Your group of employees is small but mighty. Each team member is an integral piece in a tightly knit system of communication, collaboration, and creativity. When this small but mighty community is ready to reinforce connection and revitalize work flow, what are the best team building activities for a small group?
Maybe you’re traveling away from home base for your corporate retreat, or you’re setting aside time right in your own office. Either way, the trust falls and feelings circles of yesteryear’s cringe worthy team building activities should be left behind in favor of something more worthy of your team’s precious time.
As a leader of your organization, you have a big decision to make. What activities will be an investment in the future of your company, rather than a drain on your resources and patience?
I’ll share my top 5 recommendations for a small group team programs below, but first a bit of context to help you better understand the ups, downs, do’s and don’ts.
The Ups and Downs of Small Group Team Building
There are distinct advantages to working with a small group, but also some pitfalls to look out for when choosing your team building activity. A small group environment is amazing because everyone has the opportunity to participate & communicate. However, this also creates the potential for individuals to be singled out in a way that might feel uncomfortable.
For the more reticent employee, the full force of the spotlight might be a little too much to handle, so it’s important to choose a team building activity that shines a warm glow on each employee but doesn’t leave anyone feeling overly embarrassed or exposed.
Key Elements of Successful Small Group Programs
The best team building activities for a small group should offer elements of each of the four key concepts listed below.
- Balanced Communication: your activity should give your employees the opportunity to speak up and listen to one another, helping to strengthen the flow of information and ideas in your work community.
- Collaboration – Your employees should have the opportunity to work together on a project, task, or common goal during the course of the activity. Collaboration is key to your goal of becoming a highly effective team.
- Motivation – Whether your employees are engaging in some light competition, or working together to achieve a common goal (or some combination of both) there must be some motivating element to your team building activity or your employees will lose interest.
- Creativity – Give your team the chance to get creative and think outside of the box. Innovation in any business is born out of creativity, so it’s important to work that muscle outside of the pressure of your daily company environment.
Here’s a bit more about the elements for planning effective team building exercises. This article also includes ideas for large groups too, just in case you change your plans!
5 Great Team Building Activities for A Small Group
The small group format provides incredible potential for game changing growth in communication within a work environment. New bonds and deeper levels of trust form between employees, and we see each small group walk away with newly forged connections and sense of community spirit.
Based on this extensive experience, here are some of my top recommendations for the best team building activities for a small group.
1. Team Building Through Song
Yes, this is my company’s bread and butter, so I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased towards claiming that time spent with our small group team building program is awesome. But after over ten years of watching small groups walk in with no idea what to expect, and walk out cheering and fired up with their accomplishments, I can honestly say there is no better way to get your team motivated.
Prior to your event, we’ll work with your leadership to fully understand group dynamics and get a clear idea of your goals for your team building event, so you get the most effective experience possible.
As the event begins, our hit songwriter facilitators will set the stage with a fun and entertaining musical introduction before the big reveal to your employees: that we are all writing a song about your company today.
Your team will create a song (with the skilled guidance of the facilitator) based on your shared experiences and goals. There are no bad ideas during the brainstorming process, and everyone will be heard and included, while never feeling overly singled out. This is a true collaborative process, strengthening bonds of communication and also providing some healthy competition as your employees get more and more invested in seeing their lyric ideas appear in the newly forming song. The creative juices will flow, new levels of trust will form, and everyone will seamlessly work together for a common goal: your new song.
The look of pride and joy on the faces of each small group as they all join together to sing their final creation is truly amazing. The journey from initial disbelief to fully a finished song that honors your company, your mission, and your employees is short but powerful. You’ll walk away with a recording of your new hit song that you can keep and treasure forever.
2. Escape Game
Get your team out of the office and into escape mode! The escape game franchise has spread all across America, and is an easy and cost effective way to get your team working towards a common goal (escaping a locked room) by communicating and collaborating to solve complex clues.
Your group will collaborate to solve a series of clues to unlock their final escape from the room. Even the quietest among your ranks will be shouting out ideas as the race against the clock ticks down, second by second. A little healthy competition will ensue as your employees race to see who can solve the clues the fastest. Everyone will have to be a little bit creative. Thinking outside of the box is key to solving these far out clues.
Working together to escape situations ranging from spy thriller casinos to the zombie apocalypse will provide a very powerful shared motivation. Your small group will make it out by the buzzer as a more cohesive, tightly knit unit than ever before. Get away from your usual routine and lock down your small group team building activity with the escape game!
3. Cooking Competition
Channel your inner Top Chef and get cooking with your employees. This team building activity allows you to get your hands dirty in the kitchen, enjoy some fun and creative competition, and best of all, eat the fruits of your labor at the end of the session.
Employees are divided into small teams after watching a brief demonstration by a professional chef. Each team receives several key ingredients that they must use in their dish in order to be considered for prizes. A timer is set, and each team gets cooking. You’ll see your employees collaborating to create amazing recipes, getting creative together, and racing against the clock to win best dish.
Once time is a called, a judging panel decides the best dish based on categories like creativity, presentation, and taste. After the winner is decided, it’s time to eat together and bond over your variety of delicious dishes.
4. Geo Scavenger Hunt
Get your team out and moving with a geo scavenger hunt. Whether you’re visiting a new city for your team building activity or staying in your home town, this high tech version of an age old favorite activity will have your team working together and seeing the sights.
Geocaching involves using a GPS receiver to find a series of hidden coordinates placed in geo-caches hidden in locations all over the world. Simply log on to geocaching.com for over 5 million coordinates to choose from.
Choose a few coordinates in the city that you are exploring and provide your team with GPS receivers. The team that finds the clues or mementos you’ve hidden at each of the locations and makes it to the finish line the fastest wins the geo-scavenger hunt. This is a great way to provide some friendly competition, see the city, and get your team collaborating.
5. Story Programs
Looking for a great way to get your employees to speak up, communicate, and get to know each other better? The Storytelling activity is a simple yet elegant way to get everyone talking up a storm. All you need for this activity is 5 minutes, a theme, a little bit of bravery, and the truth. These simple requirements make this very easy to put together, even during an hour set aside at your home office.
Sit in a circle or around a large table so that no one feels that they are standing “at the front” to avoid that sense of feeling overly singled out. Choose a theme for your story slam. Each participant has 5 minutes to tell a story based on his or her own experience around this theme.
Stir the pot with a little healthy competition by adding a judging panel element to your story slam event. At the end of the session, the panel can bestow the prize of Best Story, and voila, you’ve got a bit of healthy competition added to the mix to provide a little extra motivation.
Only one hour after the first story begins to unfold, you’ll find your self with a more motivated, engaged, and connected group of employees. Everyone gets the chance to speak from the heart, and leaves with a deeper knowledge of their fellow employees.
Before you make your decision on what team program is best for your small group, take the time to consider your goals for the event. Ask yourself what you want your employees to walk away with. What is the best investment of your time, energy, and resources?
Choosing the best team building activity for a small group is all about allowing your employees to express their authentic voices while getting creative and having fun. At the end of the day, give your team a truly memorable and effective experience to walk away with.