Team building exercises can be a great way to break the ice, promote communication and team cohesion. That is when they’re done right. However, the mention of team-building exercises often illicit stifled groans and eye rolls from team members. Who hasn’t had the “pleasure” of participating in a series of games that did little more than annoy and possibly injure their teammates.
There are thousands of team building games and ice breakers online. Some of them are time-tested classics. Others border on the absurd. When deciding what kind of games you want to play, there are a few things that you should avoid.
First, avoid paintball or any similar activities. Chances are, these kinds of games will only lead to injury and inflamed tensions as disgruntled employees take revenge on supervisors, agile teammates outmaneuver slower ones, and office cliques are reenforced.
It’s also a good idea to avoid physical challenges as ice breakers. Nobody wants to relive the humiliation or discomfort of middle school gym class while at work. More importantly, for employees who are sensitive about personal space, getting up close and personal with relative strangers can be off-putting. Crawling around or holding hands with strangers may seem like a great way to bring your team together but it may have the exact opposite effect.
Similarly, avoid games of humiliation. Try to avoid games that put people on the spot or force them to reveal things about themselves that they may not be ready to share. Avoid role-playing games and humiliating punishments.
Instead, opt for games like Truth or Lies. The participants decide how much of themselves they want to reveal and the team is challenged to see how well they know their teammate. Doing an office egg drop or another creative endeavor is another great way to promote communication and creativity in the office. Scavenger hunts, blind drawing, and puzzle games such as “This Is Better Than That” all provide teammates an opportunity to get to know each other without pressure, humiliation, or injury.
Team building games don’t have to be the worst part of your company retreat or weekly meeting. With a little attention to detail and creativity, you can improve your team’s communication and promote creativity while having fun.