It is often said that what sets a great organisation apart from a good one is its people. I would go a step further and say that it’s not just the people in the organisation, but how they work together as a team.
You can have the most talented individuals in their field, working with the most cutting-edge technology, but if they aren’t operating as a cohesive whole then their impact is inevitably going to be limited.
The question then becomes, how do you help your people work together to best utilise their collective talents? The truth is there is no one answer or silver bullet. What you will find in this article however are 5 simple, fun and effective activities to bring your team closer together. You’ll be able to organise these activities in less than 10 minutes, batteries not included.
5 Team Building Activity Ideas for Your Team
Team Building Activity #1: Word of the Week
Ever set a New Year’s resolution? Well, an alternative to that is to set a word for the year.
Your word for the year should be something that encapsulates your intention for the next 12 months. Last year mine was swag. Read into that what you will.
Word of the week is the exact same thing… except for the week (go figure). It is a simple statement that reflects both your current context and your behavioural intent for the next 7 days. Your word of the week could be anything from ‘organised’ or ‘energy’ through to ‘calm’ or ‘communicative’.
An effective team building activity is to bring your people together once a week (ideally on a Monday) to each set and communicate their word for the week. Doing so gives others a small glimpse into the context each of their colleagues is working within, building transparency and empathy.
A connected team is a higher-performing team, and this simple weekly ritual will foster communication and teamwork within yours.
Team Building Activity #2: Shout Outs
Who doesn’t like to be recognised for great work? In a busy work environment, it is so easy to get caught up in activity and miss the times when people step up for each other or go above and beyond in their work. And you know what a sure-fire way to discourage people from these stand out behaviours in future? Not recognising them.
An Appreciation Shout Out is an opportunity for a team to come together and simply recognise each other’s effort and achievements. A shout out can be for large achievements, or something as simple as stepping in to help a colleague complete a project. If you’re working remote with your team you can use a tool like Hey Taco! that integrates with Slack to encourage your team to give each other regular praise and shout outs every week.
Recognition is itself a form of reward and having your team come together to celebrate each other’s successes and contributions will not only bond your team but encourage more of these awesome behaviours in future.
Team Building Activity #3: Breathwork
Breathing patterns are a great indicator of internal state. Intentionally entering a pattern of deep and slow breathing through the diaphragm is an excellent individual technique to calm the mind and focus your energy in a productive direction. Doing deep breathing in unison with your team? Game changer.
I see it all the time: when a team breathes in time with each other, something changes in the room.
Human beings are hardwired to connect with people we feel are like us or on the same page. Breathing in time with your teammates creates an intangible but very real sense of connection and interdependent being.
If you’re working with your team remotely, consider holding a 10 minute virtual breath work session. Alternatively, direct your team to free mindfulness meditation apps – we’ve got a whole list of them ready to go.
Team Building Activity #4: Team Lunches
There is a reason why regardless of culture, human beings have always placed an emphasis on providing food or drink as a means of communicating ‘welcome’. This is because breaking bread with others is an experience that stimulates community and trust.
Creating a weekly forum where your team all bring something to contribute to a communal lunch or platter is a ritual that hacks our neurological programming and creates a sense of togetherness. This is a particularly potent strategy if you have a team that is prone to or has experienced siloed thinking, conflict, or who often work remotely from each other.
To do this remotely, tee up a Zoom call for 12pm every day of the workweek. Alternatively, you could create a dedicated Slack channel where people can share what they’re up to on their lunch break and have a good old fashion chin-wag.
Team Building Activity #5: People Presos
It is hard to feel a sense of camaraderie with someone you know next to nothing about. That’s why many high performing sports teams are now focusing on team culture as a priority alongside their physical training regime.
In fact, even if we don’t particularly like someone we are often going to feel more inclined to turn up for the teammate we know, rather than a complete enigma who works across the desk-partition.
What’s one way to hit overdrive on your team getting to know the people they work alongside? Formalise it via a weekly presentation where a member of the team presents to their colleagues about their childhood, cultural, educational or work background, why they got into doing the work that they do, or what is important to them outside of work. If your team are working remotely, consider teeing up a weekly Friday ‘People Preso’ and nominate someone in the team to host it.
Although no substitute for good old’ fashioned conversation, this strategy is a fun and informative way to get people talking about more than ‘How are you going with the brief I sent you yesterday?’.
Final Thoughts on Team Building Activities
So there you have it, five team-building activities that take under 10 minutes each. My recommendation? Choose one or two and give them a crack and see if they stick with your people.
My other recommendation? As much as these tips are 24K gold, don’t try them all at once. If you’ve never committed to this sort of culture-building strategy before and all of a sudden try to implement all 5 tips tomorrow, you’ll likely get responses of equal parts suspicious and weirded out.
Start small by trying one of two of these strategies and stick with what works for you. If and when they start to feel stale, come back to this article and consider another strategy in here for the next step of your team’s culture-building journey.
If you’d like to explore a more in-depth approach to team building and team culture shifting, take a look at our Great Team Framework program, it might just be the thing you’ve been looking for.