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For a team to get things done, individuals must be willing to act as one, cooperating toward a common cause. No matter how good the team members’ intentions, though, cooperation will founder if members aren’t good at communicating. Team-building activities that promote the group and a common goal help employees gain communication skills that allow each to contribute to successful outcomes.
Communication happens during talk, but also in silence. These nonverbal communications can transmit lots of information. The four up activity proves this, requiring employees to survive an imaginary environment on an alien planet through silent cooperation. This planet’s atmosphere doesn’t carry sound, an activity leader tells employees, leaving only nonverbal communication. Unfortunately for the participants, who sit in a circle, the planet’s gravity means only four people can stand at once, though no one can stand for more than 10 seconds. Survival depends on always having some combination of four standing, no one surpassing the 10-second limit.
The Human Knot
The human knot creates a scenario requiring participants to cooperate to solve a team problem with planning and communication. A small group of six to eight comes together in a circle, everyone stretching their hands into the center. The activity leader asks employees to close their eyes, then join hands, each person holding two other hands. When everyone has found their two other hands, the employees can open their eyes. Without letting go of one another, the team must form a circle from the knot.
Participants in this game once again practice nonverbal communication. For the team to successfully complete the challenge, participants must stay keenly aware of teammates, watching for visual clues. Employees can stand or sit as long as they can see one another. Their task is to count off one at a time in ascending order until the team has reached whatever numeral equals twice the number of participants. That means each person will say two numbers only and can’t say the same number as someone else since then the group can’t reach the right figure. Mistakes mean starting over.
Create a New Activity
In this exercise, the activity leader tricks participants into inventing a new problem-solving exercise. The leader divides employees into teams of four to five, then announces that the time is allocated for a problem-solving activity -- one the leader doesn’t have. It’s supposed to be an exercise no one has ever tried. The leader needs the teams to fix the situation, creating the activity and presenting it so that employees might have their activity after all. Employees need a fair amount of time to brainstorm and create -- say, an hour -- after which, each team makes its presentation.
Sophie Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media. A freelancer for more than 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews.