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  • Barbara Martinez

The Importance of Team Building Activities in the Workplace: 5 Unique Team Building Exercises

Team building is a process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. It is an ongoing process that allows for the team to grow together and make long-lasting bonds. The team members share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, building trust, and supporting one another.

Think about it, on an average day, we spend more time with coworkers than with our families. Many co-workers develop friendships that last for years, experiencing life’s most important milestones such as weddings, babies, and graduations. Typically, this bond represents years of working side by side with someone as well as from respect for one another's individual differences.

Although team-building activities are a fun way of building and nurturing relationships, they also provide an added benefit to employees and organizations as a whole. While building a cohesive unit and improving employee morale, you can also identify skills and strengths of employees that otherwise may have been overlooked in a traditional work setting. You can also identify those who learns better in a cooperative setting versus working individually or vice versa.

4 C’s of Team Building

Clarity - Clarify the team’s vision. This can be the company’s mission or for a specific event. If you have not established a mission or vision, allow the employees to come together and develop one.

Commitment- The most important way of communicating commitment is by demonstrating it yourself. Let the team know why your company, mission, or event is important to you and to the team as a whole.

Contribution - Determine the strengths and weaknesses that each individual team member brings to the group. Don’t be afraid to open up about what specific skills you also bring to the team. Allow team members to explore their skills and develop them whenever possible.

Concerns - Allow team members to voice concerns or comments and to ask questions. The freedom to speak openly without fear of repercussions is another technique for team building.

When planning a team-building event you must first determine your goal or your mission for the event. You need to identify what type of team-building technique you want to emphasize. There are varying types of team-building techniques and by determining your mission for the event, you and your employees will be better prepared to effectively participate. For example, is your focus problem-solving? This is where a team gathers to design, review, create, or implement a plan to solve a specific problem that has been proposed. In this type of event, most scenarios proposed are imaginary such as building a bridge to bring people from 2 islands together. Another technique focuses on skill building. This allows the team to facilitate the development of one or several skills that unite a team to a set outcome, for example, communication skills. There are also those events that solely focus on the employees spending time together in a fun, non-work environment. Some fun team-building activities include: scavenger hunts, High Ropes courses, and games involving physical exertion.


There are companies that specialize in providing amazing team-building experiences. But if you’re just starting out or want to try something on your own, here are some samples of activities you can implement.

Draw the picture

This is a fun activity to emphasize the importance of communication and how poorly we usually are at this. Provide everyone with index cards, one for each design. Provide the team with a stack of cards that have simple, random designs on them. One person takes a turn looking at the design and describing it to their teammates. Once the person has “communicated” their design, they flip their card around so everyone can see what it is. At this time they can ascertain each person’s level of verbal communication as well as receptive skills.

Examples of designs for your index cards. The “working designs” can be computerized or drawn by hand.

Two Truths and a Lie

This is a fun exercise that can be done as part of orientation if you have more than 2 people. It is an activity that allows team members to get to know each other on a more personal level. Each person has a turn to reveal things about themselves, verbalizing 2 truths and a lie. The other members try to determine what the lie is. Allow for any discussion which may arise during each person’s turn.

The Marshmallow Challenge

Make groups of 4 members each. Give each group 20 sticks of spaghetti, one marshmallow, plus one yard of string and tape. Using the materials provided, each team has to create the tallest, freestanding structure possible. Team members are pushed to work together, problem-solve, and be creative in order to ensure their structure is the tallest.

Human Knot

Gather your team in a circle, with team members joining right and left hands with a person opposite them. Teammates cannot hold hands with someone next to them. When all the members have their hands in a knot, the game requires this knot to be untangled without releasing their hands. It requires a great deal of communication and physical closeness to be successful. Once teammates are in a perfect circle with hands joined, the challenge is complete.

Salt and Pepper

This game is played in pairs. Each group is labeled as a pair, i.e. peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, salt and pepper, water and oil, etc. Every group member will have a name taped to his back. Each player will ask 5 yes or no questions to identify what is written on their backs. The goal is to find your other half.

In today’s era of utilizing the internet to find information, you can discover a wide variety of activities and games. Explore them and determine which will be most suitable for your group and your time frame. Some of these activities can be done at work during a fun lunch break. You can also designate 1 day a month as a fun day, with afternoon or lunch activities to boost morale and bring your group together. You can even have employees volunteer to research and set up the activities. Explore and have fun, after all, you are the leader of the team and you can lead by example.


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