Monthly Archives: May 2015

10 Summer Team Building Session Ideas

Functioning as a well-oiled team is important in any organisation. If you don’t already (and I’m sure you do), how about spending one or two hours per week, where staff bring their own coffee and any nibbles to share to a regular time and place to do a different team building activity.

Purpose: improve your own team working skills, get to know more staff, improve staff interaction opportunities and relationships throughout the summer, in preparation for the new term.

Idea: lots of staff will be taking annual leave during the summer but everyone will be here at some stage and for some of the time. If you are in the building when one of these activities is planned, take the time out to connect with others, improve your team working potential in your organisation – even if you have been to one session, keep going and attend the next! J

Some initial iIdeas for a ten week schedule:

Week 1:

  1. Icebreaker: toilet paper exercise. Quick simple easy icebreaker/energizer requiring only a group and a roll of toilet paper. See the Toilet Paper Icebreaker Exercise on teambuilding games page 2 (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. Treasure hunt with QR codes and iPads with riddles to solve at each spot. Practise your navigational 8 figure grid referencing skills too! Thanks to Drew Thomson on Twitter @mrthomson for the original idea – Drew is head of science and physics teacher at a secondary school in Fife, Scotland.
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 2:

  1. Outdoor icebreaker: the “this pebble is…” exercise (creativity, relaxation, re-energizing, fun, self-expression). This is a quick simple activity for small groups, or for larger groups if split into self-facilitating teams. The underlying ‘skill’ purpose of the activity is to demonstrate and promote creativity. Instruction to group – Take a break outside in the fresh air for five minutes. Stretch your legs. While you are outside find a pebble or small stone and think of a story or meaning for it. As wild or zany or radical or simple or complex story/meaning as you wish (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. Review: Ask people to (briefly) tell their stories/meanings about their pebbles/stones to the group. (There are no right or wrong answers – enjoy and marvel at what people can invent. And see how some people can quickly become very attached to a pebble… because it now has a meaning for them – they created the story/meaning – the ownership of something you create yourself is often a very powerful effect.) Optionally discuss how this activity is different to typical work tasks. (It’s utterly creative – you are making something completely new and being 100% proactive, rather than processing something and being mostly reactive, as in typical work tasks). Creativity inevitably entails self-expression – this can make it hugely empowering and fun, even for serious work situations – did we see examples of self-expression in the stories and meanings that people created for their pebbles? Creativity is extremely valuable in problem-solving, and using personal initiative, together with all aspects of organizational/people/business development. Creativity is a huge component of leadership. It enables leaders to innovate, pioneer, envision, solve challenges, make decisions, reconcile competing things, achieve cooperations, inspire, communicate, etc, etc. It’s a capability that we can all improve (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  3. Main Activity: Reaching out! Build a bridge out of flip chart paper in the amphitheatre outside North Block. Bridges will be judged on technical quality, time taken to complete, and how well people exchanged ideas to make the end product work (thanks to Suzy Wilkinson for this idea).
  4. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 3:

  1. Icebreaker: lifestyle acronyms game (language and communications, generational issues, demographics, creativity, teamwork). A fun exercise which relates to several juicy modern topics. Adaptable as a quick icebreaker. See the lifestyle acronyms game on teambuilding games page 2 (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. “Don’t eat me!” The river crossing boat puzzle (chicken, fox, bag of corn and a man). In teams, take on the role of the chicken etc, and plan your journey across the river (imaginary one on the sports field) in your boat. Design a boat too if you like 😉 (thanks to Suzy Wilkinson for this idea).
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 4:

  1. Icebreaker: guessing game exercises (ice-breaker, assumptions, guesswork/judgment risks, multiple intelligences, natural strengths, ‘wisdom of crowds’). An interesting and very adaptable exercise for exploring the concept of guessing and intuitive judgment. See the Guessing Game on teambuilding games page 2 (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. Picture This! Draw a basic picture, then sit back to back, paper and pencil in hand, describe the basic shapes of the picture and the other person has to draw it and see how close they get to the original picture. See how your communication and descriptive abilities improve each time as you keep moving on to a new drawing partner. Do this exercise with as many people as possible in the time you have (thanks to Adam Godber for this idea).
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 5:

  1. The Great Escape – Sheffield – or something and somewhere similar, subject to management approval and budget of course. See thegreatescapegame.co.uk for more info (thanks to Harriet Cliff at Capita Education FE resourcing for this idea).
  2. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 6:

  1. Icebreaker: ‘how to tie a shoelace’ instructions exercise (warm-up, process design, how to write clear instructions, empathy, etc). A quick simple flexible exercise for any group, to encourage thinking and development of skills for communicating instructions and information to others. See the ‘how to tie a shoelace’ instructions exercise on team building games 2 (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. All tied up! Human knot or the hula hoop one where everyone is in a circle holding hands and you add a hula hoop and you’ve got to get it round the circle back to the start faster than the other groups! Timed activity with a prize (thanks to Debs Beuzeval for this idea).
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 7:

  1. Icebreaker: early bird/second mouse exercise (ice-breaker, creative thinking, presentation skills, debating, analysis, teamworking, group decision dynamics). A simple and flexible activity for small or large groups of all ages, involving several learning elements: strategy, teamwork, presentations, debate, analysis and group dynamics and decision-making. See the Early Bird/Second Mouse Exercise on teambuilding games page 2 (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. Acid River – Team Building- Problem solving – Communication: Four blocks of Wood. You have to cross an imaginary acid river, getting your whole team across, without touching the floor (thanks to Chrissie Vale for this idea).
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 8:

  1. Icebreaker: three describers exercise (icebreaker, introductions, mutual awareness, teambuilding). Teams compete to see how well they know other team members, by attempting to match quick self-penned descriptions to the owners of the characteristics. See the three describers exercise on team building games page 2 (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. Rotation! A problem solving team activity for 8 per group but can have a ninth person as the leader (thanks to Debs Beuzeval for this idea).
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 9:

  1. Icebreaker: truth and lies introductions game. Simple introductions exercise to add some creativity, humour, and group decision-making to courses and other group situations. See the truth and lies icebreaker on teambuilding games page 2 (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. Guided Tour! In teams of 5 create a virtual guided tour of your College (output to be using TEL or some other presentational device). Take the roles of experts or historical figures (thanks for Jason Finley on Twitter @finleyjd for this idea – Jason is a teacher in Vermont, USA).
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Week 10:

  1. Icebreaker: people to introduce themselves individually, in turn, as a kitchen gadget (or kitchen-drawer item) which represents their own personality and strengths. Guide participants to naming their chosen gadget/item and then offering (no more than three) brief points as to their (the gadget’s/item’s) main purpose, strengths, characteristics, etc., which should be a representation of him/herself (at work or home or in life generally, which may be determined by the facilitator depending on wider aims) (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  2. Main activity: ‘life dreams negotiating’ game (motivation, personality differences, empathy, negotiating, debating, arguing a case, mutual awareness). This flexible easy-to-run activity is ideally for groups/teams of about eight people, or you can easily adapt the exercise for different group numbers. The exercise can be run with a group as small as four. The activity purpose is: to explore life priorities, aims, needs, dreams, etc., (depending on the overall purpose of the meeting); to enable discovery, sharing, and evaluation of personal wishes/needs, and other people’s wishes/needs; to consider personal value systems alongside other people’s value systems; and to negotiate and agree compromises for collective values/wishes/needs, etc. Duration guide – 30 minutes for 8 people. The facilitator can control this activity easily by stipulating times allowed for each stage, by which people have to make their decisions. There is no particular penalty for failing to reach agreement by the time allowed – the sense of wanting to achieve agreement is typically sufficient incentive (beside which, without agreement participants are effectively unable to progress to the next stage). Preparation – Hardly anything is required – as a minimum you need just some blank cards, or stiff paper, postcard size or a bit bigger, and pens/pencils. Sufficient for each delegate to have 5-6 cards to write/draw on. Alternatively and additionally, to add an extra dimension and stimulate more senses, you can compile a big ‘box of bits and pieces’ to represent very symbolically the things that people consider important in life (for example a lemon or potato could represents food or nature, a car key could represent cars or transport or mobility, and a house key could represent security or a home – people may attach/explain their own meanings to symbolic bits and pieces, and/or to hand-drawn images or words). The activity requires each delegate to choose three things that they consider most important in their lives, and then afterwards to discuss and negotiate with another person to agree a revised set of three things that satisfies their life-needs/wishes of the two people as a pairing. Each pairing then repeats the process with another pairing, to agree a four-person set of three things. And then the whole group (say of eight people) must discuss and agree a set of three things, which satisfies the entire group. If you have a group of ten then you can ask people to work in threes alongside pairs. A group of nine could be split into 3 x 3, and then brought together as a whole. It’s flexible provided you follow a basic joining together pattern in one or two steps, culminating in a whole group discussion/agreement. Each ‘thing’ is represented by a card (postcard size or a bit bigger) carrying word or drawing, or by a physical item. The exercise begins by people creating these cards – initially their individually chosen three things – or by selecting and attaching a meaning to three ‘bits and pieces’ from the box. Review: Explore issues and feelings arising during and after the activity, for example: Ease/difficulty of selecting three things; Ease/difficulty in agreeing compromises and understanding other people’s selections; How our feelings towards different things might have altered during the exercise; Levels of cooperation and competitiveness experienced, witnessed; What are common priorities/needs? What are immovable needs, if there are any? And lots of other issues which can arise depending on your surrounding purpose, and the nature of the group (source: http://www.businessballs.com/free-team-building-activities.htm ).
  3. Reflective task at the end to assess own team work skills and those of others in the group – set yourself some personal targets and aim to improve next time.

Do you have any thoughts on the activities mentioned above? Can you improve on them, or do you have other ideas? Please share in comments below. Happy teambuilding! Carol