Activities for Getting to Know Your Team Better

Collaboration between members of your team can mean the difference between a good team and a great team. Even if every member of your team is producing at peak capacity (and let’s face it, they’re not), the team as a whole could still be more effective if they work better together. Managing a team, especially a team of creatives, can be equated to herding cats. They’re all great, but they’re also doing their own thing. What can you, as the manager, do to encourage and enhance the collaboration and communication of your team?

One option is to facilitate team-building games that require your people to interact in new and innovative ways. To make this work, you have to ensure that everyone feels safe but not necessarily comfortable.  The more outgoing and social people on your team will likely love these. The more introverted and reserved people may take longer to warm up to the idea. That’s the point, though. You need to get these folks talking and communicating to be more effective.

Here are some games that you can integrate into your next staff meeting to get your team to collaborate better:

10 Things in Common

This works well for teams of 20-40. Number everyone off into groups of 4-5. If you let them make their own groups, they will stick with the people that they already know and that defeats the purpose. Have each group spend 10 minutes coming up with 10 things that they all have in common that are not work related.

Body parts are off limits (we all generally have the same parts). i.e.: two arms, two legs, etc.

One person in each group takes notes. A different person will read the notes to the rest of the room.

Don’t rush through the process of reading the lists. Encourage additional dialog and discussion-even if it veers down a rabbit trail. Remember—the goal is to get your team talking. The game is just the catalyst. The additional discussion is what it’s really all about.

Scavenger Hunt

Divide your team into two groups. Make sure the teams are balanced for outgoing versus reserved personality types. Give them each a list of items to find and bring back to the meeting room. The list can be items only found in the building or they can be items found off site. You know your team, so make it something that they will partake in-even if reluctantly. The goal is to be the first team back with all of the items. It’s a good idea to set a time limit so no one takes advantage and skips out for the rest of the day.

Telephone

You probably played this game when you were a kid. It’s easy, start by telling the first person a short story about going to the beach or something similar. Give a few details that make it interesting. That person will then relay the story to the next person in line and then the next. This continues all around the room until the final person recites the story for everyone to hear.

The final story is never the same as the first one, and it’s interesting to hear how it changes. You usually end up with a bunch of people laughing and talking about how they were trying to remember a certain point, but couldn’t, so they made something up.

This activity doesn’t necessarily teach you anything specific about your team members, but it does get them talking and breaks the ice between them.

Human Bingo

This one takes some work on your part before the meeting. Ask each team member to tell you something surprising or unusual about them that can be shared with the group. Make notes and put all of these traits on a grid. Give everyone a copy of the grid and ten minutes to move around and talk to the others in the room to see who fits each category.

A couple of rules to make it more interesting:

1.       You can’t voluntarily give up your trait. The other person has to ask questions to get to the answer. This causes a lot more dialog and gives many more opportunities to find common ground.

2.       You can only use a person’s name once. Three or four traits may be applicable, but you have to get to the exact one that was given to the facilitator beforehand.

3.       Once you talk to someone, you can’t talk to them again for at least three minutes. This will keep everyone moving and will help reduce grouping up with friends.

Back-to-back Drawing

Pair your team up, and have each pair sit with their backs to each other. Give one person in each team a card with a shape on it. They will then have to describe the shape to the other person without naming the shape. The other person has to draw what is described to them.

Start with simple shapes and move towards more complex ones. This exercise not only gets people talking, it also emphasizes the role of good communication in an effective team.

Summary

Many people are reluctant to engage in any of these types of activities. It’s ok for them to be reluctant, but it’s not ok for them to deride and ridicule your attempts at team-building.  If you have trouble with getting any of your team members to to participate, address it in your next One-on-One meeting.  To get more info on how to do these O3’s, click here.