· Misc

Team Building

What makes up a Team? When two or more people with similar interests & attitudes come together to work towards a common goal, a team is formed. If there is no common goal, there is no team. Team members strive hard to live up to the expectations of each other and successfully accomplish the assigned task. A team must synergize and achieve excellence or as the acronym goes, T.E.A.M. Together Everyone Achieves More.

A team cannot do well or achieve more than an individual unless each and every member is focused and understands his or her responsibilities. Every individual must feel motivated to perform at his or her best. For best performance, whenever possible, avoid imposing tasks on team members; instead, allow the individuals to take initiative on their own. Optimally, team members come forward and accept challenges with resilience and spirit. This is where team building comes in. Team building refers to various activities undertaken to motivate team members and increase overall performance of the team. Various activities can be undertaken to address different team issues but ensuring the element of fun will increase the effectiveness of the activity. Even the best teams can benefit from team building exercises; they’re a great way of improving communication, morale, motivation, productivity, and learning about one’s strengths and weaknesses. Team Building activities can be used by any business, large or small, to promote better teamwork in the workplace, and as most business owners and managers know, great teamwork is one of the key factors associated with a company’s success.

Team Building exercises can include Communication Activities, Problem Solving and/or Decision making activities, adaptability and/or planning activities and activities that focus on building trust. The idea is to perform activities that are both fun and challenging, and that also help to build teamwork and help improve employee performance and productivity in the workplace. Let’s take a look at some Team Building activities that we do at Signature Canada:

Communication & Icebreakers

M&M Icebreaker

When the attendees arrive, greet them with a large bowl of plain M&M’s and invite them to take a specific number of the candies (4 or 5), but not to eat them. After everyone has arrived and is seated tell the class that the color of candy they chose will correlate to a question that they will need to answer about themselves. Have them introduce themselves, what department they work in, & how long they have been with the company and then answer the questions that you have written on a whiteboard or flipchart. (If they have more that 1 of a specific color, then the additional candies would be “wild” and they can choose whichever questions they would like to answer) This game allows coworkers to know each other better, and opens them up to speaking in front of the group. Questions May include: “Something about you?, “Something about your family?”, “Favorite TV Show, Movie or book?”, “Where were you born?”, “Food you Love or do not Love”, “Something off your bucket list?”, “First Job”, “What you like best about this job?”

The One Question Ice Breaker Activity

This icebreaker not only gets coworkers talking to each other, but it also gets them working with one another. It’s quite simple: the leader gets to decide the situation the question will pertain to. Example situations could include babysitting, leading the company, or being married. After pairing participants into teams, the leader will pose this question: If you could ask just one question to discover a person’s suitability for (insert topic here), what would your question be? Say the leader chose to go with a marriage situation. That would mean that each two-person team would come up with one question that would help them discover whether or not their partner was suitable to be married to them. This ice breaking activity can also get mixed up by issuing one situation for the entire group, or allocating a different situation to each team member or pair to work on. Depending on the situation chosen, the activity can be very fun, but it can also demonstrate that crucial questions should be developed properly.

Problem Solving

Sneak a Peek Game

This problem-solving activity requires little more than a couple of sets of children’s building blocks. The instructor will build a small sculpture with some of the blocks and hide it from the group. The participants should then be divided into small teams of 4 people. Each team should be given enough material so that they can duplicate the structure you’ve already created. The instructor should then place their sculpture in an area that is equidistant from all groups. One group member from each team can come up to look at the sculpture for 10 seconds to try to memorize it before returning to their team. After they return to their team, they have 25 seconds to instruct their team on how to build an exact replica of the facilitators sculpture. After one minute of trying to recreate the sculpture, and other member can come up for a “sneak peek” before returning to the team and trying to recreate the sculpture. The game should be continued in this pattern until one of the teams successfully recreates the original sculpture. This game will teach participants how to problem solve in a group and communicate effectively.

Spaghetti and Marshmallow tower

Divide the participants into groups of 4-6 people. Allow 5 minutes for the design phase. In this phase the teams should design a plan for the tower. Suggest that the teams also draw their plans on paper. After the design phase, each team is supplied with dry spaghetti noodles and large marshmallows. Allow 10 minutes for the building phase. The team with the highest tower (measured vertically from the base to top) wins. Following the construction phase, we should discuss the following:

1.    Key lessons learnt
2.    Did everyone participate?
3.    What roles did you observe team members taking on in this activity?
4.    Do the roles of team members change during the team member’s lifetime?
5.    What could have been done better in the team?
6.    What roles have you recently played, or have seen your co-workers play recently?

After the debriefing – introduce the roles that make up a team. List the roles on a flipchart – or power point. Discuss how each role affects the team and its process.

o    Information Giver – Offers authoritative data or information
o    Opinion Giver – States beliefs or opinions relative to the discussion
o    Encourager – is open to others beliefs and opinions even if they are different than the norm
o    Listener – Pays attention to what others are saying
o    Gatekeeper – openly interested in what others say and facilitates communication
o    Information Seeker – askes for clarification or accuracy of statements
o    Clarifier – interprets or explains facts or opinions
o    Standard setter – establishes criteria for evaluating ideas, opinions or decisions
o    Dominating – excessive talking, interrupting others, criticizing and blaming
o    Joking – excessive playing around, telling jokes, mimicking others

Ask the participants to recall the person(s) who demonstrated each of these roles in the tower building activity. Encourage them to think of the person (s) that embody these roles in the workplace. Discuss the importance of having each role making up a successful team and share possible ramifications of not having certain roles represented on a team.

A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together! ~Author Unknown

Alethea Porter
Regional Training Account Manager
Phone: 403-461-6590

Alethea Porter

Signature Canada is a leader in training employees to deliver legendary customer service while increasing sales. Since 1986, Signature’s unique training methodology has provided a measurable ROI for our customers, compelling them to return year after year. We offer Canadian companies, personalized, sustainable and measurable business and training solutions which contribute to optimize income by developing sales and service skills dedicated to create memorable experiences.