Team-building exercises can help create positive working bonds among the members of your staff, boost morale and increase productivity. When you are considering what kinds of team-building activities to do with your employees, you do have the expensive options of elaborate games and corporate retreats. But there are plenty of cheap team-building exercises that work well and can be used on a regular basis.
Sometimes you can have a cheap team-building exercise and not even tell your staff that it is a team-building activity. Have a staff meeting at the same time every week, but avoid talking about business. If you need to discuss business, then schedule a separate meeting. At the staff meeting, allow the employees to discuss whatever they want. Try to guide the conversation toward one subject or another to avoid chaos. One of the best topics to bring up is if someone in the group is having an issue, business or personal, that they do not know how to resolve. Let the group get involved and try to help.
Communication is essential to establishing good team work. The team building activity called "Back-to-Back" requires a pad of paper and a pencil. Choose one team member to create a simple drawing on a piece of paper that they keep to themselves and allow no one else to see. Then that team member chooses a teammate to sit back-to-back on chairs in the middle of the room. The person with the drawing then describes the drawing to the other person and the second teammate must re-create the drawing as exactly. The pair can only use verbal cues and the person make the re-creation cannot be shown the drawing until the exercise is over. Staff members learn a great deal about the most effective ways to communicate with each other with this kind of an exercise.
House of Cards
This is a simple but effective team-building exercise that only requires a table and a deck of playing cards. Teammates must work together to build a house of cards, but each team member can only use one hand. An exercise like this develops teamwork in a several ways. Employees must physically work together to try and bring together the house of cards, and the whole time the entire group must communicate instructions to help keep the card house standing. It helps your staff appreciate the attention to detail required to keep a card house standing.
The "Human Machine" can be a little complicated at first, but when it gets going it is a good way to teach precision in teamwork and remind the team that everyone's role is important. This exercise is cheap because it only requires some open space and a tennis ball. Each person represents the part of a working machine. Some team members can be gears while others can be levers and any other part the machine needs. Remember that a machine needs to be switched on, so someone will need to be the switch.The goal is to move the tennis ball from one side of the room to the other by creating a human machine. When the switch is pushed, the tennis ball may move to a series of gears and then get pushed on to an arm that transports the ball forward. The extensive planning required and the attention to detail can make this a fun and beneficial team-building project.
George N. Root III began writing professionally in 1985. His publishing credits include a weekly column in the "Lockport Union Sun and Journal" along with the "Spectrum," the "Niagara Falls Gazette," "Tonawanda News," "Watertown Daily News" and the "Buffalo News." Root has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the State University of New York, Buffalo.