It’s no secret that if you want your team to be more effective, productive, happier and successful, they have to work well together. But how can you bring together individuals who have varying skills, contrasting personalities, and different responsibilities?
One tried-and-true method for making your team more cohesive is having them participate in team-building exercises. Throughout my career, I’ve found the following five examples to work well.
Writing Down Expectations
This is a simple team-building exercise where a facilitator hands out blank cards and asks each member to list his or her expectations on the card. After you collect the cards, place the responses onto either a chalkboard or whiteboard so you can discuss them as a team. This way, your team can focus on the ideas rather than who submitted them. In the past, I found that people on my team let their feelings about others get in the way of ideas presented. The focus on the ideas themselves has made the discussions much more fruitful, and has increased enthusiasm.
The Great Egg Drop
This exercise can last up to two hours and can make the workplace a little messy, but it’s a classic problem-solving and collaboration exercise that I enjoy. Start by dividing your team into two or more groups and assign the task of constructing an egg package that is able to sustain an eight-foot drop. Of course, you’ll have to provide your team with the proper tools and materials. The Egg Drop Project has a useful list of materials and the process I like to use.
Once they build the packages, have each team create 30-second ads for whatever they used. After the presentations, have the groups drop their eggs to see whether the packages worked or not. This exercise is fun and has taught us a lot about how working together increases creativity and innovation. The ads are a concrete example of that collaboration, while the egg drop offers an exciting challenge and competitive component.
Not all team-building exercises have to be games. Sometimes, you can bring your team together by being charitable. For us, that means donating our time and/or money to charitable causes. We give each employee two-to-three work days each year where they can go donate their time to a charitable cause. We encourage team members to go in groups and help out together. For two years now, employees have taken the opportunity to mentor at nearby schools, build houses for veterans and volunteer at homeless shelters to provide meals and job training.