Building a strong, integrated and unified professional team takes work. Most teams continue to do things the same way over and over again while neglecting to build more trust, confidence, communication or sense of purpose. The foundation of a strong professional team is a strong bond, one in which every member feels like they belong, are important and are valued by their teammates. In an office environment where you spend forty hours of your week, having a unified, well-oiled team is essential for success. These team-building activities are designed to improve communication, foster a team mentality, increase productivity and give all members a common vision.
Energize your professional team while working on their planning and strategy skills with the Balloon Battle team-building activity. Two teams compete to see how many times they can get a balloon to touch their opponent's wall while they remain stationary in this game. Use this game when the group energy is low, individuals are facing a project which requires strategy and planning skills or when potential roadblocks may impede original project plans.
All you need is your group and four inflated balloons.
First, divide the group into two teams and designate opposite walls as the goals for each team. Each team's objective is to outscore the other team. One point is awarded each time a balloon touches the opponents' wall. Once the players position themselves, they must remain stationary. Give the teams three minutes to strategize where they will position themselves. Have the teams get into position. Give two balloons to each team. Begin play. Keep score for six minutes and then call end of game.
After the game, ask the following questions. How did you do at scoring points? How did you do defending points? Did you adjust your position strategy when you saw the other team placing themselves? How? What did you learn about your placement strategy as the game played? How does what we did here apply to our work on the job?
Up the strategy component by using the game rule that after you score a point, the balloon must touch an opponent before you can score again. Think about how you will deal with balloons that go out of reach. Will you throw them back into play or will they be out for the rest of the game?
Get your team to work toward a common goal using the teamwork-improving activity Tall Towers. Have teams work towards building the tallest tower they can with small, flat objects. This team-building activity is great for individuals who don't rely on their teammates enough, when creative problem solving is dragging and when the group is not cooperating as effectively as it should.
Materials needed are an assortment of objects from around the office for each team to use and a ruler or tape measure. Appropriate objects include sticky notepads, erasers, pencils, plastic cup lids, staplers, books, cell phones, paper clips and staple removers.
First, divide the groups into teams with three to six members each. The goal is for each of the teams to build the tallest tower they can by stacking their items one on top of the other. Each team member takes a turn choosing an item and adding it to the stack. If the stack tumbles over, the team must start over. The team with the tallest tower at the end of five minutes wins.
When the activity is completed, ask the group the following questions: How did your team get their tower as high as it was? What unique ways did you find to make your tower taller with the objects given? What strategy did your team use to build? How did you feel when others helped you or told you what to place or how to place it? How did you feel when you caused the tower to fall? What can we take from this activity and apply to our jobs?
Watch the teams as they build so you can comment later. As a variation, try not allowing a team to rebuild if the tower falls, which will put more emphasis on each placement of the object.
Improve your team's communication patterns and ability to focus on details by playing One Syllable. This team-building activity has teams compete to guess hidden words by hearing clues composed entirely of one-syllable words. If your team needs to learn to approach simple problems more creatively or if your team overlooks important details, use this game.
All you need for the activity are index cards with a common place, person or thing written on them that will be guessed by the teams and a stopwatch.
Divide your team into two equal groups. Team A will chose one member to be the Clue Giver. Start the timer when Team A's Clue Giver draws the first card. The Clue Giver uses only one-syllable words to get their team to guess what's written on the card. For each correct answer, Team A gets one point. The Clue Giver may pass on any card he or she desires without any points being deducted or added. If the Clue Giver uses a multisyllable word, the card is returned with no point allotted. After one minute, call "time" and tally Team A's points. Repeat the process for Team B.
After the conclusion of the game, ask your teams the following questions: What was the key to your success as the Clue Giver? What was the most difficult part as you listened for multisyllable words? How did it feel when you were caught using multisyllable words? How does this activity relate to our work? What can we learn from this activity and how can we apply it to our jobs?
Have your team learn how their individual skills and qualities complement others to form an integrated, unified team by playing Totem Pole. If you're forming a new team, have a group that is devaluing one or more of its members or has not come together as a team yet, this is a great team-building activity to strengthen your team.
For this activity, you need one toilet paper tube for each participant and craft supplies such as markers, construction paper, scissors, tape, glue, pipe cleaners, yarn and beads.
Divide your team into multiple groups with roughly four to nine members. Distribute the toilet paper tubes and craft supplies among the teams and give participants six minutes to individually create an animal with their toilet paper tube that has some meaning to them. Have the teams join their tube animals together to make a totem pole. Each team then presents its totem pole to the rest of the group while explaining the animals used and their meanings.
After all the totem poles have been presented, ask the participants the following questions: How did you decide which animal to create? How did you determine where each animal went on the totem pole? What did you learn about your teammates through this activity? How can we continue coming together as a team back on the job?
- Group of business people working together in the office.. image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com