We often get asked to help come up with ideas for team-building activities. This is something we particularly enjoy getting involved with. Over the last 20 years, we have taken part in, or run various fun, but productive, team building events.
Here are some of our favourites.
1 – Story Telling
Really quick, reasonably cheap and simple to implement. Suitable for teams from as small as 4 people and ends up being really good fun.
You provide the teams with bin bags filled with an assortment of general household items – ranging from 10-20 objects. In the past we’ve used wooden spoons, toy cars, water pistols, Barbie dolls, rubber ducks, torches, keys. You get the idea. Each team gets different items in their bag – and they don’t let the other team(s) know what’s in theirs.
You then send the teams away to different rooms / corners of the room for around 10 minutes. During this time, they have to write a story together, ensuring that every item in their bag is used.
Once the 10 minutes is up, they come back and present their story – showing each of their objects as they run through the story – to the rest of the team(s).
The end result is that those who have worked together obviously work and share and then the wider team also shares ideas on what’s worked best, what else they could have come up with etc.
This one can also be used as an ice-breaker if numbers are small.
2 – The Apprentice
More time-intensive to prepare and to run and works better with a larger team – as you need them to break down into smaller teams of at least 3/4. But more business-relevant and really helps people think outside of their normal working roles – just think – get the accountant in the team to come up with marketing / advertising etc!
You provide the teams with various items – this time all the same for each team. Examples could include chocolate, cooking / baking tools, paper, pens, camcorder etc.
The teams have half an hour (an hour if time allows) to devise a business plan, make their item, devise some marketing materials and ‘sell’ back to the rest of the teams afterwards.
You then act as the judge awarding the team with the best idea combined with teamwork and winning sales presentation.
3 – Pantomime
Again, this one works well if you’ve got quite a large audience – a senior management conference for example. And preferably needs to be run in a large venue – hotel / sports hall etc, not generally suited to your office environment.
This is particularly useful if you need to get people thinking about your company’s brand values or values & beliefs / desired behaviours.
You give each team a number of words (brand values for example) that they need to include in their script. Don’t worry if you haven’t got particular brand values or behaviours – you could use words that are important to your business (think outstanding customer service / value proposition / market leader, etc).
Ideally you should also provide dressing up costumes / props – leave them lying around the communal area and then it’s up to each team to take what they want – first come, first served!
They go away in their teams (minimum of 6 people each team) to completely separate rooms and write a script for a pantomime, ensuring they’ve got each of the words in. To make it even more tricky, you can even insist that they have to get certain props in to it too.
After around an hour (this often works best if you’re running a conference, do the team building exercise in the afternoon, have the dinner and then all the pantomimes take place afterwards), they come back and present to the rest of the teams. Again, offer a reward – we have given ‘Oscars’ to the winners plus a bottle of bubbly and wooden spoons to the last team.
4 – Guess the Brand
This is quite a quick one to run and is cost-effective.
Pull together some images of different (famous or your industry) brands / logos and / or slogans and they have to work together in teams (or pairs if numbers are small) to guess then brand.
Low cost, gets people talking and is light-hearted.
5 – It’s a Knockout
Good for a younger, more sporty team possibly and really only suitable during good weather.
Hire the obstacle course items, think of fun challenges and split people into teams pitted against one another. You’ll soon find people working together to overcome – pulling one another up walls / through water etc.
Probably not for the faint-hearted though!
6 – Building Bridges
Each team gets the same pile of supplies – paper, sellotape, string, scissors, drinking straws, pencils, etc.
The challenge is simple – build the strongest bridge (it has to take the weight of a toy car or the one that holds the most two pence coins) from the materials provided.
You’ll get people making really heavy structures, longer bridges etc. They have to work together – you have to make sure that when you go round the room to check on them, everyone’s having input.
7 – Lego / Sticklebricks!
This one is ideal for a team of people that could be from different departments or have newly formed as a team. Its purpose is to get them thinking together and appreciating that each role has an important part to play within the company. Often useful for example for accountants / sales or sales and marketing.
You provide a simple set of instructions on individual workstations (for example on workstation one it could be place one yellow brick either side of a blue one). You then read out a ‘customer order’ – for example ‘you have half an hour to produce 40 widgets’ – and you can show them an example of a ‘perfect’ widget.
The workstations are set up separately, each with their own instructions. You time the whole activity and you can throw in additional instructions, such as components can’t be moved from workstation two until there are 10 complete ones.
You then assign roles – people working on the shop floor (in production), people working in QA and packaging – non-perfect models are trashed.
You also have a works manager overseeing the process and a sales rep who is the only one allowed to ask the customer (you) questions.
Hope they help make your next event stress-free you and fun for your team!