Community members, students, and business professionals may find themselves paired in groups with people from all backgrounds. When people come together in groups, a divergence of opinions can cause tension and rift in team effort. Fortunately, team leaders can do something to deter this from happening through a series of icebreakers, activities, and other initiatives that encourage team bonding and cooperation. Team building activities can have a lasting impact if done properly. If executed with a particular goal in mind, team building activities can help mend conflicts and encourage positive behavior among team members. Team building activities can improve communication, eliminate stereotyping and labeling, build interdependence, and instill trust among the group.
Follow these five team-building activities to enhance communication, cooperation, and trust among group members:
Title: Assemble the Square
Purpose: Encourages teamwork and communication by breaking the ice among group members
Group Size: 20+
Time Required to Complete Activity: 10 minutes
Directions: The team leader should divide the participants into four separate teams. Line each team member shoulder-to-shoulder next to the sides of an imaginary square. Be sure that everyone faces the center. The team leader stands in the center of the square, where he or she will spin while facing one of the teams. As the team leader spins, each team must assess and remember several things, including the order of their team lineup and the relation of the lineup to the spinner. A team can fall into one of four positions: to the left or right, behind, or facing directly in front of the spinner. The spinner must catch all of the teams off-guard by spinning several times and then stop abruptly without warning. Once the spinner stops, he or she must call out “Assemble the Square!” At this time, each of the teams must regroup back to their original positions. As soon as a team regroups back to its original order in relation to the spinner, all group members must raise their hands and shout, “We’re together!”
Purpose: Enhances focus and communication among group members
Group Size: 8+
Time Required to Complete Activity: 10 minutes
Directions: Assemble the group into a circle. Find two volunteers to play the role of either the President or Bodyguard. Designate these two volunteers at the center of the circle. The remaining group members play as assassins. The assassins’ objective is to hit the President with a ball. The Bodyguard has the duty of protecting the President by blocking the ball. If the Bodyguard blocks the ball from hitting the President, then he or she may pick up the ball to take out assassins. In essence, the Bodyguard cannot die. The Assassins work together by passing the ball to a team member who can gain a successful hit on the President. The Assassins cannot move their feet when they possess the ball. The Assassins should maintain a circle formation throughout the game for best results. Once an assassin hits the President, the Bodyguard becomes the President. In addition, the successful Assassin becomes the Bodyguard. Remember to have fun and play safely.
Title: Bridge It
Purpose: Challenges established groups by demanding communication and problem-solving. This is the perfect activity for future leaders.
Group Size: 6+
Time Required to Complete Activity: Anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes
Directions: The facilitator should divide all participants into two separate groups. Each group will play the role of construction workers, where they will build a half bridge using the materials given to them. The materials should consist of materials that will help each team build a successful bridge, such as pipes, connectors, newspapers, tarps, canvas, and tape. Each team must collaborate by building identical halves of their bridges. Place a tarp, cardboard, or some other divider to obstruct the view of both teams. Both teams must verbally communicate how they are constructing their bridge. Remove the tarp when both teams feel they have completed their halves of the bridge successfully. Compare the results and discuss.
Title: Links In My Chain
Purpose: Enhances concentration, problem-solving, and consensus team-building.
Time Required to Complete the Activity: Anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes
Group Size: 5+
Directions: The facilitator should gather five lengths of rope. Each length of rope should measure between six and eight feet long. Tie one of the lengths of rope and set it aside for later. It will be used to pass through the other circles of rope. All of the other circles of rope should remain separate from each other. Mix the ropes together and toss them into a pile on the floor. Ask the group to assemble around the pile and to find the one rope that is linked to the others. However, none of the group members can touch the pile. The group must decide by reaching a consensus. Once a consensus has been reached, one person can pick up the rope the group thinks is the link.
Title: What Makes the World Go Round
Purpose: Encourages teamwork through problem-solving, cooperation, and trust-building
Time Required to Complete Activity: 30 minutes
Group Size: 5+
Directions: The facilitator explains to the group that sometimes people get so blindsided by their own troubles that they forget everyone is in the same boat. If the group consists of more than ten members, then divide them into two groups with two puzzles. Each group should choose two members as their “guides.” Both members should be perceived as “different” from each other. The rest of the group will attempt to piece the puzzle together blindfolded. Each of the members must try to build the puzzle together safely without touching the guides. Group members can touch each other, but they cannot talk. The group has 3 minutes to find a way how they will communicate to each other and their guide non-verbally. Place a time limit on the group to achieve this task. If the group begins to feel frustrated, stop the activity and remove the blindfolds. Ask the group how they felt during the activity. Next, stress the importance of open communication when trying to complete a task.
- The Food Project: Team Building Activities
- Southern District Leadership Team: Team Building Activities (PDF)
- Icebreakers, Energizers, and Team-Building Activities (PDF)
- DECA: Team Building Activities and Games (PDF)
- Team-Building Exercises for Teens (PDF)
- United Way: Five Team-Building Activities for Adults
- CISV International: Team-Building Activities
- YMCA Twin Cities: Recreation and Team-Building Activities
- Palm Beach County Schools: Team-Building Icebreakers and Initiatives (PDF)
- Community Health Corps: Team-Building Activity Guide
- Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachian Mountains: Facilitating Team Building Activities (PDF)
- Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN): Icebreakers and Team-building Exercises
- National Public Radio (NPR): Workplace Woes: The Team-Building Retreat and Tips for Team Building
- Houston Chronicle: Team-Building Activities for Improving Workplace Communication
- Building a Productive and Collaborative Team (PDF)
- University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire: Team Building Activities
- University of Phoenix: 5 Team-Building Activities that Actually Work
- We’re Different/We’re Alike: Student Venn Diagrams to Promote Team-Building
- The Teacher’s Network: Establish a Positive Community Atmosphere in Your Classroom Through Team-Building Activities
- Georgia Team Institute: Team-Building Activities (PDF)
Last Updated On: February 17, 2014