Team Building Exercises: Getting to Know Each Other Better

Team building Exercises…Eyes Rolling…

As people think back to being outside in the fresh air and mad to have ‘fun’, whilst their workload built up and they found that there is always one that just has to get stuck in. What about if team-building exercises were a little more civilised, didn’t involve wearing a plastic hat, & starring at a kayak with intermediation, and actually helped improve the way people work together?

These team building activities are actually a good laugh, don’t involve water, and might make you change your mind about what defines a ‘team-building exercise’.

Still not convinced? You will have watched a trophy-winning team; football, rugby, Olympics…teams don’t achieve gold unless they got to know each other. Give these team-building exercises a try…

#1: Two Truths and One Lie

Two Truths and a Lie is a simple game that most people have heard of. For business teams, it has the advantage of being short, fun, and finding out something about each other that you probably did not know. Plus, you get to figure out who can lie well!

To play, everyone sits or stands in a circle. One by one, each person in the circle says three statements about him/herself. Two of these statements must be facts, or “truths,” and one must be a lie. The other members then try to guess which statement is the lie.

#2: ‘Teams that Learn Together Stay Together’ – Mind-Mapping

Mind mapping is a very useful tool for enabling your mind to share many thoughts without having to be constrained by having to organise them at the same time. A team that learning together enables team members to support each other, be patient for each other, and experience the learning journey as a collective.

The team watches this 5-minute video showing Tony Buzan, the inventor, talking about how to mind map. The facilitator stops the video after every minute, or so, to check in with the group. Once they have watched the video the group ask questions and check their understanding with each other, and then they all mind map an agreed topic, like Teamwork, Holiday, or a Company project.

They then share their mind maps with each other, discuss their learnings, and how their newfound skill can be used at work.

Man drawing a mind map on large white board

#3: Like, Hate and Love

Ask everyone to grab a piece of A4 paper. Split the A4 paper portrait orientated into 3 parts. Then, split the page down the middle. Each person should have 6 parts to their piece of paper. In the first (left-hand column) add the word ‘LIKE’ in the top section, followed by ‘HATE’, and in the last section draw a Heart.

Then, each person has a few minutes to write in the second column something they like, something they hate, and something they love. After which each person shares their page by telling the rest of the team and sharing why.

#4: Charades

Find an online charades generator and split the team into two teams. Agree how the points will be scored (under 1 minute is 3 points, 1-2 minutes, is 2 points, and 2-3 minutes is 1 point). The downside is that there isn’t much sharing of themselves, but it is a whole load of fun!

#5: Conversation Starters

Download 100 conversation starters free with this pdf of conversation starters. Cut them up and put them in a hat or a jar. Each person takes turns to grab a conversation starter from the hat. You’ll find some starters really do open up a discussion about people.

Businessman and woman having a conversation in office

#6: My Life

You’ll need a flipchart and a pen. Each person takes it, in turn, to stand at the flipchart and share their life. They start by drawing a simple graph axis. The x-axis is time, and the y-axis is highs and lows. The person places their pen on the left being born and draws as they talk. They might move the pen up as they got married, the graph goes down as they lost a pet, and what the team is left with is a graph of that person’s life.

I saw a guy do this exercise and it was the 3 drops down to the bottom on his graph, as he shared with us each divorce!

#7: HBDI

Help the team to understand themselves better and others better by knowing their thinking preference. Each person complete an assessment before they got together. They then are given their packs, showing their profile, how they prefer to think, and can see others’ profiles, and how they prefer to think. The team quickly realise that people think differently, have different needs, and their communication & tolerance begins to improve immediately.

Brain coloured in four parts to show HBDI model

#8: Mad, Sad, and Glad

A facilitator marks 3 flipcharts. The first with ‘Mad’, the second with ‘Sad’, and the third with Glad’. The team is provided with pens and a stack of post-it notes. Their task is to place one thought on each post-it note and then place it on the appropriate flipchart, considering ‘What makes you mad, sad, and glad about working here?’.

After about 10-minutes the 3 flipcharts are full of post-it notes. The facilitator then manages the discussion around common themes. For example, ‘On the mad flipchart, I can see that we dislike canteen food’. And so on. The point of the exercise is not to solve the issues unless the team wish to, but more to share that they all have similar thoughts.

#9: Play Trivial Pursuit or a Similar Board Game

#10: Pub Quiz

Organise people into teams and play a pub quiz.

Team Building Exercise #11: High Performing Teams

Using our team building competency framework print enough copies for everyone. Then ask them to identify which level they think the team are performing at. Each person shares their thoughts on why, without being influenced by previous shares. Then they teamwork together to identify where they want to get to, when, and how they will get there. Be careful to identify simple and practical behaviour to change. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

Final Advice

If you have 1-2 hours with a team, a combination of the above team-building exercises will work well. Choosing a self-disclosing exercise like, two truths & one lie, together with mad, sad & glad, will help the team to know more about each other, and how they all feel about working together.

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