I’ve been doing intensive research for more than two years on maximizing team performance, collaboration, and innovation. Along the way, I’ve interviewed experts, influencers, HR/Sales executives, CEOs and many others on the very best team building exercises.
I’ve tested dozens of them out in every size organization from Fortune 100, SMBs, startups, very small businesses, remote teams, executive teams, executive boards, charity boards, sales teams, human resources, etc.
I’m giving you the best of the best below. These will make an impact in your organization. They will increase performance, KPIs, collaboration, retention, engagement, innovation/creativity and much more.
I don’t go into the science, research, and reasoning in this post just the exercises themselves.
And you could schedule them quarterly to do and you’ll have enough for the next 15 months.
Here are the Top 5 Team Building Activities to Sky Rocket Performance
1) Have every person bring a picture at the beginning of a weekly meeting. Give people 30 seconds to say why they picked the picture and what it means to them. You’ll see engagement and productivity rise immediately in the meeting.
There are several reasons why using picture is powerful:
- Pictures evoke strong emotions in people and create instant connections. They create an instant boost of serotonin and oxytocin, which are connection-building hormones. Plus, that’s why Facebook and Instagram work – pictures!
- They capture people’s attention (and there is less chance they get distracted versus just telling a story alone). We remember images much better than words. Research shows that people remember 60% of they see three days later. It is only 10% of words.
- They evoke associations in people’s minds to things they have done, experienced or just heard about
- Human beings are hardwired for visual stimulation. We’ve only had written communication for 3000+ years, and visual communication for 10x longer.
- Photos work across all cultures and geographic boundaries. Words don’t. I’ve clients run this in Europe, Asia, and South America, and it’s been just as effective. It would be much harder to do this with words along because of language barriers and differences in languages.
1A) You can also do that by having people bring in three pictures: One of themselves as a kid, one of them with friends/family and one of them doing an activity they love. Here is a free website with royalty-free pictures that people could use as well.
2) Go around the room and answer one question in one minute. The leader needs to go first and they need to share something vulnerable. You can use my team building game, Cards Against Mundanity, to get the questions from. It’s based off a famous research study by Professor Arthur Aron where he got complete strangers to create the closest relationships in their lives in 45 minutes.
2A) Get a bowl and put it in a central location such as the kitchen. Put questions in the bowl. People can use them to ask people questions.
3) Have everyone go around the room and share the one-minute in his or her life they would relive over every other moment. Each person has one minute to share what that moment was and why it matters to them. It brings out the most important moments for people and has them sharing it with the team.
4) Everyone wants a fun exercise, so here is one for you: Airband or Hairband activity. You get team members to act out and “lip sync” their favorite song. Give them a week to prepare, and then have them perform it. Get creative with costumes, props, etc. At the end, have them share why they picked that song. Was it because of a specific experience or memory?
5) Memory wall exercise. People draw pictures or share photos of a meaningful and positive time/experience they have had at work. This activity gets people to share positive memories about the organization, and focus on the things that are going right.