An Overview of Team Building Exercises

A team is group of persons with the some mission and with some co-ordination moving together to achieve some common objectives. The process that aims to develop some level of cooperation and team work within a single unit is called as a team building process. The constitution of an effective team can begin only when the effective team share a common goal for which they strive to work, the members should have respect towards each other, there must exist a goal for which all the members should be willing to utilize their strengths and thus achieve the objectives of their team and in turn the objectives of the team will serve purposeful to the objectives of the organization. Thus the corporate philosophy of the business scenario stands exactly right that the company should consider each member of the team an integral part very integral towards the functioning of the organization.

Thus to build co-ordination among the members of the team many team building exercises have been formulated that strengthens the coordination levels of the team and motivates the team to work effectively towards the objectives of the organization. Thus to put in simple words team building exercises are exercises that are developed to build a cordial relationship between the various individuals of the teams or to encourage the bonding between each other to motivate each other and build a relationship between each other that can truly formulate a pathway for the various team members to walk on that pathway together and help the organization to achieve its goals with a well interactive and the maintenance of a good well coordinated team. Although it is possible for a team which does not have good amount of coordination between them to achieve their goals but the goals which are achieved by such a team are in no way in comparison with the goals which are accomplished by a well coordinated team.

There are some companies which set apart a budget for each team for their team building exercises and this amount may be used by the teams to go for special trips and treats, whereas there are some companies which consider the team building events just as a measure of playing games which are played at home level and this in turn fosters friendship between the employees, so this friendship in future helps the employees o build a good amount of coordination in the future course of time. These team building events are carried on with the basic objective of just building a bridge which allows the team members to interact with each other and understand each other to a better extent.

Team Building Exercises For New Groups

When a group is created, the members must build trust among themselves. A facilitator can move this process along through a variety of team building exercises. The intention of the “games” is to get the new group members to loosen up, get to know each other and begin to create trusting relationships.

Fun is key to the success of these exercises. Don’t use the entire list. Pick a couple you are comfortable with and mix them in with a more formal indoctrination. Once each game is completed a facilitated discussion should be held about what was learned and how it applies to the workplace.

Modeling Clay- Select three players to demonstrate. One is a lump of clay (crouched over in a ball). Behind her is a second player who is the model, who assumes a pose. The `clay` should not see the pose. The third player is the artist, who will model the clay after the model. The artist does not touch the clay, is unable to speak and is not allowed to fully demonstrate the completed pose to the clay. Through non-verbal communication the clay is directed in to the pose. When done, let the model inspect the artwork and see how closely the clay resembles the model pose.

Air Traffic Controller – One player is blindfolded. The blindfoldee becomes a pilot flying a plane lost in the fog. The “Air Traffic Controller,” must remain in his/her “Tower.” (standing on a chair, which lends visibility). The pilot only has a limited amount of remaining fuel left (allow one to three minutes) to safely land and arrive at the Tower. The floor of the room is littered with small barriers (cups, reams of paper, chairs, tables). The airplane is also allowed two “near misses”-limited contact with any obstacle. The third brush or a direct hit or stepping on something directly causes a “crash”. The pilot may step around, over or under the obstacles. The airplane can only fly forward, however it can turn in any direction. The directions must be given from the pilot’s point of view.

Family Portraits- Players ‘build’ a family portrait. Ask a group of four or five players to create a…

Family of lawyers Family of shared physical traits
Family of Rock Stars
Family of dogs, lions, tadpoles
Family of garden tools

In addition to the pose for the portrait the players must demonstrate who is the head of the family and who is least influential. Who gets along with whom, who is the least liked of the family, and so on. Players need to watch each other closely to discover these traits.

Group Environment – This exercise has the group build an imaginary environment. The first player enters a ‘space’ through a ‘door,’ and interacts with something (imaginary) in the room. He/she then leaves the space, through the same or another door. Everything ‘created’ in the imaginary environment remains with no changes in their characteristics. Another player enters the same space, and places a mimed object in that space, either by physically placing the object (pushing, carrying, or wheeling it in or by just ‘using’ it, for example by laying her coat over a chair). As this second player leaves the room, another enters. Each player observes the existing order, i.e. don’t walk through a chair or wall. Players can and possibly should use all objects placed by previous players. Continue until every player has added to the mimed room.

Machines – The leader names a real or invented machine. The players create the machine with every player becoming a part of the machine. The machine must work and make noise. Variations: Tell the players the machine runs wildly, until it explodes. Or the power’s out and the machine slowly grinds to a halt.

Seven Scenes – Give a big task, such as ‘The creation, assembly and announcement of a new type of car,’ or ‘Building a clubhouse for Boy Scouts.’ The players get one minute (only) to prepare seven scenes in which the given task needs to be completed. After one minute there is no more discussion, they just play the seven scenes. Set a timer for the preparation and see if the players can formulate a plan. Regardless of their progress after one minute they must begin the scenes without further discussion. Quarrels and debates will slow them down. This is an excellent game to teach group storytelling and improve the groups ability to accept usable ideas quickly.

One Word Story – This exercise trains group narrative. The players sit or stand in a circle. Instructions are, “We are going to tell a story one word at a time. Each player provides one word of a sentence.” This is more difficult than it sounds. A warm up exercise is having the group tell a familiar fairytale. Summarize the practice story before they start. After the practice ask for suggestions for a person and situation… like a pride of lions flying to New York for a family reunion at the Bronx Zoo. At the conclusion of the story ask the group if they can see/understand the reasons why their story worked or why they did not.

Yes Lets – Pick a group activity, like throwing a birthday party or organizing a rummage sale. One player starts, saying “Let’s…” filling in what she wants to do. Then she starts actually doing what she said she wanted to do. A second player jumps in, saying “Let’s…” and then does something else, to advance the group activity. Both players say “Yes, let’s do that” and start doing whatever suggested. A third player jumps in, suggesting what to do, and again all players loudly agree to do it, and actually do it. Continue till everyone has suggested something. This is an excellent warm-up exercise, and great introduction to accepting new ideas from others.

To minimize any discomfort participants may feel emphasize the purpose is to enjoy the games. There are no winners or losers. If you have members of your group who are still reticent to play, begin with some of the two or three player games. By creating a fun, non-judging atmosphere, most employees will join in the amusing activities and learn a little about each other.

Checklist for Trainer in Team-Building Exercises

1. Every participant is different, and every one of them has a different level of understanding and emotional condition when they begin the course. Research your audience, for example you want to use a certain element in an exercise but you may discover that one participant has a phobia for that particular element. Be prepared before encountering these awkward situations. Don’t base your research only on age; you may be surprised by the results.

2. Always buy more resources than planned. You can never know what part of your logistics may fail you, what material may break before or during or the way the participants will handle the resources.

3. Adapt your teaching style and the learning styles of the participants. Remember everyone is different and understands things in a certain way. People may react differently in different contexts.

4. Timing is essential. Offer time for discussions, recreation and the unexpected. Don’t group together too many physical exercises. The best proportion for a team-building program includes: 33% physical exercises, 33% experiential learning and 33% discussion and traditional exercises.

5. The scope of a team-building is to reach certain objectives. Remember them when choosing an activity. Don’t choose an exercise because it is funny or popular but because it covers a need of a team or reaches an objective of the team-building.

6. Allocate sufficient time for the team-building. A well prepared training can take from 2 to 5 days. If the time allowed is less than half a day then it beats the point of the entire team-building.

7. BANG at the beginning and end. Start the team-building with well-prepared icebreakers that will set the mood for the course and allow people to relax and fin a comfort zone. At the end of the sessions, inspire and motivate them to set in action the lessons learned during the course of the activities.

8. Make a logistics list, prepare your material ahead of time, double-check them and learn to use materials that you haven’t worked before.

9. Debrief after each exercise and ask participants to make notes of their conclusions in a Learning Log.

10. Never presume that everyone will be able or accept to do a certain task, especially if it implies a risky activity. Prepare sub-task, which a person can handle.

11. Everyone is equal during a team-building, therefore do not allow participants put pressure or hassle other participants. Often, people in management positions give orders just because of their position outside the game. Do not hesitate to remind everyone this is a group activity, where everyone has the same position.