing social good. Survey employees first to gauge interest and solicit suggestions for causes to support. Whether your team helps out at a soup kitchen or collects trash from roadways, employees will share a feeling of accomplishment—and that will create bonds that extend beyond the office.
- Company coat of arms. Divide your employees into teams of 3 or 4 people each. Give each team a piece of paper and some colored pencils. Instruct them to come up with a “coat of arms” for your company. Images to include would be things reflecting the company’s mission, values, products, and history. This activity will help employees to identify and agree upon the things that are most important to your company, which in turn will be a bonding experience.
Your team won’t really bond until they know each other a little bit. Try these “get-to-know-you” activities to break down professional barriers and promote interpersonal appreciation.
- Memory wall. Come up with a list of work-related topics, such as “My First Day,” “Teamwork,” “Work Travel,” and so on. Each team member chooses a topic, then writes a memory related to that topic on a piece of printer paper. Read all the stories out loud when everyone is done writing. Then post the memories publicly to form a “Memory Wall” that everyone can read and enjoy at their leisure.
- Show and tell. Everyone loved Show and Tell as a kid, but how long has it been since you’ve played this game? Adult Show and Tell is even more fun because we have more stuff and better stories! Ask your team members to bring in a special possession, then explain its story to their co-workers.
- 2 truths, 1 lie. How well do you really know your co-workers? You’re about to find out! Have each person tell the group 3 things about themselves. 2 of the things are true; 1 is a lie. Can the other team members identify the lie?
Diverse employees must be able to work together to achieve maximum results in the office. These collaboration activities will encourage teamwork and boost employees’ ability to work as a team.
- Minefield. Use boxes, office chairs, water bottles, and the like to create an obstacle course of "mines." Divide the group into pairs, where 1 partner is blindfolded. The other partner must guide that person from one end of the course to another without setting off any mines. People doing the guiding cannot enter the course and must use only verbal instructions to get their partner through.
- Shark tank. Can teams of employees come up with a great new product that will earn the “shark’s” approval? Everyone can let their imagination run wild on this activity. Collaboration is the key to success!
- Scavenger hunt. This game is a classic for a reason—it’s fun! Make a list of items that can be found in and around your organization. Divide employees into teams of 2 or 3 people each. Set the teams loose to roam the premises and find all of the items on the list. By working together, teams will move faster and be more successful.
- Egg drop. Divide employees into teams of 3 or 4 people. Provide a big stack of office supplies and raw eggs and ask employees to come up with their most ingenious contraptions for protecting the eggs. When all teams have had an adequate amount of time to work, drop the protected eggs from a height. Whose eggs will survive? Effective collaboration will win the day in this fun event!
How effectively does your team communicate? These activities will help you to find out—and will help your employees improve their communication skills.
- Salt and pepper. Come up with several matching pairs of words, like “salt and pepper,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “stop and go,” and so on. Write each word on an index card. Then tape 1 index card to each employee’s back. Employees must ask each other yes-or-no questions to figure out the word on their card. Then they must try to find the person whose word matches their own. Good communication skills will help in this funny game.
- Plane crash. Imagine that a plane carrying your team has crashed on a desert island. Have the team choose 12 items from around the office that they think would be most useful in their survival, ranking each item in order of importance. Everyone will have to share their thoughts and opinions to get this task done.
- Blind objects. Split your employees into teams of 2. One team member gets blindfolded. The other team member must verbally direct the blindfolded partner to find, pick up, and return a certain object. Time each team as they complete this activity. The quickest team is the winner!
Lighten the Mood
Team building activities don’t need to have a deep goal. Sometimes it’s just fun to lighten the mood and give people a chance to laugh and smile. Try these funny activities to give your team a boost.
- Lip-sync battle. This popular activity is like karaoke on steroids. Each team member should choose a song they love. Play the song and let the team member do their very best lip-sync rendition of the number. The more outrageous and realistic, the better! Have everyone vote at the end to crown the “Lip-Sync Champion.”
- Company trivia. Come up with a list of 20 trivia questions about your company. What’s the brand name of the coffee maker in the kitchen? How many people named John work for the organization? What color is the carpet in the conference room? See who will be your company’s trivia master!
- Human knot. This activity is just silly! Have all of your employees stand in a bunch. Everyone holds hands with any random people—both hands, so that all hands are held. Then they try to untangle themselves to form the biggest possible circle. It might not work all that well, but there are bound to be lots of giggles when trying—and the team feeling from laughter will be just the boost your employees need.
About WSU’s Online Master of Business Administration Program
To effectively build and lead your team, consider advanced education. Washington State University’s Carson College of Business delivers one of the top-ranked MBA programs in the nation. WSU offers an Online MBA course curriculum designed to equip students with the tactics, knowledge, skills, strategies, and other resources utilized by today’s high-profile business leaders.
WSU’s Online MBA degree program offers several MBA concentrations—marketing, finance, hospitality business management, international business, and general MBA. For more information, visit WSU’s Online MBA website.
Team building definition – The Balance Careers
Team building activities – Wrike Blog