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Team Building Activities: The Why & How

Maybe you have a lot of new employees who haven’t quite opened up yet. Or perhaps your team of seasoned workers have fallen prey to routine and have forgotten how to interact with the other members of the group. Whatever your reasoning for looking to icebreaker games or teambuilding activities, you’ve come to the right place.

When a team of co-workers come together to solve a problem that has nothing to do with their jobs outside of the activity, it forces them to think in new ways, and interact with each other in new ways, so that they begin to see each other as one entity, and not individual people. They can see the gears for the clock and how they work together to achieve something significant. These games can create lasting friendships while also increasing productivity and raising morale.

What’s The Goal?
Before you can begin to choose the right icebreaker game or team building activities for your group, you need to know what you are trying to accomplish. For example, a simple bean bag game where each person in the group introduces themselves and then a bean bag is tossed from person to person, the person throwing saying the name of the person catching as it goes, would not be a useful game to play if everyone in the group was already very familiar with each other. So what you are trying to accomplish directly affects what games or activities that will be most useful. The main goal of any group activity, above all others, is to teach everyone in the group what effect their own actions have on the group, and what effect the group’s actions have on themselves.

Creativity = Productivity
The more creative the game, and the more fun and silly it is, the more members of the group will laugh and start to open up. This is an essential aspect of any group activity and coming up with creative team building activities can even be fun for the person planning it. The icebreaker game or activity should make each member of the group forget about his or her role within the company, and only think about his or her role within the group participating. The more involved or challenging the activity, the more participation you will get.

Participation is Key
A team building activity could be the greatest and most creative activity ever thought of, but if no one is participating, then it doesn’t do the team much good. Even if just one person doesn’t participate at all, the idea of one person not participating can overshadow another’s desire to participate. Even if someone is shy, coax them into at least participating for a few minutes or have them do a small task like keep score if it is a point-based activity. This will achieve the overall goal of making a group of individuals actually think as a group.

Challenging But Achievable
A great icebreaker activity will be one that is challenging and makes the members of the group think, but not something that they would not be able to figure out on their own. If you had a team of writers or editors, you wouldn’t want to play a game that relied heavily on number crunching or math related word problems. Think about the level your group is at, and try to go just one step farther so as to challenge them but not cause frustration. Frustration will get you the exact opposite of what these types of activities are meant to do. A great activity will teach members of the group to rely on others when that person’s strengths are helpful to the group, and to offer up their own strengths when they will be needed by others.

So the next time you get to moderate a large meeting with unfamiliar faces, try an icebreaker game to help everyone learn a little something about each other and relieve some of the tension that might be in the room. And if a team that usually works great together starts getting a little edgy, try a team building activity to get those employees back to the group state of mind they were in before. Whether you are using an icebreaker game or a team building activity, you will get people smiling, and maybe even laughing. The group will feel more comfortable, and that will lead to more productivity, and maybe even a few friendships along the way.

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