Even if you’re constrained by time or financial considerations, there are lots of relatively quick, simple team building activities that can be held in the office. These kinds of activities can be great for kicking off smaller projects or meetings, or giving a kick start to everyone’s engagement by allowing them to break out of their daily routines.
This game can be played with a group of virtually any size. While it can work with smaller groups, it ideally works best with groups of five for six. Each team is provided with a piece of paper, a pencil, and a marker. They are then given five minutes to draw a specific part of the world — for example Europe, Asia, the United States, etc. Anywhere that could relate to the group and their territory. After five minutes, the teams then compare their maps! This game can be made more difficult by asking for capital cities to be added, or the difficulty can be reduced by providing a list of information such as countries or states that the the teams can work with. Depending on your organization, you might ask for information to be mapped that includes key customers, branch locations, or key markets. At the end, the correct version of the map is provided to see whose map is most accurate. Sometimes people surprise themselves with the maps they create!
Why it’s useful: This game can be used as a simple warm-up or ice breaker, or a simple team-building exercise. It’s also great for international businesses, to help educate their people about the areas they serve!
Why it’s fun: It’s surprising how many people it can take to draw a map, and everyone is generally eager to chime in with details of the map as it exists in their minds eye, making it easy for everyone to get involved and contribute.
This activity can be done with any size of group, although eight to twelve would be the ideal size. If the group is larger than fifteen people, then it should be split into smaller groups. The larger the groups, the longer the duration of the activity. Each team member receives a piece of paper and a pen or colored pencil, with each one being a different color. Each person should orient their paper to landscape orientation, then draw a stick-figure version of themselves on it, about two inches high. They should then legibly write or sign their name underneath it. Then the team members go around and ask other team members to add their stick figures and signatures to their paper. The activity is finished when all members have received the stick figures and signatures of everyone on their team.
In place of a stick figure, another option would be for each member of the team to create their own simple, quick, yet distinct symbol or logo to represent themselves.
Why it’s useful: This is a great way for everyone to get to know each other and — more importantly — remember their names! It also helps the team get insight into their teammates’ backgrounds and personalities, each each stick figure is different.
Why it’s fun: It lets people introduce themselves in a more engaging and less traditional manner. It also gives people who might otherwise be shy in social situations to share their personality and creativity!
The ‘Dalai Lama’ Personality Test
Originally a chain letter e-mail that started around the year 2000, the Dalai Lama personality test has nothing to do with the Dalai Lama or science, and is really just a bunch of nonsense. Nevertheless, it continues to be popular! To do the test each person has to answer the following questions:
1. Write down the following five animals in the order of your preference: Cow Tiger Sheep Horse Pig
2. Write one unique words to describe each of the following: Dog Cat Rat Coffee Sea
3. Write down the name of a different person whom you associate with each of these five colours. Each person must be someone you konw, and someone important to you): Yellow Orange Red White Green
For extra dramatic effect, encourage everyone to think carefully as they consider their answers. After all the answers are written down, you can reveal the interpretations….
1. Here is what each animal represents.
•Cow = CAREER
•Tiger = PRIDE
•Sheep = LOVE
•Horse = FAMILY
•Pig = MONEY
2. The descriptive words you wrote describe how you view or feel about:
•Dog = your own personality
•Cat = your partner
•Rat = your enemy
•Coffee = sex
•Sea = your life
3. The people whom you identify with each colour are as follows:
•Yellow = a person you will never forget
•Orange = a true friend
•Red = a person you really love
•White = your twin soul or soul-mate
•Green = someone who has a lot to teach you about yourself
Why it’s useful: Stuck in a long, boring meeting? Need to kill time waiting for someone to arrive, or for the IT guy to fix the projector? This can be a great way to have some quick fun together.
Why it’s fun: One only has to look at the internet to see how popular quizzes are! People are always curious to gain insights about themselves, even when the results are based in superstition or pseudo-science. It’s a fun, funny way to get everyone out of their routine roles with a quick game.
“Aim High” Paper Airplane Game
This is a great activity for a group that is younger or feels young-at-heart, encouraging them to set and commit to personal goals. First, each person in the group sets a short-term personal goal, one they feel is achievable. It could be anything — higher performance at work, better quality standards, personal fitness goals, or any of life’s other challenges! The team is then given some colored paper, markers, glitter, and stickers. Once everyone on the team has decided on their goals, they write them on the paper, along with a few steps on how they believe they will achieve it. Then, they make a paper airplane out of the paper! For those wishing to keep their goals private, they can fold their writing into the inside of the plane, keeping it out of sight.
After this, each member of the team passes their plane around to the other team members, each of whom write a positive or encouraging comment on the outside of the plane. Examples could be something like “You can do it!” or “Don’t give up!”. Once all comments have been written, each member then finishes decorating their planes. Then, as a team, the participants go outside to fly the planes!
Why it’s useful: Many experts argue that the act of writing down personal goals has tangible benefits. This activity also helps members visualize their goals ‘taking off’.
Why it’s fun: Participants enjoy the positivity from the other members of the group. It’s also a great chance for everyone to be creative, and unleash their inner child!
The Team Builder
This is an activity that works well with large groups — as few as thirty, or as many as over three hundred! If you have a large group and want everyone to mix up and meet, this activity may be useful, but it requires a lot of space, so you may need to get help moving chairs and/or tables to the side of the room.
The basis of the game is that the group will sort itself into different teams that you, the organizer, call out. For example, members could sort themselves by the month they were born (creating twelve teams), favorite color of the rainbow (choose between red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple), favorite taste (sweet, sour, bitter, salty), zodiac sign, eye color, hair color, etc.
Once organized into teams, each team must decide on a team motto, and elect a team leader. After this, you can have the teams compete in a short trivia contest – the questions could be about the company, about the city you’re in, or anything else you might feel is interesting or useful. Each team that correctly answers a question receives ‘point tickets’ for all their members. After the first short quiz is finished, the group is then re-divided according to a different category, and another quiz is given. At the end of the event, the individuals with the most point tickets are the winners!
Why it’s useful: This activity helps get people mixed up and talking to others outside their immediate circle. It can be especially effective in larger organizations where members of different departments often don’t know each other.
Why it’s fun: It gives participants a chance to learn more about the other people they work with, and possibly make new friends!
For more ideas about team building check out our blog.