Huddle » Blog » Collaboration & productivity » 10 Quick and Easy Team Building Activities [Part 1]

10 Quick and Easy Team Building Activities [Part 1]

Posted on 02 Sep, 2009 by in Collaboration & productivity | 63 comments

There are many different reasons why companies use team building activities. A small sampling of these reasons include: Improving communication, boosting morale, motivation, ice breakers to help get to know each other better, learning effective strategies, improving productivity, learning about one’s strengths and weaknesses and many others. Team building activities can be used by any business, large or small, to promote better teamwork in the workplace, and as most business owners and managers know, great teamwork is one of the key factors associated with a company’s success.

There are four main types of team building activities, which includes: Communication activities, problem solving and/or decision making activities, adaptability and/or planning activities, and activities that focus on building trust. The idea is to perform various activities that are both fun and challenging, and that also have the “side effect” of building teamwork skills that can help improve employee performance and productivity at the office. In this first installment, we’ll take a look at 10 highly effective team building activities designed to improve communication and problem solving skills. These 10 team building activities will have your company well on its way to building a team of peers that work well together, are productive and have a renewed focus. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series where we’ll focus on 10 team building exercises designed to improve employee planning skills and building trust within a team of peers.

Team building activities:

Communication and Icebreakers

Two Truths and a Lie
Time Required: 15-30 minutes

Start out by having every team member secretly write down two truths about themselves and one lie on a small piece of paper – Do not reveal to anyone what you wrote down! Once each person has completed this step, allow 10-15 minutes for open conversation – much like a cocktail party – where everyone quizzes each other on their three questions. The idea is to convince others that your lie is actually a truth, while on the other hand, you try to guess other people’s truths/lies by asking them questions. Don’t reveal your truths or lie to anyone – even if the majority of the office already has it figured out! After the conversational period, gather in a circle and one by one repeat each one of your three statements and have the group vote on which one they think is the lie. You can play this game competitively and award points for each lie you guess or for stumping other players on your own lie. This game helps to encourage better communication in the office, as well as it lets you get to know your coworkers better.

Life Highlights Game
Time Required: 30 minutes

This is an excellent icebreaker activity that’s perfect for small and large groups alike. Begin by asking each participant to close their eyes for one minute and consider the best moments of their lives. This can include moments they’ve had alone, they’ve shared with family or friends; these moments can pertain to professional successes, personal revelations, or exciting life adventures. After the participants have had a moment to run through highlights of their lives, inform them that their search for highlights is about to be narrowed. Keeping their eyes closed, ask each participant to take a moment to decide what 30 seconds of their life they would want to relive if they only had thirty seconds left in their life. The first part of the activity enables participants to reflect back on their lives, while the second part (which we’ll discuss in a moment) enables them to get to know their coworkers on a more intimate level. The second portion of the game is the “review” section. The leader of the activity will ask each and every participant what their 30 seconds entailed and why they chose it, which will allow participants to get a feel for each other’s passions, loves, and personalities.

Coin Logo
Time Required: 5-10 minutes

Begin by asking all participants to empty their pockets, purses, and wallets of any coins they may have and place them on the table in front of them. If someone doesn’t have any coins or only has very few, others in the room can share their coins with them. Instruct each person to create their own personal logo using the coins in front of them in just one minute. Other materials they may have on them, such as pens, notebooks, wallets, etc. can also be used in creation of the logo. If there is a particularly large group, people can be broken up into teams of 3-6 people and instructed to create a logo that represents them as a team or the whole room can gather to use the coins to create a logo for the organization/group/department/etc. Each solitary participant can explain their logo to the group or if the room was split into groups, the leader can have each group discuss what led to the team logo and what it says about them. Not only does this activity promote self and mutual awareness, but it also enables participants to get to know each other on a more personal level.

The One Question Ice Breaker Activity
Time Required: 15-20 minutes

This icebreaker not only gets coworkers talking to each other, but it also gets them working with one another. It’s quite simple: the leader gets to decide the situation the question will pertain to. Example situations include babysitting, leading the company, or being married. After pairing participants into teams, the leader will pose this question: If you could ask just one question to discover a person’s suitability for (insert topic here), what would your question be? Say the leader chose to go with a marriage situation. That means each person in a two-person team would come up with one question that would help them discover whether or not their partner was suitable to be married to them. If the topic was babysitting, each team member would have to come up with just one question whose answer would help them determine whether or not the person was suitable to babysit their child. This icebreaking activity can also get mixed up by issuing one situation for the entire group or allocating a different situation to each team member or pair to work on. Depending on the situation chosen, the activity can be very fun, but it can also demonstrate that crucial questions should be developed properly.

Classification Game
Time Required: 10-15 minutes

The classification game can be a quick icebreaker or a more complex activity. For the purposes of this example, we will treat this activity as a quick icebreaker. Before splitting the room into teams of four, explain the concept of “pigeon-holing someone,” which means classifying someone as something or stereotyping someone. It should be made clear that this type of classification is subjective and unhelpfully judgmental. Instruct the participants to introduce themselves to those in their team and quickly discuss some of their likes, dislikes, etc. After the introductions, reveal to the teams that it will be their job to discover how they should classify themselves- as a team- into two or three subgroups by using criteria that contains no negative, prejudicial, or discriminatory judgments. Examples of these subgroups can include night owls and morning people, pineapple pizza lovers and sushi lovers, etc. This activity encourages coworkers to get to know each other better and enables them to collectively consider the nature of all individuals within the team.

Problem Solving

Picture Pieces Game
Time Required: 30 minutes

This problem solving activity requires that the leader choose a well known picture or cartoon that is full of detail. The picture needs to be cut into as many equal squares as there are participants in the activity. Each participant should be given a piece of the “puzzle” and instructed to create an exact copy of their piece of the puzzle five times bigger than its original size. They are posed with the problem of not knowing why or how their own work affects the larger picture. The leader can pass out pencils, markers, paper, and rulers in order to make the process simpler and run more smoothly. When all the participants have completed their enlargements, ask them to assemble their pieces into a giant copy of the original picture on a table. This problem solving activity will teach participants how to work in a team and it demonstrates divisionalized ‘departmental’ working, which is the understanding that each person working on their own part contributes to an overall group result.

Sneak a Peek Game
Time Required: 10 minutes

This problem solving activity requires little more than a couple of sets of children’s building blocks. The instructor will build a small sculpture with some of the building blocks and hide it from the group. The participants should then be divided into small teams of four. Each team should be given enough building material so that they can duplicate the structure you’ve already created. The instructor should then place their sculpture in an area that is an equal distance from all the groups. One member from each team can come up at the same time to look at the sculpture for ten seconds and try to memorize it before returning to their team. After they return to their teams, they have twenty-five seconds to instruct their teams about how to build an exact replica of the instructor’s sculpture. After one minute of trying to recreate the sculpture, another member from each team can come up for a “sneak a peek” before returning to their team and trying to recreate the sculpture. The game should be continued in this pattern until one of the team’s successfully duplicates the original sculpture. This game will teach participants how to problem solve in a group and communicate effectively.

Zoom
Time Required: 30 minutes

This problem solving activity requires the wordless, picture book entitled, “Zoom” by Istvan Banyai. This book features 30 sequential pictures that work together to form a narrative. The book should be fairly easy to find, as it’s been published in over 18 countries. The pictures can even be laminated to prolong their usage. Hand out one picture to each participant, making sure a continuous sequence is being used. Explain to the participants that they can only look at their own pictures and must keep their picture hidden from other participants. Time should be given for the participants to study their pictures because each picture will contain important information that will help the participants solve the problem of putting them into order. The ultimate goal is for the group to place the pictures in sequential order without looking at one another’s pictures. The participants can talk to each other and discuss what is featured in their picture. This activity brings coworkers together and gets them communicating with the common goal of solving a problem, but it also allows for leaders to emerge and take control of the task.

The Great Egg Drop
Time Required: 2 hours

This messy, yet classic and engaging problem solving activity requires splitting the room into two large groups with the task of building an egg package that can sustain an eight foot drop. A variety of tools and other materials should be provided to the teams. After the packages have been built, each team must also present a 30-second advert for their package, highlighting why it’s unique and how it works. At the conclusion of the presentations, each group will have to drop their egg using their package to see if it really works. Aside from teaching the groups to work together and communicate, it also brings them together with the common goal of both winning the egg drop and successfully creating an egg package.

Create your Own Team Building Activities
Time Required: 1 hour

The group leader should present participants with this fake problem: The hour was going to be spent doing a problem solving activity, but as the group leader- you don’t know any and you don’t want to do one that the participants have already heard or tried previously. The goal- or problem- then, is to have each group of participants come up with a new problem solving activity that they’ve invented themselves. Groups should be no larger than four or five people and at the end of the hour, each group must come up and present their new problem solving activity. Aside from being a problem solving activity in and of itself, this activity also promotes creativity, communication, trust, and time management, among other things.

Learn more about team building, including what to avoid, in our new blog post about collaborative working.

See how teams can collaborate more effectively in your company in this free ‘Effective business collaboration‘ Whitepaper.

Download Collaboration white paper

63 Comments

  1. Lisa

    September 28, 2009 at 7:07 am

    I like those activities you mentioned. Team building activities is important to enhance employee working skills as well as their relationship skills. It’s also a good break from all the stress in work. We had a great experience with Ripe Stuff. They were able to help us with our communication skills as well as conflict resolution.

  2. Bhaskar

    October 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Great Job. Very Useful.

  3. Noah

    January 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    very interesting and engaging activites!!

  4. Hiker

    February 23, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I like the idea of Zoom. That one looks like everyone could participate easily in a group activity. Very nice ideas!

  5. Greg Stockton

    February 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I really enjoyed your blog about team building exercises for employees. It gave practical application to a number of communications theories that we have been studying in a grad course I have this semester. By using these exercises and others to build a cohesive team even though everyone has a different personality and way of communicating. ” We understand interpersonal communication as relational nurture, with the assumption that relationships need to grow and change and negotiate a variety of complex dialectical tensions” (Baxter & Montgomery, 1996). Although these exercises fit more of a “compulsory” style of small group, they could be used to improve team building and communication skills in “voluntary” groups as well, “In the case of voluntary groups, a number of people resolve to define and address a common purpose by working together. A compulsory group, by contrast, has its origin in the directives of one or more persons who require individuals to join a group.” (HCE, Chapter 10, p.150)

    “In other groups, such as some workplaces, the prevailing norms stress rigid structure, sharp role differences, and clear lines of authority.”,(HCE, Chapter 10, p.155). There are many types of workgroups that are very narrow in their focus and exercises and training like this can help with bonding the members and relieve stress and anxiety when more authoratative small group structure is the norm.

    I worked for a very large corporation up until a few years ago, and through the years, they had tried several different quality management programs within our facility. I can’t remember the names of all of the programs, but a lot of them had committees and workgroups forming to work on various issues in our respective areas. And most of those started out with some sort of activities like these either initially or as a regular part of the program. It was all very interesting in its conception and mixed in it’s results unfortunately. Thanks for the great article and I look forward to reading more.

    Greg Stockton, Drury University grad student
    http://www.drury.edu

    May, Steve; Munshi, Debashish; Cheney, George (2011-02-18). The Handbook of Communication Ethics (ICA Handbook Series) (p. 150-155). T & F Books US. Kindle Edition.

    Ronald C. Arnett;Janie Harden Fritz;Leeanne M. Bell. Communication Ethics Literacy: Dialogue and Difference (Kindle Locations 1716-1717). Kindle Edition.

  6. Sean

    February 24, 2012 at 1:01 am

    Thanks for sharing the ideas above. I would absolutely agree that the use of these and similar activities can be used to build trust and teamwork, but also feel they must be part of a more comprehensive plan – and “debriefed” competently – to derive any true impact and lasting lessons from them.

  7. Aquila

    March 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    This is awesome! I’ve searched many sites for age-appropriate communication activities for my students and this is by far the most useful. I’m so happy! Thank you!

  8. sean

    April 25, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    What a terrific list of activities-

    Thanks for the resources… I especially like the “sneak peek” idea and how it might be modified for any number of different situationa or purposes.

  9. anne diaz

    July 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    love it! very useful for my seminar

  10. neetu

    August 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    i love it…….

  11. Anamika

    August 21, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Ya…they are really very nice.

  12. Nicole

    September 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    These are great, but what are some good ones for teams that are nationwide. I have no one on my team in my office and we’ve done the two truths and a lie so many times, we need something fresh. Any ideas?

  13. Cat

    October 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I really love the “Sneek a Peek” Game. It shows that even if you THINK you have communicted clearly what you meant, others still might interprete it differently. It always depends on which perspective are you taken in.

    @Nicole: If your team is Nationwide, check out the Game “Three in Common” on my website.
    It focuses on finding similarities and differences of one each other but exclude such normal things like gender, age etc.

  14. Lynn Ferguson-Pinet

    October 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    Great post, managers need resources to try things themselves.

    Thanks!

  15. Martin Popebeard

    January 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    OMG LOL OMG OMG sooooooooo funny

  16. Lillybeth

    January 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    These are neat ideas but i’m looking for some activities for our staff meeting of 100 people. Do you have any activities for large groups and 15 minute max time?

  17. RB prabu

    January 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Excellent

  18. Nate

    January 12, 2013 at 8:10 am

    I’m interested in using your GREAT EGG DROP idea. I’m a school administrator looking for a fun and different idea to use with our students during the first days of school to encourage them to connect with each other. I’d like to have suggestions about the kinds of materials that should be used for this EGG DROP. Any suggestions? I’d really appreciate your creative help! Thanks

  19. Rishi Chowdhury

    January 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Cloth, straws, tape, bin bags, newspaper, string & something to clean up the floor just in case!

  20. beth herndon

    January 15, 2013 at 12:05 am

    thanks for posting these activities

  21. Rishi Chowdhury

    January 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    No problem Beth

  22. Lauren Rosenberg

    January 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

    thanks for this, very helpful!

  23. Lauren Rosenberg

    January 24, 2013 at 6:08 am

    These are great and very helpful, thanks!

  24. Eric

    January 29, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Thanks for Sharing! Team Building is alot of Fun.

  25. Maria Reyero

    February 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Fantastic resource, thank you very much for posting!

  26. Maggie S

    February 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    I really enjoyed these ideas! I am working on starting my own blog now and just posted something about team bonding! I am a collegiate athlete and really want to get my information out there! Any Tips?
    @MaggieStrange (if you have a twitter)

  27. Teach/Build/Educate Your Team Part 2 | Qualities of Good Leaders

    March 18, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    [...] 10 Quick and Easy Team Building Exercises for Improving Communication and Problem Solving [...]

  28. Moses

    April 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Excellent staff

  29. peter

    April 22, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Really helpful Teambuilding Events. Keep it up.

  30. marta

    May 2, 2013 at 3:05 am

    great!

  31. Angi Senatus

    May 3, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Hello I like the site, coin logo worked well for an activity I used. I also borrowed some ideas from www [dot] funicebreaker [dot] com

    Happy planning everyone!

  32. Jon

    May 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    YESSSSS!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. gurjiv

    May 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    fantastic

  34. Praveen

    June 6, 2013 at 12:49 am

    That’s a great article rishi, i like the eight foot egg drop in team building activity, making an egg survive that fall should be challengin and fun at the end. I hope if you have any team building activity that covers half a day or an activity thats more than 2 hours, good effort on this article i like it.

    Praveen
    http://www.workehow.com

  35. sowmya raghav

    June 6, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Thank you sharing your ideas

  36. Jill Emery

    June 11, 2013 at 1:53 am

    OMG! I have been searching and searching, but finally no more. This is the easiest, best site I found so far! Please keep the ideas coming as I put you on my favorites!

  37. ian

    June 12, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Thank you so much for this information. We (www.tbae.co.za) are a team building company in South Africa and we will definitely incorporate some of these activities into our programme

  38. om

    July 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    interesting

  39. srishti

    July 16, 2013 at 7:09 am

    liked the ‘coin logo’

  40. manoj kumar (peter)

    July 18, 2013 at 8:02 am

    very well illustrated, about the importance of team building activity.

  41. Robert Manolson

    July 19, 2013 at 12:49 am

    What I’ve learned over the years as a Team Building Facilitator is that there is greater value in delivering team building activities that are successive in nature and building higher levels of momentum from one activity to the next. In short, take your workshop participants on a magical ride of activities that are naturally connecting, from one activity to the next activity, each taking the intent of the team building day ie. improving communication, to higher levels of engagement and higher levels of fun. Begin small and intimate, allowing individual exploration and culminate with big fun group activities…all connected from beginning to end.

  42. Craig Wagganer

    July 19, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Great ideas. Very valuable thoughts and great to hear others that see the value in team building. I love the illustrations.
    Craig

  43. Craig

    July 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Just reread the article and took some notes. Games are a great way for people to get involved and learn valuable lessons on Team Building. I use a lot of them in my team building events. You can see them at http://leadersbridge.com/team-building/

    Thanks for the ideas,
    Craig
    leadersbridge.com

  44. Austin Nicholas

    August 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks a lot Rishi for this fantastic post. The examples you gave are excellent examples of ‘classroom style’ team building activities to encourage communication between delegates in a meeting and also kick start a meeting in an engaging and informal manner. I manage an experience agency where we attempt to run team building activities as stand alone events. We are constantly trying to conjure up new and innovative ideas – these include playing the game of snakes and ladders using the city itself as the board, Graffiti workshops and Make Your Own Film Experience. You can view some of these ideas on http://www.traveloutthere.com/team-building-ideas. It would be great to get some feedback on some of these ideas and we will certainly aim to implement some of your ideas in our icebreaker and engergiser activities. Thanks once again.

  45. John Davis

    August 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    These are great suggestions. I use some similar ones in some of my programs. My most effective programs have been my Action Hero Bootcamp where we marry physical action with bonding experiences. You can check them out here:http:www.corporateactionhero.com

  46. Mildred

    August 17, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Thanks for this post. I would like to run the Picture Pieces and Sneak a Peak Games with my team. I wonder if you can help me with the debrief questions. I just to make sure that I ask the correct questions to maximize learning.

  47. Rishi Chowdhury

    August 19, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Sure Mildred, try these:

    What part of this activity involved teamwork?
    What did each person in your group do to help?
    Why is teamwork important when working with a group?
    What are some important elements of teamwork?
    How can being good at teamwork help you in your daily life?

  48. mike

    August 26, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Hi Rishi,

    Thanks for the good article and I particularly like the icebreakers that you chose.

    Regards

    Mike

    barcelonaeventorganisation.com

  49. Gwen

    August 28, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Rishi,
    I teach a leadership course at a University in GA. I am always looking for new ways to get my class engaged and working together. I have tried your Zoom suggestion and it has been a big hit. Thank you so much for the ideas.

    Gwen

  50. Rishi Chowdhury

    August 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    No problem Gwen, glad it went down well!

  51. jscob P

    August 31, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Hi Rishi, nice content. Do you have any ideas where to buy teambuilding matrials in europe? I mean the actual planks etc.?

    Best regards Aha Jacob Palmqvist

  52. brian

    September 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I love the ideas, I also believe that in teambuilding we should know the difference between builders and destroyers. The Construction Team Vs. The Demolition Team. It a great concept to incorporate

  53. Arc Eugene Lucas

    September 12, 2013 at 6:29 am

    it is a bright ideas for having a better team. thanks for the guide. I know that after applying this in our team will be the better ones

  54. Hillary

    September 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I was wondering who I am supposed to give credit to for this article? Is it you? I am using your coin logo activity in a group counseling class as my presentation. Thank you, by the way.

  55. Fradley Croft

    September 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Some great ideas here Rishi, the egg drop game is one that we as a team building company have also used in the past on some of our events.

  56. Wambui

    September 20, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I just did the Life Highlights game with my team and it was FABULOUS! my team shared such deep things and opened up to special moments in their lives. It helped us appreciate one another more and got to know one another more.

  57. Michelle

    September 25, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Great ideas – thanks for sharing. Another great one we ran at our last team meeting (hence why I’m looking for more ideas) was the Marshmallow Challenge – definitely worth googling and giving it a try. Excellent fun and some interesting learning insights too.

  58. Matt @ The Build

    October 15, 2013 at 1:22 am

    Excellent list, Rishi! There are a ton of great ideas here, and they’re laid out in a very clear manner. Thank you for sharing!

  59. Stuart Young

    November 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Some great ideas here – and each acts as a catalyst to create my own ideas. Incorporating some NLP visualisation techniques into some of these would be powerful. Excellent share Rishi – thanks. :)

  60. Elwood Soble

    January 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Splendid article, thanks a bunch for sharing.

  61. Alan Little

    August 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    An excellent article that outlines the need for people to work together.

  62. Cokrowinoto

    November 4, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Great article. Just wondering if there is a part II. Excellent work.

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