Promoting teamwork in the workplace creates opportunities to improve communication and collaboration skills, as well as forging stronger personal connections, which fosters a welcoming and supportive workplace culture. Plus, teamwork exercises allow your teammates to learn about one another’s strengths, which can be used to work better together as a team on the job.
Opportunities often exist between larger team-building initiatives so you can gather your team and run short, fun exercises to promote the continued development of the above skills. It will be important to clarify to your team why they’re doing the exercise, make it fun, and host a debrief session to wrap up the purpose of the exercise.
You can implement these six exercises for your team, and in the areas where you will see a benefit:
1. Company Concentration – Reinforces Company Culture
Use this classic memory game to teach team members more about your organization and each other. Create cards with facts and photos, like the company’s founding date, individuals’ names/faces, product specifications, etc. There should be two versions of each card. Face the cards down in a grid pattern on a table, and have players flip them up one at a time, flipping them back down after each turn. The goal is to match the duplicate cards by remembering their placement in the grid; in the process, players will also be memorizing the company and teammate facts.
2. Group Timeline – Strengthens Relationships
This interactive activity is a fantastic opportunity to explore the team and company culture by giving people a chance to learn more about the company and others, thus creating a shared sense of history. You will need to create a timeline (either physically or virtually) that extends back a period of history for your team or company. Pin important organizational dates to the timeline, like big product launches and mergers. Then ask everybody to pin up a few important moments in their own lives. Team members will learn more about each other, their generational differences, and their breadth of experience. This is both a fun, cultural exercise and one that promotes collaboration and understanding.
3. Progressive Brainstorming – Improves Communication
If quieter voices on your team are getting lost, progressive brainstorming will be a great opportunity to ensure that everyone on the team is heard, even the more introverted members. Progressive brainstorming means you bring forward a problem and brainstorm solutions for it. Instead of calling out ideas, have the first team member write down their idea for a solution. Pass the paper around the group so that each member adds his or her own new ideas or builds on the existing ones. Everyone gets the chance to participate, promotes different communication styles, and allows you to practically and uniquely solve a problem faced by your team. As a bonus, this can be done virtually with remote teams as well!
4. Shared Journal – Promotes Collaboration and Company Culture
While a shared journal may seem like an odd team-building activity, it’s actually a great, low-pressure opportunity for coworkers to learn more about each other; they can use it to contribute to a team and organizational culture of fun and collaboration. This is how it works. Put a journal and writing supplies in a communal area in your office (such as a lunch room) and open it up to coworkers. This exercise can be easily modified to work virtually for remote teams! The journal can act as a space to write inspirational quotes, paste in event mementos, impart office expertise, share office moments, and more. After a set amount of time, gather your team and debrief the experience: what were the benefits, did you learn anything new, how does this support our culture, and so on.
5. Find the Connections – Reinforce the Importance of Relationships
People who don’t often interact need opportunities for discussion as well as the chance to forge relationships that support better departmental communication and collaboration. This can be done in an easy-to-implement exercise. Divide your team or department into smaller groups; each group can submit at least one thing each member has in common. Finding points of commonality will help your team members to see each other as more than just coworkers, but as human beings not so different from themselves. That can go a long way toward creating a culture of psychological safety in your team. This exercise can also be taken to virtual meeting spaces!
6. Explore Possibilities – Fosters Innovation
For the team that lacks creative, out-of-the-box thinking, which is necessary in a culture of innovation, this exercise can be made truly fun! Take a lunch, buy pizza for the team, and gather random objects from around the office (stapler, chair, fork, and so on). Let your team members brainstorm alternate uses for each one. While the purpose of the exercise may not be explicit to some team members, when you debrief its purpose, your team members will more clearly see the connections to their life on the job.
When people get the chance to tackle challenges with their coworkers in interactive situations outside of their daily tasks, they get to know one another as individuals with their own sets of strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Promoting teamwork in the workplace through collaborative and fun exercises fosters personal connections and strengthens crucial teamwork skills, leading to higher-performing and culturally strong teams.
About the author
Ian has been with Eagle’s Flight since 1997, and is Executive Vice President, Global Accounts. He holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Ian spent 12 years at Nestlé Canada and brings a wide range of experience that includes practical business experience in management, sales, program design, development and mentoring. He works closely with the Global licensees to ensure their success as they represent Eagle’s Flight in the worldwide marketplace. He has developed outstanding communication skills and currently is the Executive in Charge of a large Fortune 500 client with a team of employees dedicated to this specific account. As a result, Ian has been instrumental in driving the company’s growth and strategic direction.