Teams that work well together are more productive, more effective, and ultimately, provide higher quality results in relatively less amount of time.
In project management, effective teamwork is one of the most important (and also hardest) tasks to accomplish. Team building activities are a both fun and intelligent way to establish close relationships between team members, escape the daily routine for a little while, and get more comfortable with working together every day.
Team games also help boost morale, productivity and confidence, learn more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and break the ice. As PMs are very busy people, we have gathered together a collection of games you can play with your team that don’t require much preparation, time or other resources, but are no less entertaining and effective.
Team Building Game #1
Name: Truth and lies
Duration: 20 minutes
Number of players: as many as you like
Materials: paper and pen
Have each team member write down three statements about themselves – two truths and one lie – on a piece of paper. Nobody must see the paper of another team member at any given time! The idea is to convince others that the lie is truth and simultaneously, try to find the false statement of the other guys. Once it’s all written down, team members take around 10 minutes to talk to each other and convince as many people as they can that their lies are truth.
After 10 minutes are over, everybody gathers in a circle and the voting begins. Each player needs to read his or her three statements out loud and then wait for the group to vote which one is a lie. Each player gets a point when they find a lie or stump another person with his or her lie. Repeat until you have a winner.
Result: This game is a very good ice breaker, encourages communication between team members and helps everyone to get to know each other and get comfortable in the workplace.
Team Building Game #2
Name: Blindfolded escort
Type: Communication/trust building
Duration: 10 minutes
Number of players: at least 4
Materials: a blindfold, office furniture/equipment
The idea of the game is very simple and, at the same time, very exciting – escort your blind partner successfully to a destination before the other team does.
The four players must spread into groups of two and start at opposite parts of a given room. Next, one of each of the team members puts on a blindfold, while the rest of the team makes a complete mess in the room by moving furniture around in the most bizarre way to make it as hard as possible to cross it.
The sighted team members need to verbally escort their blindfolded team members to the end of the room, after which they swap roles and do the same thing again. The team that accomplishes the feat first, wins. You can also go as far as hosting a competition within your whole team and giving a small prize to the winning team.
Result: This game will help create great communication between team members as well as build trust among each other.
Team Building Game #3
Type: Problem solving
Duration: 30 minutes
Number of players: 15 or 30
Materials: A book by Istvan Banyai called Zoom
“Zoom” is a wordless book made of pictures, which, when put together, form a narrative. The idea is to give each player a piece of the book (or give each player two pieces if you don’t have enough players), give them time to study it and them communicate with team members to ultimately construct the narrative in the right order, without looking at other’s pieces. The players can talk to each other, describe their pictures and basically do anything they want, with the exception of looking at the pictures of others.
Result: Good problem solving skills and the ability to communicate with each other to achieve the end result while working together. This game will also help bring forth leadership skills in your team members, which is good to know for every PM.
Team Building Game #4
Name: Office Trivia Time
Type: Team bonding
Duration: less than 30 minutes, once a week
Number of players: everybody, divided into groups of 3-4
Materials: paper and pens, ledger for keeping score
Everybody likes trivia. Let your staff have fun while bonding with each other during a weekly round of trivia, testing their knowledge of your company while working together.
Each trivia session should not take too long, but be played on a weekly basis. Your staff will test their knowledge of any and everything office related. First, you need to prepare trivial questions. How many you prepare is up to you, but start off with at least five for the first game. If you want enough questions for an entire month, prepare 20.
The best way to build cohesive team camaraderie is to diversify the trivia teams. Divide your employees into groups of coworkers that you have noticed don’t already hang out together during downtime.
For question ideas, try things like “how many years has our company been in this office?” or “who was our first client?” Maybe a question about the brand of pens your office prefers or which month X employee’s birthday is in. Easy stuff that pertains to your company and/or office setting.
At the end of each game, keep score of which team got the most questions right. Award the winning team with a small gift at the end of the month, maybe a gift certificate to a local restaurant or something similar.
Tips: make sure to include one or two silly questions each week to keep the game fun. Also, depending on your number of employees and office dynamic, you can play on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.
Above all else, have fun!
Turning an ordinary group of people into a team is a task, but the more fun everyone has, the less it will seem like a chore. Nobody should ever be muttering to themselves “geez, here’s another one of those ‘team building’ sessions, what a bore.” For a busy project manager, each of these four activities can be completed in just 30 minutes or less, but the payoff for your team’s success will be priceless. Remember: effective workplace communication pays big.
Also, don’t limit yourself just to these four games. Use these first, but then feel free to make up your own, or ask your staff for suggestions.