Musings, interviews, product stories & more to boost your digital marketing.
Brought to you by the people behind Brightpod.
Teamwork

Team Building Activities That Will Last You Through the Year

March 6, 2018

No, there is nothing wrong with taking your people out for a round of drinks every Friday night. And if you have the time and the budget for it, taking your team out for a weekend by the beach or a day of lakeside camping may just be the best thing you can do, every once in a while, to get your team’s spirits up, their energy renewed, and creative juices flowing.

After all, whatever helps keep your people happy and feeling good about their job qualifies as a good enough effort towards building and sustaining an active and productive organizational culture.

However, even retreats can get painfully uninteresting after a point. Especially if you are going on one without a plan or a purpose. Maybe your team is facing creative fatigue or that inflammable egos at play – unless you know what needs fixing, an outing or a random day of team building activity will do very little to ‘build’ anything substantial in your team.

Building a stronger team starts with understanding the team

The solution for building better teams and improving collaboration lies in understanding the nature of the team, the kind of work they do, and the forces at work. Uncover and understand the full range of dynamics at play to identify what needs improving – maybe it's a team-wide lack of some technical skill or a piercing shortage of motivation. Recognizing what will drive your team to success is the first step in planning a group activity.

“Peg your team’s capabilities against the broad team objectives. Identify the enablers of success and build the one(s) that the team lacks.”

Start by identifying your team’s competencies as well as bottlenecks and think about all the ways you can groom your team to meet the objective that’s set for them. Set up success markers – growth in productive outcomes, lower dependency on costly resources, enhanced quality of interactions – and then go on to identifying activities and training that can help you raise your team’s performance to the desired level.

Here are some of our favorite group-friendly activities that cover the broad spectrum of concerns when it comes to team of all shapes and sizes - from creative fatigue to skill caveats. Once you know who you are engaging and for what, cherry pick from some of these activities to get your team to work and collaborate in a way that’s most desirable.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES TO BOOST CREATIVITY

Activity name: Connect the unconnected

Type: Indoor

For: Crafting new ideas

Duration: 1-2 hours

Number of participants: No more than 15

What you’ll need: Blank cards, an empty shoe box, paper sheets and pens

How to go about it: Divide the participants into small groups. Ask each group to write down an idea for, say, a marketing campaign, a new product line, or something as abstract as designing an empty space on the office floor. Simultaneously, get each participant to share what they think are the organization’s values and attributes. Write each value down in a piece of paper, folded into chits and placed inside a box. Now, ask each team to pick 1-2 chits from the box and combine the values with the idea they have come up with to make a thorough plan for whatever it is you asked them to.

Activity name: Pro Pictionary

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Emerging from a creative rut

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: Groups of 2 or 4

What you’ll need: A whiteboard/blank paper sheets and a couple of markers

How to go about it: Instead of getting teams to sketch out a movie name for their mates to guess, take the game’s difficulty up a notch. Get the creative juices flowing and have them sketch prominent personalities, technology, metaphors or even some quirky recipe.

Activity name: Pick from purpose

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Thinking innovatively

Duration: 30 mins

Number of participants: Up to 30, divided into no more than 6 groups

What you’ll need: Paper chits and pen

How to go about it: Like charades, but here, one member of each team is asked to describe an object by enacting its many use cases to the rest of her mates.

Activity name: Convert it

Type: Indoor

For: Stimulating creative thinking, prototyping and facilitation

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: Any number

What you’ll need: A not-so-busy space and some stationery

How to go about it: Task a team with translating things from one medium to another – a piece of music as an art, a story as a limerick or a concept turned into haiku. By pushing the team to think beyond the nature of the subject, the activity unleashes a bolt of creative ideas and in all sorts of directions.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES TO BOOST PROBLEM-SOLVING

Activity name: Zero drafting

Type: Indoor

For: Understanding a problem better

Duration: 1-2 hours

Number of participants: No more than 7

What you’ll need: A shared google doc

How to go about it: Ask the participants to think about a crisis situation that has or may befall the team. Then, encourage everyone to prepare a shared document where they, as a group, collect everything that know and understand about a problem as it is now. Get them to identify what they need to know more and their concerns, too. This is the first step towards the right course of action.

Activity name: Brainwave

Type: Indoor

For: Collecting as many solutions as possible

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: No more than 15

What you’ll need: A whiteboard and a few markers

How to go about it: After giving the participants some time to think about a problem, collect as a group to openly bounce off solutions off each other, irrespective of the correctness and feasibility of the idea. Avoid questioning and judgment, focusing instead on collecting a repository of ideas - either a laundry list of solutions or a list of more curated, favorable options to pick from.

Activity name: The Human Knot

Type: Outdoor

For: Critical thinking

Duration of the activity: 30-45 mins

Number of participants: No more than 15

What you’ll need: An open space

How to go about it: Gather the participants in a circle. Each member must extend their right hand and grab the hand of someone from the circle who is not adjacent to them. Then, they must do the same with their left hand. Finally, they must work to entangle themselves without releasing either of the hands. If they do so, they must start the activity all over again.

Activity name: Six thinking hats

Type: Indoor

For: Parallel thinking

Duration of the activity: 1-2 hours

Number of participants: No less than 6

What you’ll need: 6 colored hats, a whiteboard, and a couple of markers

How to go about it: A system of problem evaluation developed by Edward de Bono, for this, identify 6 modes of thinking – typically fact-based, emotion-based, management-centric, logic-based, optimistic, creative -  that can affect the success of a solution at hand. Each mode is identified by a colored hat and assigned to a competent one person in a team. This person has to assess and reason a solution from the point of view of the colored hat assigned. So, if a person wears a blue hat, representing management-based thinking, they have to evaluate and articulate, say, the problem from that perspective, talking about, for instance, key qualifiers, the broad goals, and business outcomes.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES FOR BETTER TEAM COMMUNICATION

Activity name: Treasure Hunt

Type: Outdoor

For: Improving coordination and collaboration

Duration: 2-4 hours

Number of participants: Up to 10 groups of 2 individuals each.

What you’ll need: Ample space, some stationery, and something that can qualify as ‘treasure’

How to go about it: Go at it like the Amazing Race. Use the stationery to write down a series of clues – each connecting one to the other. Write as many clues as the number of teams so that every team gets a chance at the prize. Place these clues strategically and then kick off the hunt. If you can, supplement the clues with fun, goofy tasks, the completion of each giving access to some clue – finding a specific object, performing a song in front of some strangers, juggling some tennis balls for a few seconds, etc.

Activity name: Minefield

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Building trust and coordination

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: No more than 10, divided into groups of 2

What you’ll need: A large space, some items that can pass for obstacles and a blindfold

How to go about it: Strategically arrange in a large space some obstacles - a wooden pole, mud pits, and rubber tires. One person from each team is blindfolded and made to stand at one end of the obstacle course. The sighted member stands on the other end and guides the first person through the space, helping them avoid the obstacles, to arrive at the same spot as them.

Activity name: The Elephant List

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Building a culture of openness and transparency

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: No more than 15

What you’ll need: An ambient space and some stationery

How to go about it: To address the ‘elephant in the room’ or multiple such concerns, teams are encouraged to write down an ‘elephant’ concern that they feel they can Control, can Influence and/or need to Accept. They must clearly mention whether their concern is a ‘C,’ ‘I,’ or an ‘A’ and must not mention their name against it. Collect the elephants and read them out loud. Identify how many ‘A’s, for instance, are issues that the team must accept, and how many ‘I’s, for example, can be turned to ‘C’s. Then tackle all C and I issues as a team.

Activity name: Listen Up

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Improving listening abilities

Duration: 45 mins to an hour

Number of participants: No more than 10, divided into groups of 2

What you’ll need: An ambient space

How to go about it: A member of each pair is asked to speak for a few minutes about a certain subject, chosen randomly or appointed by the activity moderator. Once finished, the second member of the group must summarize the sayings of the person as is, without agreeing or disagreeing with the views shared.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES TO DEVELOP LEADERSHIP SKILLS

Activity name: Build it

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Developing delegation skills

Duration: 1-2 hours

Number of participants: Up to 25, divided into no more than 5 groups

What you’ll need: As many tables as the number of teams and some stationery

How to go about it: One person is chosen as the leader who must communicate and delegate a task, as appointed by the moderator of the activity, to the other members of the team. Individuals in the team can be assigned a specific role – leader, delegator, builder, log keeper, etc. Each table is timed and evaluated for how fast they complete the task and how they complete it.

Activity name: The Mascot Attempt

Type: Indoor

For: Fostering shared leadership

Duration: 30-45 mins

Number of participants: Up to 15, divided into groups of no more than 5

What you’ll need: Some stationery

How to go about it: Each team is asked to identify and list the strengths and positive attributes of their team’s mates. After a brief discussion, each team is then asked to identify the qualities of the ‘ultimate’ team member, along with this character’s unique story and what makes this person ‘ultimate.’ The members are then asked to introspect to identify their own weaknesses and how they can better themselves to match up to the team’s expectations.

Activity name: Cue the value

Type: Indoor

For: Recognizing and building team values

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: Up to 15, divided into groups of no more than 5

What you’ll need: Some stationery

How to go about it: Ask each team to list as many values as possible, no less than 10 in total, that represent the members of the group. Once done, ask each team to eliminate 3 values that they feel, as a collective, are of least importance. Repeat this step but this time ask the teams to eliminate 3 more values that are relatively less important than the ones remaining. Finally, gather the teams to share the values they feel are most important to them and why. Engage the groups to identify the similarities as well as the differences in the choice of values and if they think that the values elected by them represent those of the organization as well.

Activity name: Create a new you

Type: Indoor

For: Harnessing interpersonal qualities and personal growth

Duration: 30-45 mins

Number of participants: Up to 10

What you’ll need: Blanks paper sheets and colored pens

How to go about it: Ask each participant to sketch the person sitting next to them, clearly identifying/mentioning their present values and personal attribute. Also ask each person to sketch themselves on a separate sheet of paper, once again identifying their current values and distinct characteristics. Engage participants to share their sketches of the person next to them with the said individual, until each one holds the sketch they’ve created of themselves as well as the one created by the person next to them. Invite everyone to review the differences and similarities and understand how they see themselves as well as how others see them.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES TO IMPROVE STRATEGIC THINKING

Activity name: Squared

Type: Outdoor

For: Crisis management

Duration: 15 mins

Number of participants: 20-24, divided into groups of 4 or 5

What you’ll need: Long pieces of rope for each group and blindfolds for everyone

How to go about it: Members of each team are handed a piece of rope and made to stand in circle while blindfolded. They are asked to drop the rope and walk a couple of steps away from their spot. One person is asked to remain silent. The remaining members are allowed to speak, and must communicate with each other to come to the rope, pick it up and form with it a perfect enough square.

Activity name: The Egg Drop

Type: Outdoor

For: Lateral thinking and creative problem-solving

Duration: 30 mins

Number of participants: Up to 30, divided into groups of no more than 6

What you’ll need: An egg per team (plus a few extra) and some stationery

How to go about it: Using only the materials provided, ask each team to fashion a contraption, in 30 mins, that can prevent the egg from breaking when dropped from a height of, say, 5 feet.

Activity name: Worst case scenario

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Analogical assessment and creative problem solving

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: No more than 15, divided into groups of no more than 5

What you’ll need: Some stationery

How to go about it: Present the teams with a worst-case scenario – stranded on a deserted island with limited supplies or a competitive threat to your forthcoming product launch. The teams, using only the limited resources assigned, must come up with creative ways to overcome the problem. Encourage the teams to discuss their solutions openly.

Activity name: Case study session

Type: Indoor

For: Simulated learning and creative thinking

Duration: 2 hours

Number of participants: Up to 30, divided into groups of no more than 6

What you’ll need: A standard case study for all participating teams and some stationery

How to go about it: Ask each team to solve a case study as a group. Have each team present their viewpoints and solutions and open the forum for discussion after every team has had a chance to share their notes and views. Be sure to discuss best practices at the end of the session.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES TO BUILD MOTIVATION

Activity name: Motivation manual

Type: Indoor

For: Creating a source of motivation

Duration: 1-2 hours

Number of participants: At least 12

What you’ll need: Blank cards and colorful markers

How to go about it: Get each member of the team to write down something that inspires them – a quote, a saying, a story or a piece of advice. Collect each note and bind it into a collection. Pick one from the collection every once in a while, say, once a month, and place it in a prominently visible spot! If possible, share a copy of this with every member of your team.

Activity name: Silver linings

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Positive stimulation and morale building

Duration: 15-30 mins

Number of participants: No more than 20

What you’ll need: Nothing in particular

How to go about it: Pair up the participants and have one member from each group narrate a negative/difficult instance from their life – personal or professional. The second member then has to identify all the things that are seemingly positive in the story as well as recognize a silver lining in each negative instance mentioned.

Activity name: Winning moments

Type: Indoor

For: Positive reinforcement

Duration: Not applicable

Number of participants: As many as in a team

What you’ll need: The ability to spot winning moments

How to go about it: Every once in a while, say twice a month, acknowledge a good deed by a team member. It doesn’t have to be a professional win. Acknowledge good actions and promote it by way of email or group chats. To make it more special, have the team give this kind of acknowledgment a name.

Activity name: Talisman

Type: Indoor

For: Encouraging balance in life

Duration: 30 mins

Number of participants: Up to 20

What you’ll need: 20 everyday objects, like a book, paperweight, or a pen

How to go about it: Once you have collected 20 everyday items (you can ask your team members to contribute one item each for this activity), ask each person to choose one item, irrespective of whether they’ve brought it or not, as a personal ‘talisman’ to remind them to achieve balance in their life. Once everyone has chosen an object, ask them to explain their choice and how they hope to use it to attain work-life balance.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES FOR WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS INTO THE TEAM

Activity name: Trust Fall

Type: Outdoor

For: Building confidence among members of a team

Duration: 1-2 hours

Number of participants: At least 10, including the new member(s)

What you’ll need: A large space with a raised platform or a dais

How to go about it: First, gather the group around the raised platform. Have a member climb up the platform and ask that they turn their back to the crowd. On the count of three, they must fall on their back and all the members surrounding the dais much catch the person safely using just their hands.

Activity name: Fact or Fiction

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Getting the team members to know one another

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: As many as around

What you’ll need: Blank cards and pens

How to go about it: On a piece of paper, have each member of the team write down their name as well as two things about them that are true and one that is false. Make sure everyone check marks what's fiction. Gather everyone’s scribbles, and out loud, reveal each one-by-one for others to correctly guess.

Activity name: Cocktail making

Type: Outdoor

For: Icebreaking (literally, too)

Duration: 30 mins to 1 hour

Number of participants: As many as in a team

What you’ll need: Bar supplies, whiteboard and markers

How to go about it: Inculcate a sense of oneness by getting your team to fashion their very own cocktail. Have the members enlist the qualities that best describe each of the members of the team and whip up a concoction using spirits and flavors that best represent the collective attributes of the team. Give it this drink a name and upgrade it every time somebody new joins the clout.

Activity name: Never have I ever

Type: Outdoor

For: Building closeness in the team

Duration: 30 mins

Number of participants: No less than 15

What you’ll need: A fun space, such as a pub, and a round of drinks for all

How to go about it: Everyone sits in a circle or a communal table with a drink in their hands. Each person asks the group something they have ‘never ever’ done, and if someone has in fact done the said activity, they must take a swig from their tipple. Be sure that the questions are fun and interesting but not hurtful or uncomfortable.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES FOR REMOTE TEAM MEMBERS

Activity name: Book exchange

Type: Outdoorsy

For: Getting to know the team members intimately

Duration: Not applicable

Number of participants: As many as in a team

What you’ll need: A book to spare

How to go about it: Ask everyone in your team, remote and otherwise, to send one of their favorite books to a team member. Plan it in a way that everyone sends and receives one book. Ask each person to write a personal note saying why they love the book and what they think the new reader will enjoy most.

Activity name: Skills exchange

Type: Online

For: Engaging in shared experiences

Duration: 30 mins

Number of participants: No more than 10

What you’ll need: Decent internet bandwidth and some time to spare

How to go about it: Invite everyone in the team to teach the rest of their mates something they excel at. It can be something non-work related as well. Set aside 30mins for this activity every week, and ensure everyone in the team gets a chance to contribute a skill.

Activity name: Virtual game days

Type: Online

For: Building comradery

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: As many as in a team, divided into groups of no more than 6

What you’ll need: Decent internet bandwidth and some time to spare

How to go about it: Following a consensus, indulge your team in a virtual game, such as poker, where everyone gets to participate and collaborate in a non-professional setting.

Activity name: 2-minute catch-ups

Type: Online

For: Keeping in touch

Duration: 2 minutes, duh

Number of participants: As many as in the team

What you’ll need: Willingness to spare some time before a team meeting

How to go about it: Before every team meeting, virtual or telephonic, get one member to share what they’ve been up to this past week with the rest of the lot. It can be something work related or non-work related, too.

TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES FOR SENIOR MANAGEMENT

Activity name: Better boss

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Personal development

Duration: 30mins to 1 hour

Number of participants: As many as in the leadership position

What you’ll need: An ambient space and some stationery

How to go about it: Ask each participant to write down their own qualities as a boss. Then, ask them to list the qualities of the best boss and the worst boss they’ve worked with. Once done, ask each participant to compare the similarities and the differences between the three sets of qualities identified and to review their own leadership style.

Activity name: Volunteer days

Type: Outdoor

For: Personal development and perspective building

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: As many as in the leadership position

What you’ll need: To collaborate with a social organization

How to go about it: Every month, indulge your leadership team in an hour of community service – helping out at a children’s home, planting trees, cleaning the local beach, etc. Be sure to explain the importance of ‘giving back’ and how their efforts individually and collectively impact social welfare.

Activity name: Winning agenda

Type: Indoor

For: Conducting effective meetings

Duration: 1 hour

Number of participants: Up to 20

What you’ll need: A large activity space, a sample agenda, and some stationery

How to go about it: Divide the participants into small groups if there are more than 10 participants for the activity. Present to the teams a problem-solving scenario, such as reworking a marketing campaign due to a competitive threat, and have them develop a comprehensive meeting agenda for the same. At the end of the allotted time, review all agendas as a group to identify the different agenda designs and encourage best practices.

Activity name: Key to communication

Type: Indoor/Outdoor

For: Imparting communication best practices

Number of participants: Up to 10

What you’ll need: An ambient space and some stationery

How to go about it: Instruct the group to craft various kinds messages for different work situations – poor conduct by an employee, an achievement by a high-performer and one by a poor performer, a bad press situation, instances of poor team dynamics, etc. Analyze the responses as a group to identify the best way to communicate during various work situations.

Well, that’s that.

As you can see, we are big fans of team building activities here at Brightpod. Even when we are a group of too many, with a little help from the in-house platform, planning takes place rather seamlessly with the aid of ‘pods’ and the lot of us come together quite comfortably, despite the big number, to share ideas, own activities, and collaborate over activity execution. Now that I think about it, even the planning bit of things turns into a fun little team building activity!

And, fairly speaking, it is the likes of our friends at bitly and marketo, with their marketing happy hours and ‘lunch and learn’ days, who inspire us to keep investing in team building year after year. After all, to harness and nurture a culture that thrives and grows the organization, one must draw on engagement programs that build morale, boost productivity and spare room for creative and emotional growth of our people. And likely so, we encourage you to actively make time for team building and team nurturing initiatives that not only contribute to the welfare of your team members but help build super resilient, high-performing teams, too.

And while you are it, do share some of the interesting activities you’ve engaged in or organized for your team and what was it all about. We’d love to add more to our list.

Managing marketing projects shouldn’t be chaotic —Try Brightpod for free and start focusing on what matters.

Meeta Sharma

Meeta Sharma is a content marketing specialist and regularly writes about her domain and start-up life.

TeamworkThings to Know About Working With a Content Writer

Today’s world is extremely well connected. You could be sat at home and in a matter of seconds be chatting to someone online, in full High Definition, who�...

TeamworkMarketers Take Note: A Sure-Shot Way to Drive Growth Is by Investing in People

One of the things you most frequently pick up at any marketing meetings these days is the term ‘growth’. And for obvious reasons, too. The need of the ho...

Teamwork5 Ways Uncooperative Team Members Thwart Your Project (And How to Save It)

You never know when you’ll be working with an uncooperative team member. You can’t beat them, and you can’t afford to join them. You need your marketin...

Join Boost

A refreshing weekly newsletter handcrafted for the smart digital marketer.