The Beatles were four young men who pooled their unique talents to create something beloved by millions of people worldwide. Not only were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr experts at their respective instruments, they maximized their potential together. Lennon and McCartney took the helm at songwriting, with Lennon contributing a singular artistic vision while McCartney coined memorable tunes. Every member of the band got a chance to be the lead singer. The group set ambitious goals and kept meeting them. They were an example of team building at its finest.
While it’s true The Beatles didn’t stay together forever, the fact that so many people still listen to their music to this day is proof of how great of a team they were. Your team might not be part of the music industry, but there’s much you can learn from successful team building in the way The Beatles did it.
Effective teams are the backbone of any vibrant organization. You could be a small startup with humble beginnings and a grand vision. Or your team members might be part of a multi-billion dollar enterprise looking to change the world. Learning how building team culture results in success, positivity, and personal growth will go a long way toward keeping everyone happy and productive.
Yet, great teams don’t just materialize out of thin air. They require work, careful planning, and a culture of support.
This article will show you how to accelerate your growth with effective team building activities that help your team strengthen over time.
What Makes Effective Teams?
Effective team building starts with the individual team members. Each one understands what role they need to play for the entire team to be successful. Most importantly, the greatest teams have nothing but A-players who understand what the overall vision is. They also show support for the culture you’re trying to build.
A-players want to put forth their best effort at all times. They also only want to work with the best. As Steve Jobs explained, once you have enough of them on your team, they help perpetuate your system. The team adds more A-players until you’re a fine-tuned machine achieving incredible results every day.
Team building means creating a team with the following traits and elements:
- Clear Goals: Leadership on a team needs to have a distinct and specific vision for other team members to follow. Each team member must know what their role is in achieving this vision. Leaders should establish a clear path that the whole team will travel so that each person can measure their progress.
- Clear Communication: It’s one thing to have an ambitious vision. It’s another thing to communicate what that vision is to everyone on the team. The best leaders distill that vision into the hearts of their followers. They motivate and inspire, helping others believe in what they’re doing. Above all, great leaders inspire others to create their own visions that they can follow.
- Dedication to Excellence: Team building means finding people who won’t settle for less. They push themselves to be the best at every opportunity. These team members don’t need a motivational speech every day to excel. They feel a need to deliver excellent results time and time again.
- Accountability: When every team member knows what role they play, they can count on each other without checking in constantly. The best team members hold themselves accountable and won’t accept excuses when things fall short. They work to improve and make sure they are always successful.
- Autonomy: Team building also means identifying those who can work independently without someone hovering over their shoulder. They thrive in an environment that provides them with the freedom to tackle their projects however they see fit. These team members need fewer updates and meetings to get into a steady workflow and produce excellent results.
- Social Capital: In this instance, social capital means a team that always trusts each other to do their jobs. They celebrate the victories and recognize their failures as a unit, always striving to get better. Effective teams grow and mature together.
Accelerating Team Maturity Through Team Building
Just because you have all the best A-players for your team doesn’t mean that you have an effective team right from the start. Great teams don’t just materialize out of nowhere, even with the right personnel. The reality is that teams can sometimes take months or even years to become great. It’s a process that requires patience and belief in the team building strategy.
That doesn’t mean you need to sit back and wait for everything to happen. Leaders can accelerate team growth so they can reach their team building goals more quickly. If you’re looking to increase your growth rate as a team, the following list can be helpful.
- Connections: Great teams feel a connection with each other. These connections go beyond what they do at work. Team building in the workplace often requires searching for these connections and strengthening them.
- Alignment in Goals and Passions: Two A-players can be the most passionate people when it comes to their jobs, but if those passions aren’t aligned with the team’s goals, you’ll see a lot of wasted energy. When goals and passions line up perfectly with each other, teams make significant progress and form tighter bonds.
- Celebration of Diversity: If everyone thinks exactly the same on the team, don’t expect to make much headway. Teams with diverse thinking and backgrounds will have differences of opinion. This helps them tackle problem solving differently, often coming up with more creative solutions in the process. Teams shouldn’t just look for this diversity but celebrate and cultivate it.
- Friendliness: Teams should be comfortable around each other and friendly as they get their work done. Note that being friendly doesn’t mean you have to be the best of friends hanging out every weekend. But you want your team members to be good enough friends to the point where they feel safe around each other. They can express their opinion without judgment and show a more vulnerable side.
Teams need everything above to thrive. As you engage in team building, keep those traits in mind so you have a good idea of what will make future team building activities more effective.
10 Team Building Activities
1. Trivia Games
Team building games come in many shapes and sizes. One of the most common comes in the form of the trivia game. Test your team’s knowledge of various subjects to see who knows the most. Those subjects can be anything from areas directly about the company and its industry to more general knowledge questions.
Trivia games can be most effective when splitting the team into smaller groups. Teammates can combine their knowledge and see how much they know. The more diverse the team, the better since their knowledge base will be larger. Prepare the questions beforehand and keep score as you go. It’s a simple approach but an effective one.
2. Two Truths and a Lie
One way to promote team bonding through team building exercises is with the game Two Truths and a Lie. This is a classic “get to know you” type game where everyone gets a piece of paper and writes down three things about themselves. The catch is that two of the items are true, while one is a lie.
Each new team member, in turn, then presents their three items, and everyone has to guess which one is the lie. This activity not only allows people on the team to get to know each other better, but it helps team members flex their creative muscles. Can you make your lie believable? Can you think of two truths about you outlandish enough to make others believe they are lies? This game can turn into an entertaining exercise.
3. Scavenger Hunt
Most people are familiar with the concept of a scavenger hunt. You get a list of some random everyday items, split people into teams, and have them go off to find the items as quickly as possible. The same idea applies here and can make for some fun moments as people work together to reach a common goal. It’s one of many time management activities that help teams grow closer together.
With remote work now becoming commonplace, a scavenger hunt can be just as effective for virtual teams. Remote team members meet up through a virtual chat platform like Zoom and receive the list of items. They then look for the items from wherever team members are located, usually within their homes. The hunt continues until the time is up and everyone presents their items over video.
4. Circle of Appreciation
The Circle of Appreciation is a team building activity where everyone sits in a circle facing inward. You then go around to each person and have them say one thing they appreciate about the person to their right. Then you go back around and have team members say what they appreciate about the person to their left. Team building exercises like this are a quick way to establish trust in each other and can happen right before meetings.
5. Barter Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles reward patience and attention to detail. This team building activity tests those traits but also throws a unique twist on them. You start by splitting your team into different groups. Each group also receives a jigsaw puzzle they’re supposed to put together. Whoever puts the puzzle together the fastest wins.
The unique element is that each puzzle has several pieces missing, with the other groups having those pieces. The only way a team can get those missing pieces is through negotiation and bartering. That might include trading pieces, but negotiations are wide open, so almost anything goes.
The game gets people to work together, not just as a team but as competitors. It’s a great activity for small and large groups. The activity also works for building up leadership teams.
6. Role-Playing Games
No, this category doesn’t include getting everyone together for a game of Dungeons & Dragons (though who’s to stop you if your team is willing?). Role-playing games in this light mean everyone taking on different roles related to the business and simulating instances they’re likely to encounter.
An example of this is trying to gain a prospective client. One team member takes on the role of the client, while another becomes the company representative. Both play their roles as the representative tries to get the client’s business. Other team members observe and see what could improve.
This is one of those team building activities for work that can utilize the entire group. It gives everyone a chance to problem solve and come up with creative conditions and solutions.
7. Escape Rooms
An escape room could mean a considerable extra cost, but the fun and benefits are worth it. Escape rooms have popped up seemingly everywhere these days, and they provide an immersive game experience that tests a team’s problem solving and cooperation skills.
If you’ve never been in an escape room, each one follows a theme and presents numerous puzzles through subtle clues found throughout the environment. Since there’s a time limit, teams have to work together to get out while up against the clock. If they can handle the stress and pressure while keeping their heads clear, they should manage just fine. They’ll come out of it a stronger team.
Great teams bounce ideas off of each other and even argue respectfully about what solution works the best. You can turn this into a team building activity by having a formal debate. Divide your team into two groups, and have them take opposing sides in a debate. Each group does their research and selects a representative for the official debate.
You can take turns asking questions for each side, getting them to present their viewpoint and see if it holds up to scrutiny. These debates should be lighthearted and work well when team members already know each other. Depending on the issue, you can even have several rounds, with each side regrouping until preparing a final statement.
9. Shark Tank
This activity has you dividing the team into two once again, only this time, one side acts as the Shark Tank, while another acts as the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur side presents a unique sales pitch for a product that can solve an everyday problem. Like in the show, the Shark Tank reps can then ask questions and even offer an investment if they like it.
The Shark Tank activity gives teams the chance to be creative. The pitches should include everything from the brand name of the product, to the slogan, and even a marketing plan. The more detailed, the better the experience will be.
10. Community Service Projects
While so many team building events involve games and activities, community service shows team building at its finest. Look for opportunities to give back to your community. You might volunteer at a homeless shelter or spend the afternoon picking up litter in the local city park. No matter what you do, you’re working to make your community a better place.
Team members will learn the importance of selfless acts as part of this team building exercise. It’s the perfect chance to grow as a team and remind yourself of what really matters. Community service projects also let you show your core values to everyone else.
Knowing the WHY of Team Building Activities
Team building in the workplace has gotten a bad reputation of late. Many people see them as lame attempts to get people to work together. They picture trust falls or awkward moments where people feel uncomfortable. Team building attempts can certainly end up like that, but only if you plan them poorly. People tend to see through any poorly implemented activity, so doing it the correct way should be a priority.
Once you understand why team building activities have merits, you can make them more effective and enjoyable. Use the above list to create a memorable activity that serves a greater purpose. Just remember the main reasons why you’re asking your team to grow stronger together.
Want to learn more about creating strong teams? Read the following articles.
9 Team Leadership Skills That Get Results
Teamwork Quotes to Motivate and Inspire Collaboration