Team Building Activities: 25 Exercises to Create an Unstoppable Team

Team Building Activities: 25 Exercises to Create an Unstoppable Team

We’ve all been there.

The dreaded moment when we are invited to play a team building game.

Why dreaded? Well, because more often than not, such exercises feel forced and awkward (even if the organizer is super enthusiastic).

Fortunately, there’s a right way to engage in team building activities that will forge an unstoppable crew. This involves ditching the ‘between-the-leg balloon passes’ and rethinking established methods.

In this beginner’s guide to team building, I will cover:

  • What is team building?
  • Why is team building important?
  • 10 benefits of team building
  • How to get started
  • 25 effective team building activities

Got your game face on? Let’s play.

What is Team Building?

Team building is an ongoing process that influences groups to evolve into a more cohesive unit.

Team Building Exercises

Team-building exercises consist of games and activities that stimulate people to work together more efficiently and effectively. Team building activities promote the acceptance of individual differences while creating a bond that can lead to an unstoppable team.

Team building programs also involve experiential learning exercises where people learn valuable soft skills such as leadership, collaboration, communication and problem-solving.

Why is Team Building Important?

Has your team ever struggled to work well together? Are there differences and conflict between departments? Do you have bottlenecks that arise from lack of collaboration and seamless coordination at work?

Without a team that bonds well and is willing to work efficiently towards a common goal, managers can end up wasting a ton of time resolving internal conflicts and irrelevant ego clashes. This can be detrimental to project deadlines and also derail business growth.

This is where the power of team building comes into play.

Team bonding is crucial to establishing trust, mutual respect, and understanding between its members. Strong teams don’t have divisive problems.

For large corporate teams where there is constant interplay between various departments and functions, it is important to utilize corporate team-building strategies.

The interrelatedness of ideas and goals can get lost in large groups. It’s hard to get 100 plus people on the same page, and even harder to get those very people to take coordinated action towards common company goals.

This is why team-building experiences are essential to creating an atmosphere of camaraderie and connection within teams of all sizes.

There’s more to being a successful team than team building, but it’s a great start!

10 Benefits of Team Building

Here are 10 top benefits that you can reap through team-building activities:

  1. Communicate a shared vision throughout the team.
  2. Build a more effective and enjoyable company culture.
  3. Bridge the gap between different departments.
  4. Rid teams of dysfunctional behavior through bonding, teamwork, and communication.
  5. Improve collaborative decision making.
  6. Nurture trust, familiarity, and understanding.
  7. Lead to faster growth within new teams or teams with new employees.
  8. Enhance communication skills, collaboration, creativity, ideas, and problem-solving skills.
  9. Promote healthy company pride, playful competition, and motivation.
  10. Make employees feel valued.

Now that you are familiar with the benefits of team building activities, how should you initiate team-building games without causing any awkward moments?

The last thing you want to do is make your people dread team bonding, right?

Whether you are a corporate team, a semi-remote team, or a fully virtual team, there are team building exercises and bonding ideas for all types of groups in this beginner’s guide.

So, let’s get the ball rolling on some fun team building activities that your employees would love to play.

The best part?

No special skills needed.

How to Get Started

Before I reveal the 25 exercises that can enable you to create an unstoppable team, here are two crucial steps you need to keep in mind.

Step 1: Analysis

Before choosing team building activities, first, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your team, as well as your own. This is crucial when trying to boost team performance.

Is collaboration lacking? Do your employees struggle with trust?

Once you determine which areas need improvement, you will be in a better position to organize your team bonding activities.

If you skip this step, you run the risk of initiating a team building session that your employees find useless or perhaps even silly.

Step 2: Budgeting – Time and Money

Any worthwhile team bonding experience needs time and money. While there are short team building activities that can be integrated into regular  team meetings, most team building exercises require that you set aside a few hours (or days).

Struggling to find enough time? Check out these 10 time management tips.

Moreover, if you decide to take your employees for an offsite or hire a professional corporate trainer, it would cost you a decent amount.

Therefore, it is essential to budget your time and money before initiating any team bonding session.

Once you have the budget in mind, handpick the team building games you want to use, gather all the materials needed and set aside sufficient time to complete the team building activities.

25 Effective Team Building Exercises

In this section, there are 5 icebreaker games for new teams in which members are just getting to know each other.

Once your team is ready to jump out of their comfort zone, I have provided step-by-step directions for 20 team-building exercises that are exciting, insightful and fun.

This list contains both outdoor and indoor team building activities to get your people energized and engaged.

While some of these team building games may work best for smaller teams, most of these ideas are suitable for large groups as well as small groups.

Some of the ClickUp favorites include Escape Games too! Check out how these help with team building!

About Group Size

Every game below includes a ‘group size.’ This does not refer to the total number of people participating in a team building session. If you have a large group, you can break up that group into smaller ones. For example, if you have 20 people, you can break up this larger group into 5 smaller groups.

All these smaller groups can participate in a team building game simultaneously. That’s how all corporate training programs are organized.

5 Icebreaker Games

Icebreakers are short games that help people get to know each other in an informal setting. They build that initial rapport that’s essential to set the stage for a more involved team session.

 

1. Two Truths and a Lie

Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Build affinity

In this ice breaker session, let each person tell two truths and one fabricated statement about themselves in a random sequence. Then ask other team members to figure out which are the truths and what’s the lie. The speaker can then reveal which fact is indeed false.

 

2. What’s My Name

Time: 15 – 20 minutes

Group size: <20

Objective: Build rapport

Get your team to sit in a circle and take turns saying their names. Next, throw in a tennis ball to one person. They must toss the ball to another teammate while saying his or her name.

To ramp up the challenge, create a rule that members can’t throw the ball to the same person twice in a row.

 

3. Building a Storyline

Time: 30 minutes

Group size: Varies

Objective: Listening, Collaboration, Teamwork

For this icebreaker team building activity, arrange participants in a circle. One team member starts narrating a story but stops with an incomplete sentence such as, “John was excited. On his first day as a professional artist, he wanted to …” The next person finishes the sentence and adds another incomplete sentence.

For example, “Marshall experienced a spark of creativity and decided to …” This continues until the last member in the circle is reached and an entirely coherent story has been formed.

This experience ensures that all people listen to one another and remain engaged in the activity, leading to better collaboration and improved listening skills. You’ll quickly discover that listening is crucial to business growth!

For more challenge and extra creative thinking, throw in random words that people must include in the story.

 

4. Form the Order

Time: 20 minutes

Group size: <20

Objective: Communication, Collaboration

Instruct members to line themselves up based on certain criteria such as age, height, birthday, or shoe size.

The challenge? All teamwork and communication needed to organize themselves in that particular order must be conducted through non-verbal communication.

As people move around the room to complete the task, you will see the emergence of natural leaders and innovative means of communication.

 

5. Show and Tell

Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Group size: 10 – 15

Objective: Build trust

This icebreaker works great even for remote teams. Ask every team member to share something they love that is personal and important to them with the rest of the team. It could be a hobby, an award, even their pet.

Give each team member one minute to show and talk about their special something and then allow others to ask questions.

Remember, the objective here is to build trust by sharing personal information.

 

If you want to see more ice breaker games, SnackNation compiled a short list of their favorites.

 

20 Team Building Activities

1. Life’s Best Moments

Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Group size: 15 – 20

Objective: Build rapport, trust

This team building activity requires that participants move out of their comfort zones.

  1. Instruct your team to spend a few minutes contemplating the best moments of their lives.
  2. Then ask them to decide which 30 seconds of their life they would relive again if they had the chance.
  3. Now, ask each team member to share their memory out loud.

If you are a senior team member running the activity, do share your own memory too. Your participation goes a long way towards breaking down barriers between levels and creating more trust.

This activity is great for pulling members out of their comfort zones and creating meaningful working relationships.

2. Survivor

Time: 30 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Problem-solving, Collaboration, Creativity

In this fun game, give your team a fictional emergency scenario, such as being stranded on a desert island or in the middle of the Arctic.

  1. Give them an imaginary list of ten items, of which they can choose five.  Include items such as a handful of seeds, a small pocket knife, a sword from the 1700s, 200 feet of cloth string or rope, a bed sheet, a 2-liter bucket, 1 liter of kerosene, a flint spark lighter, and so on.
  2. Divide the team into groups and have them collaborate on which items they will choose to survive.
  3. Then have them present their decisions to the entire team and have everyone do a final vote on which team’s strategy is the best.

3. Game of Possibilities

Time: 10 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Problem-solving, Communication, Creativity

Give an object to each small group. Participants must take turns acting out a unique use of that object, and teammates have to guess what that use is.

For example, using chopsticks as knitting needles.

Let the innovation and creative thinking begin!

 

4. The Common Factor

Time: 5 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Build rapport, Overcome bias

In this quick team building activity, instruct each group to find one thing they all have in common.

For example, one group discovers that they all love hiking. Instruct the participants of that group to take on the stereotype of a hiker for the rest of the meeting. Maybe throughout the meeting, those members will use terms like, “natural,” “peaceful,” or “rad,” to identify with the stereotype.

At the end of the meeting discuss how stereotyping and passing judgment on the qualities and preferences of a person is ridiculous and blinding.

To take it a step further, have each person end with one quality about themselves that typically lies outside of the stereotype of the common quality. Maybe one of the hikers loves designer handbags!

 

5. A Team-Made Puzzle

Time: 20 minutes

Group size: 8

Objective: Collaboration

Print out an image and then cut it into 8 perfect squares. Give each member of the group a square and a full sized square sheet of paper. Instruct them to draw their pieces at scale. In the end, all participants will put their puzzle pieces together to identify the picture.

The goal of this activity is to demonstrate how each member contributes to the larger picture (no pun intended!)

6. Simulated Problems

Time: 45 – 60 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Collaboration, Problem-solving

This fun game requires some creative problem-solving.

Give members a fictional problem that relates to work.

For example, if you are managing a marketing team, create a scenario that the company has released a marketing campaign that many people found to be distasteful and discriminatory. Instruct them to brainstorm ideas and create a plan for a public apology, as well as strategies for moving forward. What will future ads contain? How will your people work to gain back the company’s good reputation and credibility?

Problem-solving activities allow members to recognize mistakes before they take place in real life. They also enable companies to put processes in place to deal with such scenarios in the event that they actually happen.

 

7. A Scavenger Hunt

Time: > 60 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Collaboration, Problem-solving, Build rapport

This fun party game is a classic event but can take a decent amount of time. Use your creativity to organize a list of clues and even trivia questions that lead team members to different items/locations.

If the company is located in Chicago, for example, Cloud Gate (or as most people know it – the big bean statue), can be described on the list as the “place where people go to look at their curvy reflections.” Instruct participants to get a team photo at each location. The first team to return with the proof/items wins.

Outdoor activities can be a fun way to let team members engage with each other outside of the workplace. Note that this can also be organized as an indoor team event.

 

8. Pencil Precision

Time: 20 minutes

Group size: 2

Objective: Collaboration, Build rapport

Tie the ends of two long pieces of string or thin rope around the eraser-side of a pencil. Then instruct pairs of teammates to tie the other end of the pieces around their waists. Each team must stand back to back and work together to lower the pencil into an empty water bottle that is placed between them.

The first pair to complete this goal wins.

 

9. Human Knot

Time: 20 minutes

Group size: 8 – 15

Objective: Collaboration, Building rapport, Problem-solving, Communication

Instruct participants to stand in a circle facing one another, shoulder to shoulder. Have each member reach out with one hand and grab the hand of someone across the circle. Repeat this with the other hand. Set a time limit and instruct the team to un-knot themselves without releasing their hands.

 

10. A Look at the Future

Time: 10 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Collaboration, Build a vision

Hand out newspapers to each small group and instruct them to mark down 10 fictional headlines of what the company will be doing in the future. Then allow each group to share their headlines aloud.

This team building activity is helpful for contemplating long-term goals and establishing a common goal amongst team members. This experience is also great for analyzing where each team member sees the company going.

11. Guess Who?

Time: 15 minutes

Group size: 5 – 10

Objective: Problem-solving, Communication

Keep masking tape or sticky notes on hand for this activity. Write a series of names on sheets of paper or sticky notes, such as celebrities or historical figures. Then, arrange the groups into circles.

Each employee must tape one of the names to their forehead without looking at it. Participants will then go around the circle asking questions to find out clues of who they are.

Only “yes” or “no” questions are allowed. If someone gets a “yes” they are allowed another question.

 

12. Frostbite

Time: 30 – 60 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Communication, Collaboration, Problem-solving, Build trust

Gather the materials needed for this problem-solving activity such as building blocks, chairs, blindfolds, and sheets. This activity needs each group to leave their comfort zone.  

Instruct groups to imagine that they are stranded in the Arctic. The objective is to elect a leader to build a shelter in order to survive.

The challenge? The team leader has suffered from frostbite and therefore is unable to build the shelter. The second challenge? The other team members have been blinded by the snow and are wearing blindfolds. The team leader must give verbal instructions to his or her blind team members on how to build the shelter.

 

13. All Tied Up

Time: 10 minutes

Group size: 2 – 4

Objective: Collaboration, Communication, Problem-solving

Ready for some hands-on learning? Instruct pairs or small groups to stand in a tight circle facing one another. Use string or rope to tie their hands together.

Teams must then accomplish a goal while tied together, such as completing a board game or jigsaw puzzle, making a sandwich, tying each of their shoes, acting out charades, or racing other teams across a finish line.

14. Blind Drawing

Time: 10 – 15 minutes

Group size: 2

Objective: Build trust, Communication, Collaboration

Instruct pairs to sit back to back. One with a pencil and a piece of paper, and the other with an object or picture. The team member with the picture/object must instruct their teammate to draw what’s in their hands without saying what it is. They can describe its properties, color, etc. but not exactly state what the object is.

Such a team building event will push participants to trust and listen to one another.

 

15. Seemingly Nothing in Common

Time: 10 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Collaboration, Problem-solving

Lay out a series of random objects that have seemingly nothing in common. Then, ask each small team to pile the objects into categories. Have each group write down their answers. Once the time limit is over, each group will share their categories aloud and explain why they grouped them this way.

16. River Crossing

Time: 15 – 30 minutes

Group size: 10 – 20

Objective: Collaboration, Communication, Building trust, Problem-solving

This team building event is great for identifying your team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Demarcate an area in your conference room or on the lawn (if doing outdoors) as a river. This could be done by placing two long carpets head to head or putting paper sheets or rope to mark the beginning and end of the river. Instruct your teams that this river is full of toxic waste and they need to cross without touching the ‘water’ with hands or feet.

Provide cardboard squares as footholds that can be placed on the ‘river’ to cross. These cardboard squares can be moved as a person goes across the river. (Ensure that all the cardboard squares put head to head do not cover the entire length of the river.)

If anyone in the team ‘falls’ into the river – say loses his balance when trying to place his foot on the cardboard square – the entire team has to start over.

The goal is not only to cross the river safely but also to assist your teammates in crossing.

 

17. Perfect Vacation

Time: 10 – 20 minutes

Group size: 2

Objective: Listening

This exercise reinforces listening skills in a team.

Divide your team into pairs. Each person in a pair reveals to their partner what their ideal vacation would be – if time and money were no constraints. After each pair has exchanged their plans, the other person must describe the trip of their partner as best they can.

18. Sculpture Peek

Time: 30 minutes

Group size: 4 – 6

Objective: Communication, Problem-solving, Strategy

This hands-on learning activity will require a large bucket of Lego building blocks or Jenga blocks.

Start by building a model using the Lego blocks and hide it from the group. Then allow one team leader from each group to sneak a 10-second look at it.

Next, the team leader must relay what they have seen to their teammates in an effort to build the free-standing structure based on memory. After about one minute of trying to recreate the model, ask another member to come up for a “sneak peek” before going back to their team and telling them how to recreate the sculpture.

The goal? The first team to achieve an exact replica wins.

A similar sculpture game can be played, where each team is given a large number of small objects with which to build the tallest sculpture. The team that can build the tallest free-standing structure wins. Building events like this one are a fun way to improve teamwork all around.

19. Electric Fence

Time: 20 minutes

Group Size: 10 – 15

Objective: Collaboration, Communication, Building trust, Problem-solving, Building rapport

In this experiential team building event, create a waist-high ‘electric fence’. You can do this by tying a string between two chairs kept at a distance from each other. Each team member must cross the fence without touching it.

The catch? Participants must be touching one other team member with a hand at all times and cannot go under the fence. This includes the rest of the group on either side of the fence.

Fun activities and building events like this lead to a great combination of teamwork skills!

20. Company Outing

Time: > 60 minutes

Group size: Entire group

Objective: Communication, Building rapport

Though this event is the most expensive team building event, it’s one that makes members feel extremely valued.

This is a good corporate team building exercise and works best if you have people in different departments who do not interact with each other on a daily basis.

The idea is to invite the entire team out to coffee, lunch or dinner. It could also be a fun outing experience that involves a game of golf and allows for some relaxation. Engaging with each other outside of the workplace can make team members feel relaxed and at ease. This helps them to open up and bond in a natural manner. This is a fantastic team building event for large groups and small groups alike.

The best part?

You can use this team building program as an opportunity for a lunch-and-learn! Employee training out of the conference room can be both effective and fun experience!

 

What Next?

There are tons of other team building activities that you could choose from like the egg drop, the barter puzzle, the escape room, company treasure hunts, and office trivia.

The ones listed here are just a few of our favorites. We use them regularly to engage and bond with our teammates.

Once you have completed a couple of team building activities, consider creating a memory wall at work of photos and memories from your team’s experiential learning process.

Over to You

Team building exercises might take some effort to plan and execute, but the results are priceless. With less division, better communication skills, enhanced collaboration, and a more cohesive vision, successful teams are able to create a momentum that never runs out.  

Want more tips on creating a great team? Hone in on your team norms with 9 Team Norms To Help You Create a High-Performing Team.

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