16 Employee Engaging Team Building Games
One of the most effective ways to make your team feel connected and work collaboratively in a more engaging & fun way, is through team building games. These are broken down into communication activities, problem solving and/or decision making activities, adaptability and/or planning activities, and activities that focus on building trust. The key is to find the right kind of exercises which are challenging, engaging and, have a learning outcome of building teamwork skills that can help improve employee performance and productivity .
Since not every team may be comfortable with certain kinds of activities, it’s important that you select the right activity which everyone feels comfortable and safe with. Let’s take a look at some of the more engaging team building games.
Team Building Games 1: Moon Landing
Your team is the crew of a spaceship scheduled to rendezvous with a mothership on the bright side of the moon. However, due to technical difficulties, your own ship was forced to land 400kms from the rendezvous point. During re-entry and landing, much of the equipment was damaged and, since survival depends on reaching the mothership, the most critical items must be chosen for the 400-km trip. 15 items are listed as being intact and undamaged after landing. The task is to rank them in terms of their importance for the crew, to help them to reach the mothership.
Salvaged Items: Box of matches, Food concentrate, 50 feet of nylon rope, Parachute silk, Two .45 caliber pistols, One case of dehydrated milk, Two 100-pound tanks of oxygen, Stellar map, Self-inflating life raft, Magnetic compass, Five gallons of water, Signal flares, First aid kit containing injection needles, Solar powered FM receiver, Portable heating unit.
Ask each ‘crew’ member to take 10 minutes to decide their own rankings, and record the choices. Place the number 1 by the most important item, the number 2 by the second most important, and so on through to number 15 for the least important. Pull everyone into groups of 3-4. Discuss their individual choices and refine their rankings based on the collective thoughts of the team. Record the group rankings in team rankings.
Team Goal: This exercise enables the team to showcase their creativity and crunch-time brainstorming. It shows them that they too have the potential to come up with solutions to any problem. It also gives your team an opportunity to challenge the other team members in ways that they may not otherwise find the opportunity to do so in their regular day to day activity at the workplace.
Team Building Games 2: Truth amongst the Lies
Distribute four identical slips of paper and give them to each team member. Ask each of them to list down three truths and one lie. The lie should be framed in such a manner that it seems believable to others. Just ensure that the truths and the lies should not be in bad taste or offensive. Once everyone has written as per the instructions, move around the group, one individual at a time and ask them to read out the truths and the lie in a randomised manner. When they are done reading out, the team needs to come up with which are the truthful statements and which is the lie.
Team Goal: This is a wonderful exercise to make the team members get to know one another better. This exercise is especially helpful for the introvert team members who have difficulty opening up. It gives them an equal opportunity to share and reveal facts about themselves as well as correct the assumptions that others have made of them. In this exercise, participants get to learn about their peers better.
Team Building Games 3: Convince and Barter
Divide your team into groups of equal members. Give each team a different and distinct jigsaw puzzle which is equally challenging. Set a time for all the teams to complete the puzzle as a group. Provide a hint that some of the missing puzzle pieces of every group may be found in some other group. They have the liberty to convince the other team to acquire their missing puzzle team; however, they may need to pay a price by bartering either team members, opting for a merger, or even donating some of their time to another team and so on. They must reach upon this decision of barter as a group.
Team Goal: While this exercise may be time-consuming, but it is a great opportunity to display creative team work at various levels. It brings forth the convincing capabilities within a team and how they can solve a challenging situation by coming together as a team and looking for a resolution to the problem by convincing the other party.
Team Building Games 4: Treasure Hunt
Divide your team into groups of equal members and send them out to locate and bring back items by providing them with a list of items to locate. You may decide to set the rule whether the groups are to remain within the office or they are allowed to venture outside the building. The ultimate goal remains that the team which is back first with most of the items from the list wins. You should set a time limit for all the groups so that the exercise can be completed within a reasonable time frame. You can set a theme to the treasure hunt and provide various clues that motivate the team to get creative, competitive, and work together in a collaborative manner.
Team Goal: A treasure hunt is a great fun filled activity that compels individuals to operate together as a team. It encourages creativity, especially if clues or riddles are added to the treasure hunt which makes it all the more intriguing.
Team Building Games 5: Hello My Name Is…
Write out a list of adjectives which describe an individual’s attitude such as happy, grumpy, positive, negative etc. Ensure that you have enough adjectives for every member of your team and write each of these adjectives on a self-adhesive sticker with the following words: “Hello, my name is…” Put all the stickers with the names in a container and make each team member draw a name sticker out without peeking what the adjective on the sticker contains. Make them stick this name tag which they picked up for themselves and wear it for a certain amount of time. You then instruct them that all of their responses in their interaction with others for that specified amount of time needs to have the mention of the adjective that is tagged to them.
Team Goal: The purpose of this exercise is to show that tagging an attitude such as telling someone they are “acting grumpy” can impact how they view themselves and how they act during the day. It can act as a mirror where you can see yourself and the attitude that you carry.
Team Building Games 6: The Common Link
Divide your team into groups and ask each group to discuss and find out one common link amongst themselves. This common link may be an interest or a hobby that most of them in the group pursue or it may be even a certain genre of music or a cuisine. Once this common link is discovered and agreed upon, the team needs to prepare a list of the stereotypical qualities of such individuals.
Then ask the groups to come forward and announce to the rest of the groups who they are as a common group of people. The groups may also discuss the stereotypes that they assigned to such individuals. Discuss how the groups managed to find the common thread and the process which they used to dig these common factors up.
Team Goal: The idea behind this exercise is to compel your team to tackle the nature of stereotypes. It also conveys that if individuals indeed behaved as we casually write them off to be, the office would be quite a different place. The exercise also displays the ability of a so-called random group of individuals to be able to find a commonality.
Team Building Games 7: Build Your Own Mission Statement
Take the company’s mission statement and delete the verbs, nouns, and adjectives. Create worksheets with blanks for the adjectives, nouns, and verbs which have been removed and have instructions for the team on the types of words that they can use to fill up the blanks with. Ask the team as a group to provide a word each to fill up the blanks in the. Once you have enough words, read out the mission statement with the words provided by the team. It is bound to sound silly and funny. Now that the team realises that they need to supply words in certain categories which will make the statement sound and feel correct. Tell them that you are looking for words which are applicable to the team without telling them that they are working towards building the mission statement. Repeat this exercise until you get a mission statement which the team feels is apt.
Team Goal: Mission statements which are framed by an organisation may sound great, but it misses the mark if the team cannot relate to it or feels that it represents them. By doing away with the jargon and stiffness and allowing the mission statement to go through several rounds of modifications via this exercise, you enable your team to help you craft a mission statement that is more honest, easy to comprehend, and to which they feel a sense of belonging.
Team Building Games 8: Be My Eyes
Divide the team into groups of two each. Make the two individuals sit with their back to one another. Provide one individual with a picture and the other with a blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. The member with the picture cannot show it to the other individual. Now ask the individual with the picture to describe the image in such a manner that the other individual is able to sketch it as it appears in the picture. The individual who is describing the image is not allowed to give direct hints to the other individual as to what the image represents or what the image is.
For instance, the picture may be of an elephant balancing on a ball. So the individual who is describing the image cannot provide a direct hint such as: “draw an elephant balancing on a ball”. Instead, he or she needs to use directions or adjectives to describe the image. After the set time limit, when the drawing ends, both the team members are view the original image and compare it with the drawing that they both created as a team.
Team Goal: This is an exercise that stresses on the importance of clear communication and language. While the final drawing may seldom appear exactly like the image provided, it is an eye opener to both the participants to see how different the outcome or interpretation of instructions can be even when they were both trying to portray the same thing.
Team Building Games 9: Guessing the Name
Write down the name of a famous personality on a sticky note and stick the name tag on a team member’s back, so that he or she cannot see whose name is written on the tag. For a stipulated time frame the entire group may ask and answer questions pertaining to the name that has been stuck on to the team member’s back. These questions and answers will act as clues. Using these clues, the team member needs to figure out the name of the famous personality. If the member is able to guess the name correctly, he or she can quit the game while the rest of the team continues.
Team Goal: This game acts as a good ice-breaker exercise if you have new team members who do not know each other yet.
Team Building Games 10: Watch Your Step
Create a large polygonal shape of around 12 feet by 6 feet on the floor with the help of masking tapes. Mark the start and end points. Select a shape which is elongated so that people need to make their way from one end of the room to the other. Place a few squeaking toys inside the shape and lot of full paper sheets with a huge X written inside the sheet. One person from every team needs to make their way from end to finish blindfolded. They are not allowed to step outside of the boundary, or step on the X mark. If they do step, they will be asked to be statues. They can only be unfrozen if someone else inside the shape steps on a squeaky toy. The blindfolded member will be only guided by the verbal instructions of the team members who are outside the shape.
Team Goal: This purpose of this exercise is to convey the importance of communication, and trusting each other.
Team Building Games 11: Market Your Product
Ask each member to get an item from their desk for this exercise. Inform them that this item will be their new to be launched product and they need to come up with a name, slogan, logo, and a marketing plan for the same within a set time frame. This exercise may be done individually or in small groups as well.After the set time is up, ask each person or any member in case of a team to present their new product by giving a two-minute product marketing presentation.
Team Goal: This exercise helps you promote teamwork and crunch-time brainstorming. It also promotes creativity and problem-solving.
Team Building Game 12: Ask the Perfect Question
In this exercise, come up with several scenarios in which one individual will be chosen to do something. Ask each team member to come up with just one perfect question to be asked to an individual to determine that the selected individual is a perfect fit for the scenario. Ask the team members to write down their perfect questions – one each. After all the scenarios have been covered, discuss all the questions as part of a group and see what each individual thinks would be the perfect question.
Rem Goal: This exercise teaches the members of a team how each individual thinks differently. The perfect question that every individual comes up with reflects the motives of the team members and what they think matters the most. This is a wonderful way to lead into a discussion on how team members determine who is capable and who they intend to follow or trust.
Team Building Games 13: Classify Me
For this exercise, collect various types of objects and place them at the center of a table. Try to place at least 20 different types of objects. The goal should be to collect items that at first glance have no apparent connection with one another.
Divide the team into groups and give each group a sheet of pen and paper. Now ask them to classify these items into four groups and write down the groupings on the sheet of paper. After the set time is up, select a representative from each group to explain how they as a group came up with a classification for the objects and why.
Team Goal: Apart from promoting teamwork and creative thinking, this exercise also encourages every team to rethink how they view everyday objects. They are compelled to look for common features in otherwise unconnected objects. It also promotes a discussion on how to work outside the box to come up with solutions to problems that seem completely non-related.
Team Building Games 14: Look at Me
Sustained eye contact is sometimes difficult for people, as it requires a certain degree of trust and respect. The truth is most people avoid it, while others simply are not very good at it. Some people look away or appear awkward or uncomfortable, sometimes fidgeting with other objects. For this exercise, have people group into pairs and stand facing each other. The goal is to get them to stare into their partner’s eyes for at least 60 seconds. Neither participant should be wearing glasses or sunglasses of any kind. There will be many giggles at first, as it can feel somewhat awkward during the first try, but as participants get the hang of it, it should become easier for them to make eye contact for prolonged amounts of time.
Team Goal: This exercise helps team-members become more comfortable and trusting of each other through the practicing of eye contact.
Team Building Games 15: What’s your Problem
Divide the team evenly into groups of at least two. Instruct the group that they have 30 minutes to come up with a problem-solving challenge which they would later need to make use of. The teams are urged to use their creativity, teamwork, and communication. At the end of thirty minutes, the team needs to choose one of the problem-solving challenges and perform the activity.
Team Goal: This exercise enables the team to showcase their leadership responsibilities. It shows them that they too have the potential to come up with solutions to any problem. It also gives your team an opportunity to challenge the other team members in ways that they may not otherwise find the opportunity to do so in their regular day to day activity at the workplace.
Team Building Games 16: The Great Egg Drop
This messy, yet classic and engaging team building activity is pure problem solving. It requires splitting the teams into groups of 3-4 with the task of using a variety of raw materials, to build a structure that will support a freefalling egg dropped from a predetermined height of 3 metres without breaking the egg. After the packages have been built, each team must also present a 30-second advert for their package, that ‘sells’ its uniqueness and how it works. At the conclusion of the presentations, each group will have to drop their egg using their package to see if it really works.
Team Goal: This exercise teaches the team to work together and communicate, it also brings them together with the common goal of both winning the egg drop and successfully creating an egg package.