Trust, honesty and integrity are all critical traits for a strong team to possess, especially in certain honor-based industries like banking or real estate. But just as true integrity can be hard to find in an individual, games on integrity are in short supply. Fortunately, many classic teambuilding exercises can easily be turned into integrity activities with a little creative tweaking.
The Trick Scavenger Hunt
You probably know how a classic scavenger hunt works, but in this version, you're testing your employees' integrity. Come up with a list of scavenger hunt items that you have hidden around the main office. Hide exactly one item per employee in the office and choose items that can easily be found in the break room or supply closet that aren't commonly found in the main office area (such as coffee filters, boxes of staples, etc.), but put some kind of inconspicuous identifying marker on these items first like a spot of paint.
When it comes time to hold the scavenger hunt, tell your employees the boundaries of the scavenger hunt are within the main office and that the break room and supply closet are off limits. Say that the person with the most points will get a $25 or more gift card or a small bonus on her next paycheck.
Give your employees a fair amount of time to search around the office and find the items and tell them you'll be gone during this time. Leave the office during the search and then come back when time is up. Tell your employees to put their pile of items on their scavenger hunt list with their name on the conference table, then tell them all that you have identified all of the items you hid in the office by marking them, so you will know if they got items outside of the boundaries of the game.
Say they will be disqualified if they have any items without these marks and that if they did leave the game boundaries, they can take out any items they broke the rules to get now and they will not be judged and will stay in the game. After giving anyone who cheated a chance to come clean, thank everyone and tell them you'll now total the points for the hunt.
Check all items your employees turned in and total their points, disqualifying anyone that has an item without your mark on it. Don't publicly or privately say anything to someone who was disqualified for cheating as the idea here is to reward your employees who showed integrity, not punish those who decided to cut corners. Announce the winner in front of the rest of the group and say how you proud you are that they followed the rules even though it can be tempting and easy to skirt the rules sometimes.
The Distraction Minefield
The minefield is one of the most classic teambuilding activities for the workplace to build trust among employees. In the classic version of the game, you blindfold an employee and then have a partner guide her through a minefield obstacle course using only words like "forward, backward, right and left." The game normally helps builds trust and improves communication, but you can add an extra message about the importance of integrity and focus by having the guide have to direct their blindfolded partner despite being distracted by other employees.
To do this, lay out cones or paper plates along your playing field to serve as the mines. No one is allowed in the minefield besides the blindfolded person, who cannot be touched. Everyone is allowed to try to distract the guide, but while they can talk to him, they cannot yell over him or try to confuse the blindfolded partner. They also can touch him, but they cannot block his vision.
Once the blindfolded partner either "blows up" by touching the mines or makes it through the minefield, the guide is then blindfolded to make his way through the obstacle course. The game goes on until everyone has gone through the course. At the end, reinforce the integrity aspect by asking questions about how the guide's integrity and dedication to his job helped his partner make it through the minefield. Follow this up by asking how integrity can help the team itself in the future.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two truths and a lie is easily the most famous of all integrity icebreakers. This game asks employees to lie and to learn to recognize one another's poker faces. When employees know that their co-workers can recognize when they are lying or telling the truth, they will be more likely to be honest. Additionally, when you build trust between your employees, they will know they can maintain their integrity with one another no matter how difficult the situation because they understand that their co-workers will believe them even if the truth seems unbelievable.
This icebreaking activity is pretty simple to start, just have each member of your team write down two truths and a lie about themselves in any order, labeling them with an "a," "b," and "c." Then give everyone a chart with a box next to each of their co-worker's names before giving everyone 15 minutes or so to circle around and socialize like they would at a cocktail party. Tell them they have to show their truths and lie page to everyone they talk to and then encourage them to ask each other questions to help figure out what is true. Be sure to let them know that since everyone has to answer truthfully, no one can ask questions that violate the nature of the game, like "which one is your lie?"
When a person thinks they have figured out which one of their co-worker's statements is a lie, they should write the letter of that statement beside that person's name. After everyone has played detective and thinks they've worked out the truth, reconvene in a group where everyone reveals their truth and then everyone raises their hands if they guessed correctly. For each correctly identified lie, a person gets a point and if anyone has a lie that no one correctly identified, they get a point as well. The person with the most points wins.
Pass the Button
Like Two Truths and a Lie, this game helps your team recognize each other's poker faces and figure out when someone is lying. Sit everyone in a large circle and select one person in the group as the button holder. Give her a button and then tell everyone else in the group to close their eyes. The person with the button then circles around the group before choosing someone by tapping him on the shoulder and then handing him the button. The person who originally had the button then turns her back on the entire group and counts to 20.
While the original button holder counts, the person who received the button can then either circle the group and hand the button to someone else before sitting down again or hold onto it for himself. After the first button holder finishes counting, she then goes to the center of the circle and then asks "who has the button," pointing to someone in the group. The person she has pointed to then needs to deny having the button and then she will point to the person to his right, who will deny having it, until she has pointed to everyone in the circle. Once everyone has denied having the button, she needs to guess who actually has the button.
After the person who has the button announces they possess it, they will become the button holder and need to pick someone in the circle to hold the button. Keep playing as many rounds as you want, although ideally, your team members should begin to properly guess who holds the button and this can be a good time to stop playing.
After you finish the game, ask if everyone found themselves distrusting other people in the circle. Then reflect on how you don't feel unified with other people when you feel they are lying and that while distrust builds walls, honesty builds unity.
Extended Eye Contact
Break employees into teams, ask them to make eye contact and hold it for 60 seconds. Remind them that eye contact is important in the business world, but you know it's never easy to make eye contact with someone that long. Then point out that holding eye contact becomes harder and harder when you have a guilty conscience.
Refereeing Simple Teambuilding Activities
One thing you can do to add an extra message about integrity to a day of simple teambuilding activities, even those that aren't focused on integrity, is to choose games that need to be judged by a referee. Then make sure every person in the group is assigned to referee one or two activities (everyone must be a referee to the same number of people in the events). Then at the end of the day, tell everyone they have 100 "integrity points" that they can divvy up however they want and assign to any of the referees who judged their events that day. The referee who has been given the most integrity points from the other group members then wins an "integrity award" along with some kind of prize, like a $20 gift card or the opportunity to leave work early next Friday.
Draw it Out
While individual integrity focuses on trust, honesty and morality, the integrity of a team instead means the strength of the connections between the team. This can be improved through good communication, and fun exercises like this can help. Start out by putting together a group of three people, asking who considers themselves to be a good artist first and putting at least one good artist in each group if possible. Arrange your groups so two of them are sitting back-to-back and the artist of the group is sitting with their back to the first two.
Next, give the person farthest away from the artist a picture of abstract art or an obscure shape, give the other two people notepads, regular pencils and colored pencils. Tell them they need to describe everything they can to the person sitting behind them. This person can draw, color or write notes to record everything they can about the image based on what the person holding it describes to them. After 60 or 90 seconds, tell them to stop talking and then have the person who was drawing or taking notes sit back-to-back with the artist in the group.
Now the middleman has to pass on his notes about how the image looked to the third person in the group, who has to try to draw the original picture as close as possible to the original, which they've never seen. Give this person two minutes or so and then tell them to stop drawing. Bring your groups together and have them share their artworks, being sure to compliment the team that has most accurately recreated the original picture.
Jill Harness is a blogger with experience researching and writing on all types of subjects including business topics. She specializes in writing SEO content for private clients, particularly attorneys. You can find out more about Jill's experience and learn how to contact her through her website, www.jillharness.com.