It’s far too easy for us to get stuck in the daily grind at work; Monday through Friday, chugging along to get through to the weekend. As we start to fade into this pattern of thinking, it’s easy to forget our unique position as part of a team at work. If the focus is on making it through to the weekend, it’s difficult to maintain a positive, stress-free work environment. This is of the utmost importance since the quality of our work environment directly impacts our productivity.
So, what can you do, as a business leader, to help bring the awareness back to the team? You can encourage interaction between team members by workspace organization and desk positioning, but the best way to get people to open up and let others in is to host team-building exercises.
Divide your team up into groups of two to three members; it’s best to randomly select the group members so that your individual teams aren’t simple office niches. Give each team a standard office tool or object and ask them to come up with a brief sales pitch for it. You can give each team a set amount of time to prepare or ask them to come up with it on the fly, depending on whether you are interested in improvisation or strategic thinking.
During the sales pitch, the other teams will be given an upper limit that they can “invest”. The team that gets the most money in “investments” wins.
Using notecards, jot down little-known facts about your office or company. Feel free to include small observations about the color or theme of items and rooms; this will test your employees’ memory and observational skills. If you’d like, you can break the office up into teams and ask them to discuss the answers to each question before they pipe up.
As if puzzles weren’t fun enough, puzzle party will take teamwork to a whole new level. You will need one puzzle for each team that participates in this exercise; teams should be no larger than 4. From each puzzle, remove 10 pieces and place them into a bowl. Mix up the bowl and return a random ten pieces to each puzzle.
If you’d like to add some intrigue to the exercise, pick up some chips for bartering, but don’t explain what they are for – simply include them in the puzzle box. Set a time limit and see who finishes their puzzle first!
Once Upon a Timeline
This exercise can help put the lives of others into perspective with the company they work for. Sometimes it’s easy to feel disconnected with your coworkers and employer – especially if you don’t know much about the business you work for.
Start by drawing a long timeline on a whiteboard; label the right side as the present moment, and the left side as the company’s founding date. Add any pertinent business-related information to the timeline and ask employees to share important events from their life and add them to the board. Don’t force coworkers to over-share, but ask them to share at least one important event from their lives.
For this ‘game’, you’ll need some balls of yarn; if you visit a craft store for new skeins of yarn, you may need to roll your own balls. Break your team into groups of 6-8 and give each a ball of yarn. Have the team form a circle, and choose one person to be blindfolded. Start the yarn ball with one member of the team and inform them to all roll the ball to someone new, ending with the person who is blindfolded.
Once the yarn web is formed, it is the remaining team members’ job to help the blindfolded member untangle the web! Clear communication will be required, and team members who can see cannot move.
Try these out on your team and see how it affects performance and openness at work!