November 15, 2016
Having an effective and productive startup team is important. But having a happy team makes work easier and more enjoyable for everyone. But with so many varying skills, contrasting personalities, and different responsibilities, how can you make your team more cohesive?
One tried-and-true method is having them participate in team building exercises. Unfortunately, these team building activities typically yield more eye rolls than participation. Fortunately, these five examples of exercises can unify your employees in just a few hours.
Writing Down Expectations
This is a simple team building exercise in which a facilitator hands out blank cards and asks each member to list his or her expectations on the card. Collect the cards and place the responses onto either a chalkboard or whiteboard and open it up for a team discussion.
By focusing on the ideas rather than who submitted them, you can create an enthusiastic discussion that yields positive results for everyone.
The Great Egg Drop
This exercise can last up to two hours and can make the workplace a little messy, but it’s a classic problem-solving and collaboration exercise. Start by dividing your team into two or more groups and assign the task of constructing an egg package that is able to sustain an eight-foot drop. Of course, you’ll have to provide your team with the proper tools and materials. The Egg Drop Project has a useful list of materials and the process to complete the task.
Once they build the packages, have each team create 30-second ads for whatever they used. After the presentations, have the groups drop their eggs to see whether the packages worked or not.
This exercise is fun and will teach your team a lot about working together in creative ways. The ads are a concrete example that encourage collaboration, while the egg drop offers an exciting challenge and competitive component.
Not all team-building exercises have to be games. Sometimes, you can bring your team together by working in the community. By giving each employee two or three work days each year to go donate their time to a charitable cause, you can encourage team members to go in groups and help out together.
Employees will take the opportunity to mentor at nearby schools, build houses for veterans, and volunteer at homeless shelters to provide meals and job training.
Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower
In this exercise, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure with 20 pieces of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow in just 18 minutes. Make sure to leave ample time to discuss the exercise and strategy and ask follow-up questions.
Remember the marshmallows are for the task, not for eating, although a few extras probably couldn't hurt team morale.
Beach Ball Toss
For this activity, all you need is a beach ball. Write random questions on the ball in advance, taking suggestions from the team. They should be a blend of easy to more complex questions that range from, “What’s your favorite food?” to “What are your weekly goals?” to “What’s the most adventuresome thing you’ve ever done?”
Have your team stand in a circle and toss the ball around. Whoever catches the ball must answer any the question that is closest to their pinky finger. This exercise builds collaboration by helping your team get to know more about each other.
Changing Mindsets and Deepening Collaboration
You don’t have to stay sedentary or indoors to grow as a team. You can turn music on and have everyone line up and while one or two people come forward and show their best dance move for 15 seconds. Other ideas include getting tickets and going together to a local team sporting event, playing kickball, having a bowling night, planning a bring-your-family picnic every summer, and setting up a regular happy hour.
These exercises will change the mindset of your teams, bring out creativity, smooth out any rifts that have developed, and unite everyone together as a group.
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