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Team-Building Exercises As Icebreakers!

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Team-Building Exercises As Icebreakers!

Teams thrive on collaboration. Collaboration is possible when team members find value in working together. Your team-building exercises should, therefore, be directed at building a culture where individuals value collaboration and share a sense of team. You need to inculcate in them that “none of us is as good as all of us” (High Five) and emphasize how they can benefit personally by complementing each other to achieve the team’s objectives.

There are different types of activities that can improve team spirit. While choosing a suitable set of activities for your employees, keep in view the following aspects:

Create Fun Environment: Your team-building activities should be a lot of fun. Fun environments lighten pressurized minds and make them more positive and productive. Remember that team-building activities should not serve to inculcate any additional skills that make your employee more productive but to convey to them that they need one another to achieve their common objectives.

Improve Communication: The activities that you choose should encourage a lot of communication among team members. The more they talk, the deeper their understanding of each other will be. It will also dispel misunderstandings that had formed previously between individuals on account of lack of communication. These activities should be opportunities to bury the hatchet and form effective teams.

Do not Encourage Competition: Creating competitive environment can be counterproductive because it encourages your employees to try and outdo one another. In that effort, they work against the others instead of working together. Therefore, discourage this. Design and implement activities that require collaboration and interdependence to succeed. This brings up unity among the members and helps them take a lesson or two to the workplace.

Do not Cause Confusion: The activities that you take up should be communicated without any ambiguity to team members. There should not be any confusion because it will dissipate the team’s enthusiasm and puzzle them. So, make your expectations of them absolutely clear, and give them clear instructions on how to proceed and be successful in team activities.

Make It Frequent: If you are to truly improve team spirit among your employees, have frequent team-building activities. Make them part of your corporate culture. Conduct them as often as you can, at least once or twice a year.

Team-building activities show how working together can help individual members fill talent gaps and achieve their common objectives effectively. To this effect, you should plan activities and execute them with effect.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Michael J. Spangle

    This is a most interesting conundrum. On hone hand, as you pointed out, individual accomplishments are both required and encouraged. On the other hand, there is a need for these individuals to function as a team. Perhaps the balance between these two can be found in the figure of the human body. The heart, for instance, has a specific function to perform that the liver could never do. We would all like our hearts to work at their optimum. What we do not want is for our hearts to try to work in isolation from the rest of the body.

    The trick is to get each employee to see how their individual accomplishments help to make other employees successful. When I do my job right another person can then do their job, etc. I would suggest formulating a team-building activity that would require each employee to perform a specific task which, if performed correctly, would enable the next person on the team to do their assigned task. This is similar to the concept of a relay race, but I would make it more challenging for the team.

  • Jacqueline M. Walters

    The best practices for building the right team. The application of effective talent balancing techniques, to select talented-plus candidates. Allow team players to bring the best of their whole self to work every day. Diversity and inclusion training for team players, to be tolerant of and respect the differences, in other team players ideas they bring to the table. Defuse competition among team players. Inspire and motivate to build a strong team, that stays together for efficiency and productivity. Empower team players to feel confident and capable, of achieving the teams’ goals. An infusion of encouragement when needed.

  • Abhinava S.N

    I think these are some good points here… however, i like playing the devil’s advocate… and here is my spin to things…

    Do not have ‘team building activities’ – they seem disconnected from ‘work’ and no amount of design is going to make them right…
    Instead – keep these outings purely as the employees see them – stress relievers or time-for-fun outings…

    Team building, i believe, should be designed into the organizations culture… set expectations (formally, informally and by example) of traits like honest communication, open mind in giving and receiving feedback, respect for the fellow employee, no communal/social grouping et al… these don’t build team spirit directly but serve as the foundation blocks to building great teams…

    From a design perspective nano-interactions should be planned to ensure that the environ is conducive to building great teams… mid term culture change programs should be planned and finally each person should have a measurable index built into their KPI – this way, it will be beneficial for each person to WANT to build great teams.

    The details will obviously be specific to each company and why they understand to be great teams (it is not a universal definition) but i think, the era of team building interactions should be trashed – their time is long past.

    Please feel free to get in touch should you want to take this discussion further – I would love for an engaged discussion on this front some time. :)

    Warm Regards,
    -Abhinava

    9642410666

  • This is a very interesting discussion. I hear a lot of people talking about team building exercises or events as just a corporate “jolly”, but I disagree. There are events I participated in many years ago when working for Digital (DEC) that I still remember quite vividly. Events that added a lot of value to our work. I still keep in touch with some of the participants 15-20 years later so good were the bonds that were built.

    I do agree however that unless you get it right they are a complete waste of time and money. I remember one such event at Siemens, where my boss quite correctly had the perception that his management team was not working as effectively together as they could. The event facilitator spoke to each Manager who had been invited to participate prior to the event supposedly to uncover the issues. Then guess what – none of these issues were on the agenda and when I pushed for this to happen they were simply skimmed over in half an hour whilst some quite senior managers continued to take advantage of the free grog (alcohol).

    The underlying issue as to why the team was not working effectively together was incongruent goaling. So bad in fact that some members of the management team could maximize their personal bonuses at the expense of undermining the strategy of other business units. No team building exercise, no matter how fancy will fix this issue if it is not addressed.

    Team building exercises and events can however be very effective in improving team performance and outcomes. I am more than happy to run them for my clients but only if:
    • The Team has congruent goals or the more Senior Managers organizing the event are prepared to review goaling to ensure that every member on the team is incentivized to pull in the same direction
    • Pre-existing issues are identified and discussed (not necessarily resolved) early in the event
    • Everyone has the opportunity to have a great time and get to know their colleagues better, but the event is not allowed to deteriorate into just a drinking or gorging session
    • The event is held offsite preferably somewhere mobile phones and laptops don’t work – such as in the Australia bush.

  • After reading this post and some comments, I have to agree with some comments that team building exercises are not always productive. If corporations do not have a clear agenda of what the team building exercises need to accomplish, it can be a clear waste of time. It can be hard to get a large group of people to accomplish a specific goal, but if not planned well, workers can end up annoyed that they are even doing it to begin with.

  • I absolutely agree that fun is a critical element to a team building icebreaker as is the lack of competition. I have found that producing music as a team can be a fantastic ice breakers, for example, using drums, boomwhackers or the human voice. These can be fun without any competition.

  • Our most popular icebreakers involve the team working together to culminate in a fantastic performance.