Successful businesses bring together the talents of individual employees. Group activities are one way to accomplish this goal, and have fun at the same time. Here are the best exercises for improving teamwork in 5 minutes or less.
One-word Story Writing
This activity is appropriate for groups of 20 or less. Only a pen and paper are needed. The team leader writes the words “Once upon a time” on a piece of paper, and passes it around the room. Each member of the group adds a single word of their own choosing, and a story is created. Allow time for each member to have an opportunity to add several words. At the end of the exercise, the team leader reads the story out loud for all to hear. The purpose of the exercise is to promote collaboration and recognize individual creativity.
Best and Worst Bosses
This is one of the most popular 5 minute team building exercises of all time (among employees). It is appropriate for groups of any size and requires no materials. The team leader goes first, and describes a favorite and a least favorite boss at a previous job. Each member of the group then does the same. First-time employees can describe college professors or high school teachers instead. The purpose of the exercise is to promote group discussion of noteworthy leadership traits.
This exercise works well with large groups. It requires only a stopwatch and an open area. The team leader assembles everyone into small groups of 5 to 10 people. The people in each group hold hands standing in a circle, with everyone facing outward. Each circle takes a turn counting out loud from 1 to 50, with each person saying a number in sequence, moving around the circle in a clockwise direction. The team leader times how long it takes each circle to count to 50 in this fashion, and the fastest circle wins. This activity emphasizes victory by collective effort.
Here is an activity for groups of any size. It requires pens and paper, and a simple stick-figure diagram of a common object (house, car, apple, etc.). A member of the group is selected to come to the front, and that person is given the diagram to look at without the others seeing. The rest of the group places the tip of their pens in the middle of a piece of paper in front of them, and is asked to close their eyes. Without lifting pen from paper, they must draw according to the verbal directions of the person up front, in an effort to copy the image. The purpose is to improve communication.
This is a variation on one of the classic 5 minute team building exercises known as paper towers. It is appropriate for groups of up to 50 people. It requires newspaper and several rolls of tape. Smaller groups of 5 or so people are formed, and each receives a single sheet from the newspaper (the original game used regular copy paper), and tape. The goal is to see which group can build the tallest tower using only the piece of newspaper and the tape. The purpose of the exercise is to promote group creativity and problem solving.
These exercises are designed to encourage collaboration in achieving the goals of the business. Team leaders should take care to respect individual sensitivities while conducting the exercises. Done correctly, they are an excellent way to reinforce the value of teamwork.