I spoke last year at the HR Star Conference. Because I wasn't a keynote speaker (usually limited to 60-90 minutes) but presented a full day team building workshop, I had the time to experiment and develop some team activities.
I used to think games and activities were designed to waste time. They seemed irrelevant, they were often forced on the group, and typically some people refused to participate. I have since started using games and activities to enhance the message and build congruence in a group. Like improv, team building activities goes a long way to help a speaker or instructor achieve learning objectives.
To achieve goals, team members must understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. In a Donald Trump Apprentice-like way, activities reveal the good, the bad and ugly about the ability of teams to work together and contribute to an outcome. Outside of the context of the workplace, tension is dispelled, participants are disarmed, and learning can take place. Laughing together is the best way to break down barriers, decrease tension and build a strong and congruent team, and team building is accomplished from interactive activities because they are fun and create a lot of humor.
Pointers to make games and activities work for the group:
- Create the Context. Make sure the activity helps construct a team building concept and enhances group understanding. A game will seem irrelevant if it is artificially placed without any context for building knowledge.
- Define the Objective. Explain why we are doing the activity and reinforce it throughout.
- Relate the activity to real group issues. Speaking for the HR Conference, I defined an HR Challenge ( i.e.- they chose dealing with employees who shows up late for work) and designed the activity around this, continually relating it to the workplace. We came up with nearly a dozen techniques to handle this reoccurring workplace issue.
- Debrief. Ask participants what they learned, how it applies to their work, what themes emerged, how they felt doing the activity etc
Leadership, conflict management, creativity, innovation, listening skills are all built through good team building activities.
Apply these concepts and read our blog 5 Team Building Activities for ideas to build your own team building workshop.
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