15 Teamwork Activities For Any Group
Most people look at teamwork challenges as a chore. They are either seen as uncomfortable situations which force people together or just another chance for someone to shine brighter than everyone else. Here are 15 teamwork activities for any group, which require everyone to take part. They range from the creative to the athletic, the empathetic to brainy, and much more. The one thing they do have in common is the potential to ignite interpersonal connections in your workplace.
1. The PB & J Challenge
The purpose of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Challenge is to promote communication and critical thinking skills within your group. Have everyone find a partner and give each participant a sheet of paper and a pencil.
Instruct each person to write the most detailed instructions they can for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Encourage them to think about every single step involved. Once done, have everyone swap instructions with their partner.
Now the fun can begin. Give each person everything they need to make their sandwich, but let them know they can only use the instructions provided by their partner as their guide. They cannot pick up, move, open, or use any supplies or ingredients that were not written as so, nor can they add or take away any steps.
Hilarity will ensue if someone has forgotten, "open the bread bag," "pick up the knife," or "open the can of peanut butter." See if anyone successfully makes it to the end. This challenge is a wake-up call for being clear with words and directions.
2. Lego Matching
For this exercise, direct your group to organize into pairs. One partner will be the "builder," and the other the "speaker." Put a divider between them so they can no longer see one another and give each person the same Legos. Their color, shape, size, style, and number must be identical.
The activity will begin with the speaking partner creating a Lego structure on their side of the divider. The “builder” should not see any of the activity taking place. Once complete, the “speaker” will then try to guide the “builder” in replicating the structure on their side, without seeing the “builder’s" progress. However, there is a catch. The "builder" cannot ask questions. They must go off of the instructions of the "speaker" as best as they can.
Once complete, both structures should be the same in color, shape, and orientation. When the "builder" is finished, remove the divider so both parties can see how closely their structures match. It is unlikely they will be exact replicas, but the pair that gets the closest can officially be crowned the winner.
3. Relay Races
Relay races are a tried-and-true method for encouraging teamwork. You can stick with a traditional approach like a burlap sack race or make up your own variation, like a pool inflatable race or three-legged race. Simply divide your course, so the first participant only races to the first milestone, at which point they can hand off their place in the race to a second runner, and so on. The team whose final participant crosses the finish line first wins. Make the race as simple or as complex as you like.
4. Scavenger Hunts
Everyone enjoys a scavenger hunt, and they are perfect opportunities to encourage teamwork and communication. Simply choose a theme and get started.
For scavenger hunts involving kids, it is wise to keep the search area small. Stick to a home, classroom, or park to hide your clues. Use quotes from books or movies, or riddles to guide your group to the "treasures."
Scavenger hunts for adults can get more complicated. They can cover an entire building, neighborhood, or even city. Use technology to incorporate information from Google, QR codes, or social media. Time it or add physical challenges to create even more pressure to work together. You can even organize the scavenger hunt to end at a location where all groups can celebrate their efforts and further bond, now that any remaining ice is (hopefully) broken.
Food brings people together within and across many cultures, and it is no different for small groups. Host a dinner for your team to give them some downtime to get to know one another better. Take the bonding to the next level by having your group prepare the meal together. Urge them to introduce their teammates to their traditions and culture through food, so they learn something new about each other. Another idea is to stipulate that they can only prepare a food that starts with the same letter as the first letter of their first name. For example, Javier might bring jalapeño cornbread.
6. Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are increasingly popular. This form of live-action entertainment immerses a group in a real-world experience they have to get out of. They will need to solve clues, puzzles, and codes together that might be in any area of the room, and they only have a set amount of time to do so.
Some escape rooms are designed for thrills, putting your team in situations that are scary or "dangerous." Others are more of a mental challenge, relying on complex clues instead of fright. Anyone can participate in an escape room challenge, and it is likely you will need a range of skills and knowledge to be successful.
Get your team to connect through creativity. Purchase a large canvas, paints, and brushes, and let them create a mural together for their work, practice, or lounge space. It can be beneficial to have a plan for the overarching theme of the mural beforehand. Develop a theme for the piece that reflects the goals, attitudes, or defining attributes of the team. Display it proudly where they can see it often to remind them of the beauty and cohesiveness of their working relationships and dynamic.
8. Egg Races
There are many variations of an egg race, but few are as thrilling as the original. For this activity, have your group work in pairs. One partner will be blindfolded and hold a spoon in front of them. The other partner will act as their eyes, guiding them to the finish line with detailed instructions of where to walk, when to stop, and what to avoid.
Place an egg in the spoon of the blindfolded participant. On the count of three, let the race begin. To make it even more interesting, add obstacles to the course, like cones or tires that the blindfolded racer must navigate past or around. Whoever holds on to their egg longest is the winner.
9. Charity Runs
Inspire your team to come together for a charitable cause. Host a charity run, where all the money raised by each participant goes to a mutually agreed upon recipient. Give your team even more incentive to work toward their common goal by offering a prize if they can raise a set amount of money. This will get not only them, but their family and friends involved, as well.
10. Service Opportunities
Sometimes when a team struggles with working together, a little perspective can go along way. Organize an opportunity for your group to serve those in need. Schedule some time in a soup kitchen, visit the elderly in a senior living facility, or volunteer in a children's hospital. Not only can your caring presence make someone else's day a little bit brighter, but it can also renew their appreciation for how important it is to have one another.
11. Contests, Competitions, or Face-offs
There's no shortage of team-building skills when it comes to sports games. Have your team challenge another to test their ability to work together. Choose a sport that is easy for everyone involved to play. Bowling, volleyball, kickball, and dodgeball are all good places to start. To promote even more unity, come up with a team name, a "uniform," and a cheer. If you’re playing sports involving bases, let each person designate their own “walk-up song.” If a team or person wins, reward them as you see fit.
You probably haven't participated in a show-and-tell session since elementary school, but it can be a great strategy for teamwork. Teamwork is not only about communication, efficiency, or accountability -- it also requires a desire for people to work with and care for one another.
Ask the people in your group to bring in one of their most treasured possessions. By the end of the activity, your team will likely find common interests they did not know they had and know a few new interesting facts about one another.
13. Human Knots
The Human Knot is another well-known team-building activity, and it is one of the most entertaining. For this exercise, instruct your team to stand close together in a circle.
At the same time, each of the group will reach with their right hand and grab the hand of someone else that is across from them. Then, they will do the same with the left. Make sure no one is holding the hand of either person directly next to them.
Now, it is up to your team to decide how to untangle themselves from one another. No one can let go of each other's hands at any point, but it is okay to readjust the grip if a position becomes too uncomfortable. This exercise will force your teammates to work together, hear one another out, refrain from dominating a conversation, and come up with creative ideas. Encourage everyone to get involved, so it is not up to one person to solve the puzzle.
14. Role Play
The theatre is another creative outlet for your team, and it is versatile enough to use in any group or setting. For children, have them reenact their favorite stories, or create one of their own. For adults, ask them to do a comedy sketch or teach one another a lesson or skill on the stage.
To make the project even more collaborative, challenge your group to write a story, create costumes, and design the set.
15. Guided Discussions
It can be helpful to have a frank discussion about what is going right and wrong in the team. When a married couple struggles, they reach out to licensed counselors to find problem-solving strategies to overcome their differences. Groups of any size deal with the same issues and benefit from working through their problems just the same.
If the group, as a whole, is not running smoothly, it may be useful to host an open forum where everyone can speak their mind and offer suggestions without fear of negative consequences. Mutual understanding is key for teamwork, and without it, no game or activity will be helpful.
How Can Online Therapy Help With Conflict Resolution?
Online therapy allows people to express their genuine feelings and thoughts without fear of violence or an intimidating response that could occur in an in-person, uncontrolled environment. A mediator can use the appropriate controls to provide volume to a designated speaker in a virtual conversation.
Another benefit of online therapy in conjunction with building teamwork is that co-workers can schedule a time to meet that is convenient for both of them. This flexibility is an advantage that may not be available with nearby in-person therapy settings.
It can sometimes be intimidating to resolve an interpersonal conflict, especially if the work environment is open. Studies indicate that online therapy and dispute resolution show promise as a pair. In a survey by the Boston Consulting Group, over 200,000 surveyed people indicated that good relationships with colleagues were ranked #2 out of the top ten factors contributing to employee happiness on the job.
As you can see, there are many activities to try when it comes to teamwork. Some are funny, some are serious, and some will break down certain barriers that may have previously hindered group synergy. Use team-building strategies like these often to sustain meaningful and interconnected professional relationships.
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