What does it take to turn a group of individuals into a cohesive team? Sometimes managing teams can be a challenge when your team members aren't working well together. This could happen with a new team that's still figuring out how to come together or an old team that's drifting apart. When you see your colleagues disconnecting from each other, though, what can you do to get your team back on track? Sometimes teams become less productive merely because of how they interact with each other. Competing workings styles or a lack of communication can hamper a team's ability to perform. So if you're worried your team isn't as united as it needs to be, try brushing off some tried and true team building strategies to help.
6 team building activities to try
Whether you’re in the office or working as a remote team, here are some fun team building activities to help your re-engage your team and teach them how to work together.
Team events: Any opportunity that gets the team interacting together in a way that's different from their normal routines creates a chance for team growth. It allows team members to utilize different skills and share personal stories or experiences. When meeting in-person, there's a much wider range of what sort of events are possible. Team lunches are a great place to start or you could try going somewhere new together such as a ballgame, movie, or even a local city tour. This also has the added bonus of being a nice way to recognize and appreciate the hard work your team is doing with a little reward. When working remotely team events are obviously more difficult to achieve but you can still have gatherings in a virtual environment. Happy hours are a standard go-to these days as are team coffee breaks, pet friendly meetings, and living room yoga.
Try assessments: Consider using a developmental assessment to help improve team cohesion. Often teams fracture because of communication issues or a lack of alignment on how work should be done. Using a personality or self-development test in a team setting allows employees to learn more about themselves and how they relate to others. It also helps them better understand why their coworkers behave the way they do and the ways in which team members are different from each other. Acknowledging that people work and live with different perspectives and worldviews which need to be respected can create a foundation of trust and support between colleagues. It can also lead to better communication and increased productivity on a team overall.
Research scavenger hunt: Does your team need to learn new information quickly? Try turning it into a game. Create a scavenger hunt where employees need to find the answers to a set of clues or questions either on their own or by asking coworkers around the office. Then have a small prize ready for the first person or team to find all the answers scattered throughout the workplace (or throughout whatever materials you want the employees to read). This activity works even better when you're bringing together a multi-departmental team. Assigning team members scavenger hunt lists for information related to a different department helps rapidly upskill the shared knowledge of the team and gives employees a chance to learn more about areas of the company they may be less familiar with. This can also work well as an onboarding activity in the office, especially if you're using co-workers as the source of information.
Office trivia: How much do you really know about your company? This activity works well for both small or large teams. Larger organizations may want to consider grouping employees in teams to compete whereas smaller teams may want to play individually. Managers can collect office trivia about the history of a company, the culture, values, mission, or even fast facts about current employees or projects. Then bring everyone together either virtually or in a conference room to see who knows the most about the company. The idea here is to have fun together in a low pressure environment while highlighting some interesting facts about the company that employees may or may not have been aware of.
Zoom games: There are endless lists of team building games online but many of them require in-person contact. If you're working in a remote context, that doesn't mean forget about games, it just means you might need to adjust which ones you want to try in a virtual context. Playing games together can help employees bond and, depending on the complexity of the game, it can also reveal how team members approach problem solving, creative thinking, and leadership. Board games in particular can be a great way to learn how others process information and make decisions. If you're limited by what you can do through a screen, though, you can always rely on the team building classics like matching team baby photos or playing the icebreaker two truths and a lie to get conversations flowing about interesting past experiences.
Hackathons: Sometimes people just want to work on something different. Hackathon days are a great way to gather a bunch of fresh ideas quickly and let your employees have fun doing it. The best way to approach a hackathon if you're a small team is to designate a day where regular duties are suspended. Instead, group employees into teams (bonus points for cross-departmental teams) and either assign them a current company problem or let them brainstorm one on their own. Then give the teams the day to put their ideas together and have them submit their work either as a report or presentation. This gives your employees a chance to work with people they may not normally find themselves on teams with and generates a number of fleshed out proposals the company can use when considering future initiatives.
Team building doesn't happen automatically
Successful teams exhibit a kind of connection and understanding that rarely happens by accident. When bringing together small or large groups of people, you need to create the space for them to learn more about each other. Team bonding can happen in any number of ways both in or out of the office. The main objective is to simply provide the time or structure needed to motivate your team to interact with each other in a more personal way. When team members learn more about each other, they gain a deeper understanding of their differences and commonalities which can improve communication skills, increase empathy, and develop a sense of team camaraderie. Bonded teams also tend to complete work more quickly and stay in their roles longer than teams who struggle. So if you're working with a new team, or a challenging one, consider leveraging some team building activities to help them come together. After all, the more we can learn about each other, the better our teams will be.