Organizations recognize that people learn in different ways, and experiencing something is usually far more effective than listening to a lecture or reading a book. This is the rationale for team-building exercises and activities.
Choosing the right activity is tricky. You don’t want to do the same old, same old (golf outing), offer up a cliché (trust falls), or have your team laughing at you behind your back (group visualizations of swimming with dolphins).
For this comprehensive listing of about 60 team-building activities and exercises, more than 20 experts contributed their favorites. Match your objective with the right team-building activity by using our finder tool to identify exercises based on goal, time available, group size, and more. The finder tool also identifies activities that work well for remote teams, have a “wow factor,” are inexpensive, quick, get teams outdoors, or require minimal setup.
Team-Building Exercises and Activities
“Team building” can be achieved through many different types of exercises - some focus on breaking down biases and judgments, others require collective problem solving, and some are simply concerned with having fun. Below you’ll find about 60 games, activities, and exercises to help promote teamwork in the following categories:
- Team Activities that Encourage Bonding: You’ve heard that expression about how coordinating some groups of people can be like “herding cats.” Well, that’s not what you want for a team executing work that is essential to your business. Getting the most from team members requires that they feel strongly connected to each other and their mission, follow directions, trust one another, and have confidence in their leadership. This is where bonding exercises play a significant role.
- Icebreakers: These warm-up activities help participants get to know each other better and build camaraderie. Use icebreakers at the start of a longer team-building program; because they often involve sharing personal information, they’re especially useful when bringing people together who don’t typically work side by side.
- Activities to Develop Communication Skills: Communication is one of the most common weak spots for teams, and poor communication can give rise to misunderstandings, wasted work, and even internal sabotage. Communication activities often involve building trust, honesty, and clarity, as well as breaking down silos.
- Activities that Push the Team’s Comfort Zone: Sometimes you might want to get your team out of the office and do something that doesn’t have anything to do with the workplace. These activities push people out of their comfort zone to try something new.
- Exercises to Help the Team Show Appreciation: Studies have shown that employees who feel appreciated have much higher motivation and commitment to their work. Creating that feeling requires intentional effort, and sometimes managers need help to feel comfortable extending praise. Activities that focus on these skills can build appreciation into your culture.
- Activities that Develop Team Values: These activities can help your team learn more about how they work together and what they value as individuals. When people have a better understanding of what their coworkers value, they have a point of reference for why they might be behaving a certain way. This knowledge can foster a more harmonious workplace during times of transition and when disagreements arise.
- Exercises that Build Teamwork: Getting a team to work together can be difficult and requires a range of skills, from learning to work with challenging personalities to forging a sense of common purpose. Teamwork activities help participants identify ways they can individually contribute to or hinder the success of the organization and facilitate working through barriers to cooperation with others.
- Activities to Increase Teams’ Problem-Solving Skills: When teams are having issues in the office, the root of the problem can often be found in poor communication. These problem-solving activities focus on improving communication and working together to solve a common goal. Developing these skills in a fun environment can help improve communication in the workplace.
- For Teams that Just Need to Have Some Fun: It’s no secret that organizations are asking more of their employees than ever before. Today’s business climate is demanding, but your team can’t work in the red zone all the time. You need to build in some fun to enable employees to recharge, maximize creativity, and feel passion for their work.
- Activities to Build Leadership Skills: While many team-building activities have areas where leaders can naturally emerge, this exercise specifically targets improving leadership skills.