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What are the best–and most entertaining–team-building exercises?

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Question: “My boss has asked me to come up with ideas to help our staff become more team-player oriented. At a previous job she and a co-worker brought all of their office staff together, paired them up with Legos, and had one read directions while standing behind the one putting the item together. She said the results were fantastic because it showed the staff members how others perceive another giving directions and how they interpret them. Does anyone have any other suggestions on how to make being a ‘team-player’ fun?”  Mary

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KTatley November 28, 2013 at 3:54 am

Think about what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re trying to encourage teamwork then: Make this part of the job spec/ requirement. Put teamwork as a component into the incentive programme (perhaps have the team vote for this) Operate an incentive programme just aimed at teamwork: ie. Once a month have a small prize (recognition) for the best 3 instances of teamwork. And most of all talk to your staff to tell them you want more teamwork and encourage them (positive feedback) when they do and discourage (negative feedback when they don’t). Having said that – “team building” exercises are good at breaking down initial barriers and getting people to know each other that otherwise may not. Any exercise aimed at these ends will help. For example could be a contest to find out everyones middle names (and why they are called that and what it means and how they like it) (this would encourage the team to speak more to the people that they know less about…)

Keith Tatley. Founder of
http://www.ManagerFoundation.Com
“Make managing easy”

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Mary May 8, 2013 at 11:54 am

Thank you to all of you. I will let you know later which we decided to do and what the outcome was.
You are a great group!

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Robin May 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Our office has had scavenger hunts where a member of the admin team is paired (tethered) with a member of the accounting team and go into the city to find items listed, and lunch usually follows. We’ve also had a Wii in our conference room and competed in bowling, tennis, dance, and Family Feud, and have gone to a bowling alley. Getting out the office for team building exercises seems to build morale and we do have more team spirit when we return to the office. We’ve have some amazing results.

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Paula May 1, 2013 at 9:00 am

Anything that gets people up and moving around. When you’re physically active, you have less time to think about your defenses. So sports are really good in that way, though nothing too strenuous or competitive where people get really self-conscious. Something very light and maybe silly, like kickball with a giant oversized ball (we did this once).

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SaraLee May 1, 2013 at 8:18 am

We’ve used board games in the past, specifically some ones they make nowadays that are cooperative–players don’t play against each other, they play “against the game”, deciding what to do together on every turn. Some of the managers played one this year called Pandemic where the world is being destroyed by disease and the players have to run around trying to cure it all. Just listening to the managers talk and debate about how they were going to get it accomplished was HILARIOUS. It really brought out everyone’s personality!

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Kristen April 26, 2013 at 8:55 am

Every August we have a “Summer Olympics” in which our 6 departments compete against each other. Every week during that month we have one event in which department members have to work together to complete to win. It’s amazing to see how everyone comes together and cheer each other on. At the end of the games the one department with the most gold medals wins a free lunch out of the office for their whole department. Everyone looks forward to it each year!

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Mark April 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm

We used to do those types of games that demonstrated teamwork and showed how important it was. But then the training session was over and people went back to showing lack of teamwork. What made things change was adding “Teamwork” to the official evaluation criteria for our year-end reviews. Once everyone realized that we would be officially evaluated on this, and it was a factor in raises, things changed quickly. People took it seriously. I can honestly say we now have a staff that is phenomenal at teamwork. They are always looking out for each other and offering to help whenever and wherever needed.

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