Creating a productive, collaborative and cooperative environment is important for the health of any company. Some companies anticipate the challenges of melding different personalities while other companies respond to interpersonal issues. Either way, the company must itself be creative in finding ways to encourage a healthy and fun working environment. By using indoor team building exercises, a company can promote a positive environment any time of year and often on the company's own site.
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Corporate Comedy Improv
For those who have watched "Whose Line Is It Anyway?," it is easy to see why this type of group exercise can help employees get to know each other better, as well as laugh with each other and at themselves. Having a sense of humour, especially about ourselves, in the office place is a character traitor skill--that is all to often overlooked. When employers help employees feel that there is some levity tied into their day, employers may benefit from fostering a more forgiving and lighthearted atmosphere to balance out the rigours of the work day.
Make this exercise a true team effort. At the beginning of the session, ask the employees to write down different scenarios and characters. Once the improv session begins, ensure that all employees are fully engaged in at least one or two of the scenarios. Help encourage the employees to relax and let the scenes unfold and to try to find the humour in even the more tense situations.
This exercise can open up an honest dialogue among management and employees along with a more positive outlook in general.
For this team building exercise, you will want to break your employees into smaller groups--maybe four to six. Ask them to imagine that they have suffered a boat crash, and they are now on a desert island. They cannot foresee imminent rescue. Ask them how they, as a group, will survive. Have them create a plan outlining who will be the leader and how duties will be assigned. Ask participants to consider their own skills and to be bold enough to politely but firmly assert themselves. The group should come to its decisions by rational discussion and agreement, rather than by immediately resorting to voting. Encourage debate, without discouraging dissent, as they find solutions to communication and coordination issues, as well as the survival issues at hand.
Solve a Mystery without Pointing Fingers
In the office environment, it is easy to go into "not me" mode when a mysterious and problematic issue arises. Even worse, self-defensive behaviour--often in a passive-aggressive form--arises in the form of pointing fingers at fellow employees. Try creating a murder mystery in which employees must work together to find the culprit This is a chance to reinforce the company's goal of working toward a common end. Employees should be discouraged from jumping to conclusions or haphazardly trying to deflect guilt from themselves. Encourage them to trust their fellow employees and managers to get to the bottom of the mystery.
You can play this game as a paper and pencil game, or make it more elaborate by encouraging costumes. Simplicity should suffice in order to drive home the point of camaraderie and trust.
Not So Trivial Trivia
Without prying, ask your employees to share some of their personal interests or characteristics that their fellow employees may or may not know. As a manager, you should also include employees' work tasks and accomplishments. Gather your group together and make your own trivia game show to see how well your employees know one another, professionally and personally.
This gently physical team building exercise foster funs and cooperation. Not everyone is good at blowing up a balloon and certainly not everyone is good at tying a balloon. Break the employees into small groups and ask them to complete with other teams to see who can blow up the most balloons in a set period of time. The activity will help the employees coordinate who is best at each task while having fun.
Once the groups have inflated their balloons, they can play a game in which they stand in a circle and blow the balloon around the group, trying to keep it afloat as long as possible.
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