When you hear the words "team-building activity," you may groan or roll your eyes. Team-building activities don't have to be complicated or socially painful, though. A good team-building activity doesn't require a lot of equipment or a rigorous physical course. A simple deck of cards can be used to generate many team-building activities that facilitate respect for team members, cooperation toward a common goal and a cohesive work environment. Best of all, using a deck of cards makes these activities convenient and inexpensive.

Line Them Up

Divide participants into groups of four or five. Provide each group with a stick, a picture hook and a tweezers. Separate one person from each group and provide them with the activity directions so that they can inform the others. Use a shuffled deck of cards for each group, but make sure that each group has cards with a different patterned back. Toss the cards in the air and let them fall. Team members must arrange their cards in numerical order by suit without personally touching them with any part of their body. Teams compete to see which team completes the task first.

A variation of this game is to give half the teams directions through just one team member and give the other teams directions to all team members. The event coordinator or organizers can take notes to see whether the team members’ roles are any different if only one team member conveys the directions to the others. If time is limited, designate the winning team as the one that is closest to completing the task within a specified time frame.

This activity promotes teams to cooperatively work together to achieve a common goal. Additionally, if teams are given directions in two different ways, there can be an opportunity to discuss whether teams achieve their goals more quickly with a designated leader.

Looks Count

Create groups of at least 10 people. Create a smaller deck of cards that contains an even amount of each suit so that all four suits will be evenly distributed. Have each participant draw a card and immediately have the team-building organizer tape it to their backs before they see it. Instruct team members to treat diamonds like royalty, ignore spades, mock clubs and act neutrally toward hearts. Encourage participants to use actions as opposed to words when interacting.

After the activity occurs for about 20 minutes, discuss how the way people were treated affected their actions. This activity emphasizes the point that people react based on how they are treated. It makes participants aware that if they treat team members with respect that they may be more productive.

What’s Your Role?

Divide participants into groups, preferably with people they do not work with often. Each group is assigned the task of building a card house. Give groups paper and pencils so they can design their card houses if they choose. They should also receive two decks of cards. The group with the last standing card house wins. Each participant draws a card. If someone draws a king, he is the leader. A person with a queen is second in command. If no king or queen is drawn, the group may choose its own leader. If more than one king or queen is drawn, participants share the role. Everyone must, in turn, place a card on the house, but leaders have the option of telling others where to put their cards. After all the houses are down, discuss which houses stayed up the longest and how well members of the group interacted. Focus on how team leadership influenced the group's ability to work well.

This activity encourages groups to be well organized and to value instructions. Additionally, discussions at the completion of the activity may focus on leadership styles and what methods seem to work best. This can valuable for team leaders who want to apply what they learned in true life activities requiring teamwork.