IN AN IDEAL WORLD, your team works just like that: a team. In the real world, your team may need to work on how they work together. For many businesses, conducting team-building exercises is one way to develop a more cohesive group. Experts at Dale Carnegie Training of St. Louis suggest the following (once current social distancing guidelines are lifted) as impactful activities to bring a team closer, build on individual strengths, and improve problem solving:
Getting to Know You: Soccer Ball Toss
Billie Bright, certified master trainer, has groups toss a soccer ball as a “get to know you” exercise. Using a permanent marker, she numbers the white blocks of the ball from one to 20; for each number, there is a corresponding question. Participants must answer the question based on the number closest to their left thumb when they catch the ball. Questions might include: If you could have dinner with anyone on the planet, who would that be?
“This can be used for all types of prepared questions and gets everyone involved,” she says.
Individual Recognition: Strength-Centered Comments
This activity is designed to give recognition to team members based on their strengths. “For us, recognition and appreciation is one great way to really start building those team bonds by focusing on the strengths within those teams,” says Dale Carnegie Training of St. Louis President Elizabeth Haberberger.
Small groups of five or six sit in a circle and share with each other what they believe to be their colleagues’ strong points. For example: I’m saying that you’ve got guts because you stood up in that meeting last week and contradicted what everyone else was saying, leading us to a better solution.
“What [this example] means is if everyone can stand up in a meeting, we’re really going to have a much more innovative environment,” explains Jacqueline Wilson, vice president of engagement. “It’s really about giving recognition that is felt and has an impact on the people around us.”
Problem Solving: The Tarp
For this exercise, Bright uses an 8- x 10-foot tarp for a group of 10 to 12 people. Participants are directed to stand anywhere on the tarp. The goal is for the team to flip the tarp over so that all the participants end up standing on the other side—without anyone getting off or any body parts touching the floor.
“The debrief then is all about: ‘Did somebody take a leadership role? How were you successful? What was our common purpose? Well, our common purpose was to flip this tarp over so we’d be standing on the opposite side,’” Bright explains.
Then, she says, ask, “‘What, then, are our common purposes as a team?’ Because when we have a common purpose and we know what our role is––and what the significance of our role is––that’s going to help the team be more successful.”