Great team building event ideas come in many different varieties. Don’t make the mistake of thinking there’s only one ideal team building event for your group. In fact, the most effective team building comes from a series of small and ongoing efforts that can positively impact your workplace.
I’m in the business of delivering team building programs and corporate events, so of course I love it when clients reach out to me for professional help. But there are great things you can do without bringing in an external team building facilitator.
To get you started, here are ten team building event ideas that are fun and productive. You can organize all of these yourself.
10 Fun & Effective Team Builders
- Picture This – This is simple, creative and will generate some laughs. Give everyone in your group a picture and form a circle. Have someone begin by telling a story about the picture they’re holding. Then go to the next person and have them continue the story while incorporating the information on the picture they are holding. Each picture adds a new element. As a group, you have to strive for some kind of narrative from beginning to end. This opens up creative thinking and encourages a team to work as a group as your story evolves from the random pictures. Limit everyone to 2 minutes maximum speaking time.
- Getting To Know You – You’ll break into pairs for this activity. Ask your partner to describe how he or she would spend one month away from work and domestic responsibilities if they had an unlimited budget. This could be a dream trip or a dream staycation. This is a great icebreaker. Everyone will learn more about their colleague’s likes and aspirations. It’s also self-revealing since most of us never take time to imagine this scenario. After pairs are done sharing, each person should share their dream scenarios with the entire group.
- Problems Solved – Create a fictional problem to be solved. This could be a design challenge or something upcoming that perhaps no one else on your team is aware of yet. Or you could find a challenge solved at another company and bring it in as a problem to your team. Have each person come up with a few sentences about how they’d solve the problem. Discuss each idea as a group, making sure to honor every idea’s potential before you move on. This exercise will illuminate the value of everyone’s contribution and will reinforce that everyone on your team has an idea to contribute. This is a great activity for teams in which you may have one or more dominant members who tend to take over. In fact if you’re aware of this dynamic on your team, make sure the more dominant members are the last ones to contribute. This is one of the best team building event ideas for teams who need to recalibrate roles and redistribute how everyone contributes. It will also bring your team together as you share one goal; that of solving your imaginary problem.
- Improv You Can Handle – I’m not a huge fan of forced improv programs because I’ve been embarrassed in just such a setting. But when self led for a small group this should be fun and not intimidating. This acting exercise is a good way to energize your team and enhance your group creativity. It doesn’t require much time but does need some props. Break into several small groups. Each group will have a bag filled with five to six random objects. Each group should create a five minute skit using all the objects in their bag. You can give general guidelines such as; tell a story and use your objects to advance the story line. For example, a pen might be a magic wand that starts a journey. You can customize this program in lots of ways. If you’re getting ready for a new product launch you could invite everyone to use the items in their group’s bag to create a commercial for the new product.
- Powers Of Deduction – This team building idea sounds corny, I admit. But I’ve done it and it’s really energizing. The room will buzz as people circulate getting to know each other while solving a personal problem. Create pairs of things like salt & pepper or bacon & eggs. Write each item on a piece of paper and tape one paper to everyone’s back. Everyone will circulate the room asking for hints about the item named on their back. Make sure to limit this to yes or no questions. Believe it or not, everyone will eventually figure out what item they have named on their back. When everyone has solved their riddle, ask everyone find the person who has their opposite item. Salt will find pepper, etc. Have each pair of people chat informally for three minutes and then ask each person in the room to share one thing they learned about the person who had their opposite item.
- The Marketing Team – Actually, you don’t have to be in marketing to benefit from this simple and fun team building exercise. In fact, if your technical team does this, they may end up with ideas they want to share with marketing! Ask each team member to bring one object from their desk to your gathering. Using this random object as their product, each person should create a slogan, a marketing plan and whatever else they can think of to sell their product. After everyone has their pitch in place, go around the room and give each person three minutes to present their product.
- Truth And Lie At Work – You can do this with a small group gathered together or you can break into pairs. Tell everyone they should prepare two stories about themselves. One should be a true story and one fictional. Each person will then share their stories. The listeners will have to guess which story is true and which one is made up. After each person tells two stories and the true story is revealed, the group should discuss why they thought one was true or false. This will illuminate preconceived notions you may have about your team members and allow you to see each other in different ways. This exercise allows you to be creative and push the envelope, helping your team to bond in different ways.
- Car Talk – This is a great team bonder that you can do at the start of any meeting. Almost all of us own cars and we all have stories to tell about automotive breakdowns and bad experiences. Maybe someone has a mysterious problem like the kind you hear on the radio show, Car Talk. Ask someone to share a car story. Odds are that someone else on your team has had a similar problem and may already have found a solution. After you’ve bonded over a good car story, ask someone on your team to share a current work problem. Sharing car problems and solutions is very similar to sharing best practices at work to find solutions. In the spirit of car talk, see if your team can solve your real problem by swapping story, experience and best practices. The least you’ll get out of this is a referral for a good mechanic!
- Write Your Team Song – Create your team lyrics to the melody of a well-known hit song. Bring in a karaoke track of a well-known song or if you have a musician on your team, ask them to play the music for you. Use a flip chart to capture ideas. Ask these question to get source material for your song: If your team had a title what would it be? What is you team’s mission? What differentiates your products and services? As you answer these questions, lyric themes will evolve. Find your song title first and then write lyrics around the title. Close your session with everyone singing your original lyric.
- Get Out Of The Office – At the risk of sounding simplistic, one of the best team building event ideas you can come up with is simply to get everyone out of the office and into a relaxed environment. Believe it or not, bowling or laser tag can be great ways to bring everyone together to collaborate, compete and share quality time. If you top this off with cocktails and food, you’ll definitely help people bond and create opportunity for people to better understand their team mates. Don’t underestimate the simple power of fun.
Remember a team building event doesn’t have to be a big deal or a formal outsourced activity. The big events are great for once a year meetings or when a team wants something new or needs outside help to recalibrate. But the things you do every week and every month will have the most impact on your culture and success.
Need More Inspiration?
Team building is an ongoing process that continues to build upon itself with each interaction. Below are some more recent articles I wrote that can help you brainstorm event ideas for you and your staff:
- Top Five Team Building Activities for Large Groups
- Successful Interactive Team Building Activities
- Corporate Team Building Ideas Employees Will Love
- Fun Corporate Events
- 4.5 Team Building Activities You Can Do Tomorrow
If you’d like help creating a memorable and fun team building event for your organization, I’d love to help. Reach out to me and we’ll brainstorm creative ideas together and find the perfect event for your company culture.