The 5 best team building games to improve performance

team building games

A lot of managers expect their employees to develop as a team by themselves. Considering we spend the majority of our lives at work, and happy workers are significantly more productive, it seems crazy that it’s still the case.

People interact in very different ways and different teams will have different types of people. Sales will differ from accounts, marketing will differ from product, and finance will differ from HR. Each department or team will have different personality types and each of those teams will behave differently to other teams.

Regardless of your business however, it’s vital that each team be able to work cohesively amongst themselves, as well as with other teams in the business. If sales is pushing customers by telling them things that aren’t true, this leads to problems in accounts. If accounts aren’t able to process sales, then it can affect the profitability of the business. If marketing is delayed by product, then it affects sales.

The point is, people don’t necessarily have the tools, understanding or skills in order to effectively communicate, work or collaborate with each other. By taking a small amount of time on a regular basis, you’ll be able to fast track relationship building, helping to improve productivity, errors and miscommunication.

To get you started, here’s our 5 best team building games to improve performance:

Team building game #1: Motives

Working well together doesn’t mean you have to be the same as one another. It can simply be because you understand and appreciate each other. After all, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, which can lead to a better balanced team. As Jim Collins writes in his book ‘Good to Great’:

“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

Outcome: Motives is a method to help co-workers to better understand each other, communicate more effectively and handle how each team member reacts in different situations.

How to play: Without getting excessively complicated, have your team sit down together and complete a personality test. Two good personality tests are the DISC assessment and True colors. If you want something that is more detailed and accurate, you can complete an entire DISC profile free here.

Team building game #2: Three truths, one lie.

While extroverts have no trouble in talking about themselves and getting to know others, introverts are often often less likely to share details about themselves. This can make it hard to build relationships as a team, as co-workers are unsure of how people will respond to things.

Outcome: Three truths, one lie helps everyone to get to know each other in an interesting way. This can often clarify interests, develop respect and help find a common element between coworkers.

How to play: Give four identical strips of paper to each participant. Have them write down three truths and one lie, labelling them A, B, C and D. The lie shouldn’t be excessively obvious compared with the truths (i.e. I have travelled back in time), nor should it be rude or crude.

Go around the group and have each person read out their statements in random order. When they’re finished, the team should then discuss which were truths and which was a lie. Each team member writes down an A, B, C or D for the corresponding statements and gets a point for guessing correctly which statement was a lie.

Once everyone has finished, tally up the points and see who’s the winner.

Team building game #3: Building on ideas

When brainstorming sessions happen, it’s often the ‘squeaky wheel that gets the oil’, and vocal people have their ideas put forward. This doesn’t however take into consideration team members that have great ideas that aren’t necessarily open to discussing them in a group environment.

Outcome: ‘Building on ideas’ helps to train your teams creative problem solving, as well as show all team members the contribution of each member is important.

How to play: Create a fictional problem that must be solved. It can be a theoretical product, a riddle, a design challenge, a brain teaser or anything that needs a solution.

Take a large sheet of paper and have each team member write down a sentence or two with an idea, passing the sheet to the next person until everyone has contributed, with each new person building on the idea with another solution. Continue for several rounds until everyone is completely exhausted of ideas and see what results the group gets. You can help the group with clues or reveal as aspect each round.

Doing this with fictional ideals helps to take the pressure of those less likely to contribute due to fear of judgement.

Team building game #4: Resourceful Building

It’s very rare to have all the resources you require to build something perfectly. Whether it be time, money, tools, skills or people, you’ll almost always be short in some area or another.

Outcome: ‘Resourceful Building’ helps your team to think creatively and practice their resourcefulness. This allows them to see things in a different light, make better decisions and ultimately improve performance with the resources they have available.

How to play: Divide your team into equal groups. Give your team a challenge to build something to achieve a clear outcome in a set time limit. This may be as simple as an advanced paper plane or moving a ping pong ball from point A to B.

Give each team the same amount of limited resources and rules to what they can do. See how they go about planning, designing and implementing the structure to accomplish the outcome as a team, and what they can accomplish in a limited time frame.

It’s a great way to challenge your team, in a fun and friendly environment.

Team building game #5: One question

With a variety of different experiences and personalities, your team members will value and think of things differently, each with their pros and cons.

Outcome:  ‘One question’ shows your team that there are multiple ways to view something and that each way has it’s pros and cons. It helps them to appreciate one another and make fewer judgements when co-workers respond differently to how they would. It also helps your employees to see what’s most important to them or a situation.

How to play: Write down a list of scenarios where a person would be chosen to do something. It might be a new job hire, a commander for an army, a CEO, or a marriage. Ask each team member to come up with a “perfect” question to ask the person to determine if they were the best fit for the scenario. Participants are only allowed to come up with one question.

Once everyone has written down their question, discuss the questions among the group and see how each team member approaches the question. It’s an excellent way to determine what people look for in leadership or what they see as important.

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