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Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Transformational Leadership |

Speed Dating and 4 Other Innovative Team Building Activities

Speed Dating and 4 Other Innovative Team Building Activities

I’ve been talking about top teams and ways to get them aligned in the past few weeks. Last week we ended with the Secret Ingredient that Ties Top Teams Together, where the bottom line is that people need to really know each other before they can become a high performing team. When team members have understood and accepted the power of disclosure I do a number of team building activities that helps them get everything together. Here area  few of these to get you started.

1. Speed dating

A non evasive team building activity to kick off discussions about personal relationships is a speed dating exercise in which you request team members to answer a number of different speed dating questions. Example of some of these questions are:

  • What makes you happy/sad/angry?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What are you most passionate about?
  • What would you take with you to a desert island?
  • If you had to be someone else for a day, who would you be and why?
  • If you could invite anyone, dead or alive, to dinner, who would it be?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • What’s the most reckless (or embarrassing) thing you’ve ever done?

The answers to these questions are often fun and more importantly very revealing what the person is about and provides a great

2. Hard Talk

One of my favorite and often the most impactful team building activities is HARDtalk in which the leader of the team is exposed to hard hitting questions. The key is the first questions, which needs to be the toughest one, the one that everybody wants to know the answer for and the one that people gossip about.

The results are spectacular. As the audience gasps and holds their breath at the audacity of me to ask the question everybody wants asked but nobody dares to. Then, I keep on digging deeper with follow up questions that doesn’t let the boss off the hook but forces him/her to explain their actions and address the consequences.

3. Personality Tests

Personality tests like MBTI or Belbin are  great, non intrusive ice breakers, in which team members get an insight in the personality type and preferred styles of their colleagues. This exercise as well as the next two exercises can’t be done straight of the bat and require some team gestation time.

3. Mask Exercise

This exercise asks participants to draw one of the mask they wear. It’s used to help people go deeper into themselves or to break open a “stuck” group. In the mask drawing they can include their characteristics, dreams, interests, weaknesses, strengths, basically anything that explains the individual to his/her team members in a non threatening manner.

After having drawn the mask, the person is asked to share his mask in the larger group in which members can ask questions to clarify or further explain certain characteristics.

4. Life Line

This team building activity is similar to the mask exercises since it requires people to share their ‘life-line’ and specifically the events in the past that have shaped them today. It requires significant introspection and for some people past events can be of a traumatic nature; they might have issues thinking of them, let alone sharing them.

5. Hot Seat

I often do the Hot Seat exercise only if the team has displayed solid steps on the ‘trust ladder’ since it requires each individual to give feedback to the other person in the presence of other team members. One person is asked to sit on the ‘hot seat’ and his colleagues are asked to answer the following two question for the colleague in the hot seat:

  • I would like to thank you for…. and
  • I think you can significantly improve your performance if you…

All these exercises will help team members to get to know each other better and this is required to move to the next level of trust and relationship building in the team which then focuses on:

  • Agreeing ways of working and delivering together
  • Supporting each other and holding each other accountable
  • Recognizing, celebrating and achieving personal growth

I will expand on this in next weeks blog. If in the meantime you have other suggestions for ‘getting to know each other’ team building activities, then please share them below! Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to keep receiving tricks on creating winning teams in your organization.



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