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Team Building Games

Team building games are a fun and interactive way to get your team energized and working together smoothly. While real professional tasks come and go and require cooperation, team-building through games lets, you work together on tasks that are totally different.

So, let’s take a look at the various types of games and how to play them!

team building games

Why Would You Want To Do That?

These games and activities can do wonders for your team. They can help new people get to know everyone, as well as help different members learn more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Games can also encourage people who normally don’t have a chance to work together to see what happens when they collaborate. And, of course, they encourage people to lose their shells and have some fun.

So, here’s a selection of some of the best team building games out there.

team building game

Get-to-Know-You Games

These games are designed to either introduce new people to a team or vice-versa or to help everyone get to know each other better in an established team. Most often, we get into our work routines and play out our normal relationships with our coworkers. But games such as these let us learn a whole lot more about each other and encourage stronger relationships and more effective collaborations.

1 Two Truths And A Lie

This is a well-known party game that can be easily adapted to a team situation. The goal is to have fun and learn a thing or two about each other in the process.

How to Play:

  • Everyone in the group simply has to think up and write down two true statements about themselves and one lie. Make sure to let everyone know to keep the tone of these statements “family friendly” but encourage fun and wacky ideas.

Also, explain that the statements should all be equally believable to make things difficult. “I used to be a gorilla” is a statement that’s probably too easy to pick out as a lie.

  • When everyone’s ready, take turns reading out the statements and then, on a count of three, get everyone else to hold up the number of fingers they think corresponds to the lie (#1, 2, or 3).

Although it’s all just for fun, you could keep track of points to see who is the team’s resident lie detector.

the team building game

2 Who Am I?

Hopefully, playing this game isn’t going to precipitate anyone’s existential crisis. That’s not the idea. Instead, this is a fun mixing game used to break the ice at parties and social events. All you need is some paper and tape and a bunch of well-known names for people to guess.

How to Play:

  • Every player gets a paper taped to their back that has the name of a famous person or even a fictional character written on it. Think Hulk Hogan or the Incredible Hulk.
  • The goal is to guess who you are by asking only yes or no questions (you know, “Am I a singer? Do I eat people? Can I fly? etc.”).
  • To make it an effective mixing game, designed to get everyone to talk to each other, make a rule that you can only ask one person one question before you can move on.

So you have to walk around the room, engage others and peek at their name and give them clues while you try to guess your own name. Keep playing until everyone knows who they are.

3 Behind My Back

A game of a similar flavor, Behind My Back, can either be played one-on-one or as a mixing game. I prefer to play it up at the front for comic effect, but it really depends on your group.

How to Play:

  • One person (or everyone) gets a paper taped to their back with a word on it. Someone else has to help them guess the word, not by talking this time but by drawing it on the paper so they can see it and guess.
  • If you play one-on-one, you could split the group into two teams who compete to see which team has the best chemistry. If you play as a mixing game, each person can go get a new picture if they guess the one that they had.

Now, not everyone can draw, and that’s part of the fun. The idea isn’t to make it easy but to make it hard so that people have to interact more. The sillier the drawing, the more hilarious this game can get!

the team building games

4 Reporting Live

This game requires a good memory and great communication skills. The object is to look at a picture and then tell your team how to reconstruct it. It may sound like an easy task, but when you’ve got a complicated picture and accuracy is important, it can be a real struggle.

How to Play:

  • Prepare a few moderately complex images. For example, a picture of just an apple is too easy, but a scene of a few people in a park gives the runner a few strong points to remember.
  • Divide your team up into small groups and have each group select a “runner.”
  • Invite the runners up to look at an image for just 10 seconds. They then have to run back to their teams and have two minutes to get the team to re-create the image as accurately as possible.
  • The runner can’t touch a pen or pencil, or even point to the paper. They have to use their words only.
  • After two minutes, ask the runners to bring the pictures up and judge them in front of everyone. Give out points for accuracy. Then choose new runners and a new image and repeat until each person in the group has had a try in the role of runner.

Of course, the team with the most points at the end wins (and is probably your best bet if you need to create any fine art forgeries)!

5 Ball Toss Name Game

It’s pretty amazing, but just the simple act of remembering someone’s name can drastically improve your relationship with them – especially if they remember yours, too. With large teams, this is often a real challenge, but it’s really not one we should be embarrassed about.

Some of us (points at self) really struggle with this. So, a game that helps you practice in a fun way can be a welcomed relief.

How To Play:

  • Simply get your team to stand in a large circle with a ball. Let all players introduce themselves by first name (or nickname, or whatever they like to be called).
  • After introductions are done, simply throw the ball to one person and shout their name. They then throw it on to another, calling that person’s name, and so on.
  • One ball is too easy, so after a dozen or so passes, introduce another ball. And later, another and another.

The idea is to make this more and more difficult, so people actually try hard to focus on getting the names right. But to play this game correctly, it should devolve into a fun mad mess at the end to relieve the tension a bit!

6 Group Story Telling

This is a fun game that encourages people to think on their feet and also to cooperate. Your whole team can work together to create a story as a group by adding a little bit to it at a time. When you introduce this game, be sure to focus on the concept “Yes, and…?” which comes from improvement. In other words, always cooperate and add to others’ ideas, rather than blocking or stopping them.

the team building games guide

How to Play:

  • Get your team to stand in a circle and explain the game. You’re going to tell a story, and each person can add one sentence to it at a time. Try to encourage imagination and adding action to the story.

How do you know when the story is done? You can do this in a few different ways.

  • One is to ask for people to volunteer a set of words to write on a board. Try to pick odd and difficult words to incorporate into a story. Once all the words are used, you can declare the story over. I like to ask for a color, a place, a food, and an animal – you might get a story called “Mississippi Blue Snake Meatballs.”
  • Another way to do it is to choose a final line of the story and tell everyone what this is at the start. As you start the story in a totally different direction, let everyone know that when it comes around the circle and back to you, it will have to end in this line.

That way, you can keep the story from running too far away into madness and also lets everyone know where the task is going.

  • Say the last line altogether for added effect. Some weird final lines include:

1 “And that’s why I don’t put pickles in my shoes anymore.”

2 “The Martians sent me home and told me I was banned for life.”

3 “The moral of this story is, never put peanut butter on an otter.”

4 “When the dust settled, Andrew was left alone at the top of the mountain of trash.”

7 This Is My

All you need to play This Is My is a collection of unusual objects and some creative minds. Teams compete to see who can come up with the most explanations for the weird things they’ve been given.

How to Play:

  • Break up into small groups and give each group a weird object. Give them just a couple of minutes to brainstorm what the thing could be used for. Not its real use, mind you, but what does it look or seem like it could be?

For example, a hose from a vacuum cleaner could be “a giant worm’s sleeping bag,” an elephant’s trunk, a cat’s tail, and much, much more.

  • After the brainstorming session, get the teams to cluster around an open space we’ll call “the ring.” Start the clock (usually two to three minutes is plenty) and ask participants to jump into the ring and explain or show what their object can be used for.
  • Teams don’t have to alternate. In fact, the more ideas a team can express in the time period, the more points they get.

However, make sure everyone preserves a professional politeness and doesn’t interrupt other players.

8 Get In Line!

Here’s yet another fun Team Building Games that’s great for getting new groups to work together. It also requires no equipment at all, so it’s easy to play and can be instituted anywhere. All people have to do is line up in order. Now, how simple is that?

How To Play:

  • Separate your team into smaller groups (ten or so is good to make it more challenging).
  • Choose a category like “Height” and ask the teams to race to line up in order of height, of course from shortest to tallest or tallest to shortest. The fastest team gets the point.
  • Try more rounds with as many different categories as you can come up with: age, shoe size, hair length, birthday, alphabetical order of names, number of toes, etc. Actually, maybe not that last one.

Want to make things more challenging?

  • Midway through the game, introduce a new rule – no talking! This will throw a wrench into the teams’ working methods, so it makes for interesting watching.

You can learn a lot about a team from how people communicate without speaking and also see who naturally takes initiative and leadership roles.

Problem-Solving Games

Like all team building games, problem-solving games help your team work better together. But these games, in particular, help people share problem-solving strategies and new ways of thinking.

Even though it may seem silly at times, this sort of practice can actually help colleagues learn to cooperate more effectively and face challenges with a feeling of mutual support.

1 Never-Can-Tell Games

Never-can-tell games involve some sort of action or riddle. Their purpose is to get people thinking tangentially and get their blinders off. They’re called “never-can-tell” because you get the ball rolling by setting up the riddle or challenge, but you don’t ever tell people the answer.

Instead, people have to demonstrate that they’ve got the right answer. These games can be snuck into any other programming, but they can be both intriguing and infuriating.

I’m going to tell you one such game, including the answer, which I know I’m not supposed to do. Don’t tell!

How to Play:

  • Tell people, “Do what I do. The moon has two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.”
  • At the same time, use your left hand to draw a big circle, two dotted eyes and a dotted nose, and a curved mouth in the air. People will try to repeat and repeat this, and you can tell them “Nope” or “You’ve got it.”

The Answer: The key is that since most people are right-handed, they’ll try to copy you with their right hand. Lefties may get an advantage here, but let’s let them have it…for once!

  • Have someone show you a few times that they have figured out the trick, just in case they’ve got it by accident. Great, now they are never-can-tellers, too, and they can help you to assess the others.

Here’s another easy one:

  • Stand in a circle and hand the person to your left two pens. Ask “How many?” and the answer will have to be one or two, but it’s nothing to do with the pens – it depends how many hands you use to hand them over!

You can think up your own sneaky challenges or look for tricky riddles online.

  • Some suggestions for tricks include: do things left-handed, smile while you say something, fold your hands after doing or saying something, etc.

2 Leaning Tower Of Spaghetti

This is a team challenge more than a game. But it’s definitely a lot of fun and a great way to get a look at how your team works together under pressure. All they have to do to win is build the tallest free-standing tower of spaghetti that can hold a full marshmallow on top. Sound easy? Trust me; it’s not!

team building games guide

Materials:

  • spaghetti
  • marshmallows
  • scotch tape
  • string
  • tape measure

Here are the Rules:

1 Each team gets 25 pieces of spaghetti, one yard of string, one yard of scotch tape, and one marshmallow. No other materials may be used in the construction.

2 Towers must be free-standing, but they can be taped to a table or floor.

3 The marshmallow must be the top-most part of the tower.

4 The tallest tower that lasts until measuring is complete is the winner. BUT it must stay standing.

Normally, 20 minutes is a good time limit for the construction. Add another 10 minutes for judging and prizes for a quick ½-hour activity. If you want to debrief this activity afterward, there’s a nice short video on TED.com that presents some very interesting and unexpected findings.

As a note, you might think that people with engineering and architectural know-how would do best at this challenge, but you’d be surprised! Normally the winning team is the group that dives in and builds fastest, even if they get some collapses along the way.

3 Geocache Puzzle

Geocaching means hiding caches of just about anything for other people to find based on GPS coordinates. These days, everyone has a phone and the App power to do just that, so why not make it into a team challenge?

How to Play:

  • Create a puzzle, a phrase, even a riddle that can be split into many parts. Groups will have to put the answer together by visiting each cache and getting the next piece of the puzzle from it.
  • Include the GPS coordinates for another cache with each cache you hide so that the players can move on from one to another to find all the pieces.

You can play this game with a set time limit on your campus or premises, or else let people play on their own time and announce when the challenge has been met.

One way to give clues another level is to make them into QR codes that players will have to scan from a cache and then look up. You can generate your own QR codes here quickly and easily – and for free!

Outdoor Games

Sometimes there’s nothing better than getting out of the same old environment. If your team normally or always works inside, try stepping out for a whole new group experience. Of course, make sure to choose a day with great weather and be sensitive to everyone’s needs, from allergies to agoraphobia, to create a safe and supportive environment.

1 Creative Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a well-known game that we all played at birthday parties when we were little. So how do you make it fun for grown-ups? Add a creative element to the game and judge who has the best example of each item in their hunting list.

How to Play:

  • Break up into small groups and hand out copies of a scavenger hunt list you’ve pre-made. Be sure to include a good mix of things that can be found (live “something living”), things that may have to be created (for example, “a bull”), and things that have to be performed (like “Miss America 2021”).
  • Give the groups a time limit to find, make, or prepare to perform the things on their list. Make this 50% of your available time and reserve the other 50% for presentations.

team building games tip

After the hunt’s time limit is up, prepare to judge.

  • Call for one item off the list and have all the teams bring up their offering. Judge it based on which team is the most creative. If they need to act or perform, let them take turns and really ham it up.

The team with the most points at the end wins!

  • You can also add a race element to the performance section. Call out “Bring me a _____!” and the first team to race up with their offering gets speed points. To get everyone involved, make a rule that each person can only come to the front once.

Here are some ideas for your list:

1 Find: a stinky sock, a delicious snack, cash.

2 Make: a rickshaw, a photo of a human pyramid, a team flag signed by everyone.

3 Perform: two people with their clothes on backwards, a pop song, a scene from Lion King.

2 Listen To Me!

For this game, you need a sort of challenging area or even something of an obstacle course. Choose a challenge, like picking up a marker and writing your name on a piece of paper. The challenge is that this has to be done blindfolded. So, prepare enough blindfolds, so there’s one for each group, or if sharing is an issue, get one for everybody.

How to Play:

  • Find an area that has some obstacles or isn’t all that easy to walk through.
  • Break your group into competing teams. Each team has to choose a person who will be blindfolded and perform a task. No one can touch or come close to this person, but they can shout directions to them from behind a set point.
  • This is a race, so tell the blindfolded walkers what their task is, then let them have at it and see who can complete the task first.
  • You can go through lots of rounds, each with a different task, so that everyone can have a turn.

If you have people on your team with mobility issues, they’ll still be involved by calling out instructions.

You can assign all sorts of tricky tasks, but here are a few to get you started:

1 Pour a cup of water and drink it (put the cups and water bottles in different areas).

2 Find a sheet of paper, make a paper airplane, and fly it into a target.

3 Find a skipping rope and skip with it ten times.

4 Eat three snacks off paper plates without using your hands.

3 Rocket Science

This is an inventive and fun way to get your team working on a design task altogether. It’s also a real blast! The task is to make the best rocket, but you can decide what that means to you (highest, farthest, prettiest?) and give out your own prizes. You need a few materials here, but trust me, it’s worth it.

team building game guide

Materials:

  • 2-liter soda bottle for each team (or large water bottle, just make sure they’re all the same)
  • wine cork for each team
  • dry ice (frozen CO2, which you can find easily at science or party supply shops)
  • small cooler box for the dry ice
  • tongs to pick up the dry ice and protective goggles for the launcher
  • water
  • decorative materials (use your recycling boxes!) plus tape and/or glue

How to Play:

This is less of a game and more of a group challenge, but it’s still a fun one.

  • Give each team a bottle and a cork, decorative materials, and a time limit. Tell them they have to make the best rocket which will fly bottle-bottom first.
  • Pre-launch, you should scout a wide open area that has a manhole cover or sewer grate in it. Check to see that the wine corks will jam into the hole in the grate and stay put.
  • To launch a rocket, put a measure of water into the bottle, then quickly drop in a few pieces of dry ice, cork the mouth of the bottle, then plant the other end of the cork into the hole you’ve pre-scouted.
  • Then run away about ten feet. The dry ice will turn back into CO2 gas as it melts in the water. This gas will expand until the cork can’t hold the pressure any longer, and –BAM- we have blast off!

Adding things like a nose-cone and fins to a bottle can make it into a better rocket, but too much weight or an unbalanced load can cause it to spin or flop. You could shoot off a demo rocket at the start, so everyone knows the plan.

Warnings:

1 Only one person should handle the launching to minimize risk. Dry ice is extremely cold and can freeze your skin on contact. Don’t touch it – use tongs.

2 Eyewear is important in case a bottle blows up before the cork blows out. This sounds bad, but all that will happen is the plastic will split open. You could get water sprayed at you, which won’t hurt if your eyes are protected. But honestly, I’ve done this dozens of times and never seen a single bottle blow.

3 Do try a test rocket to see which way the rockets will fly. Have your group stand in a safe place, at a safe distance, when you do your launches.

4 The Floor Is Lava

Before this was a bizarre TV show, it was a classic team building game. And it’s much simpler to set up than you think. All you need to play is some big poster or flipboard paper, determination, and grit. Lots of grit!

How to Play:

  • Break your team into smaller groups of about four to five people and give each a big piece of paper. Tell everyone the floor (or ground if you’re outside) is lava, so they all need to stand on the paper, or they’re out.
  • The first round should be easy. Everyone should be able to get one or two feet on the paper, and they can hold onto each other for support. Go around and judge the teams – they have to stand on the paper for five seconds to pass the round.
  • In the next round, fold the paper in half, then do the same 5-second challenge. Not everyone has to have a foot on the paper; they just can’t touch the ground. Yep, piggybacks and bearhugs.
  • Keep folding the paper in half in each round until there’s only one team left standing – the winners!

Everyone else was a sacrificial victim to the volcano but don’t worry; the harvest should be good this year.

team building

5 Dear Liza

“There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza…”

This game is inspired by the song, and trust me, even if you don’t make any reference to the tune in your instructions, you’ll definitely catch people humming the tune afterwards. Aren’t people odd?

The whole idea here is to work together as a team to fill up a bucket with water, so be sure to do this on a warm day with people who can handle getting a little bit soaked. Just a little bit.

Materials:

  • two buckets for each team, one whole and a smaller one with some holes drilled in it
  • ping pong ball for each team
  • cup with lots of holes drilled in it for each team
  • water

How To Play:

  • Divide your team into two to four groups depending on how many people you have.
  • Set each team’s drilled bucket down with them and put the ping pong ball inside. Put their whole bucket filled with water about 20 yards away. Give the team the drilled cup.
  • The object of the game is to run and fetch water using only the cup. They have to run back and fill up the smaller bucket with water until it overflows and the ping pong ball floats out of it.
  • Teams will have to work together to help plug the holes in both their buckets and cups while still racing to be quickest. The first team to float their ping pong ball away is the winner.

This is a good active game that less mobile people can also enjoy. While some teammates run to get water, they can stay and plug the holes in the buckets to keep. You can also prank a stronger team (or upper management) by giving them containers with way more holes.

Virtual Games

There’s no way to avoid the new state of the world. Whether because of a dispersed team, people working remotely, or a global pandemic, sometimes you just can’t get your team together in person.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t play team building games together. Rather than using Zoom or Google Workspace for dry meetings, you can set up a fun-filled video conference instead.

1 Quizmaster’s Quizzy Quiz

One of the easiest and most engaging games to play with a remote team is a trivia quiz. It’s tremendously simple to set up, though the more effort the quizmaster puts in, the more fun it will be.

A great quiz includes easy questions that everyone should get, intermediate questions that require some thinking, tricky questions with sneaky answers, and really tough questions that frustrate just about everyone.

Not too obscure…

But don’t be too obscure with your trivia. Keep it to things that everyone could know. General knowledge, like history, current affairs, geography, entertainment, etc.

For Example:

1 “Which team won the 2014 Football World Cup?” may be a bit tough for non-sports fans but can still be answerable for anyone who listens to the news.

2 “Which soccer player wore one green sock and one white sock for half of a game in the 1976 pre-season?” is probably not a ‘general knowledge’ question!

How to Play:

  • Pre-assign a quizmaster to make a quiz of appropriate length. You can do about 40 questions in an hour, including giving the answers.
  • Send out a blank answer sheet for players to print out, or have everyone make their own.
  • The quizmaster reads out the questions, and players write their answers. After ten questions, repeat them quickly to give players a second chance.
  • Make sure no one cheats! To avoid googling answers, have all players keep their hands in plain view at all times. No phones or typing on keyboards allowed.
  • At the end of the quiz, have each player take a photo of their answer sheet and send it to another player for marking.
  • Tell each person who to send their quiz to. Read out the questions and answers and then take score to see who’s your team genius.

2 Image Scavenger Hunt

This game is something like a quiz mixed with a scavenger hunt and a race. It’s pretty straightforward as well. Again, simply choose a quizmaster who will ask the players to find things on the Internet. So, of course, you can Google and any other resources for this game. The first player to share an image that’s correct to the group gets a point.

the team building guide

Simple, right?

Well, you can make it as easy or as tricky and controversial as you’d like. Mix easy and really tough questions so that everyone has a chance to score points. Here are some ideas:

Find:

1 an animal that lays eggs AND feeds its young milk

2 the newest member of our board of directors

3 my cat

4 a 김치전

5 a living relative of Dwight Eisenhower

See how weird and tricky you can be to encourage thinking outside of the box, and fun, too.

3 Taboo

This last game really lends itself well to the separated virtual environment that is the current reality for so many teams. Played just like the board game; all you have to do is get people to say your secret word. Simple?

How To Play:

  • Just like the board game Taboo, prepare a list of secret words.
  • Each one should have two or three related “taboo” words along with it.
  • Taking turns, send a secret word and the taboo words to a player by secret message. This player has to get someone else to say the word without saying it or the taboo words themselves.
  • You can simply give the person who guesses the secret word a point.
  • But if you want to make it more complicated, you can split into teams and let the person with the secret word try to get their team to guess it first within a time limit. Then the other team can venture a guess to steal the point.

More Team Building Exercises And Games

Well, we found some awesome games and ideas online such as the 3-in-1 Funny Office Game and Conversation Starter | Team Building Card Game with 150 Icebreakers, the Building Blocks: Team Building Card Game for Work – Conversation Starters & Ice Breakers, Office Decathlon Game by Gray Matters Games, Office Game with Olympic-Inspired Team Building & Fun Ice Breakers.

As well as the Helium Stick, the Sonyabecca Hole Tarp Team Building Exercise Activities Games Teamwork Group, the We! Connect Cards Icebreaker Questions Trust Building Games Teambuilding Activities, the KINDEN Teamwork Games Group Learning Activity Fun Playing Run Mat for Kids and Adults Field Day Game and the 2 Pcs 6 Legged Race Bands Outdoor Game Cooperative Team Race Relay Race Game for Field Day available online in 2021.

Trainers Warehouse has brought out an outstanding series of team-building ‘Thumballs.’ Take a look at the Team Dynamics Thumball Teambuilding Tool, the Getting to Know You Thumball, the Get Happy at Work Thumball, the Stress Management Thumball, the Which are You and Why? Thumball and the Shaped by Our Past Thumball Communication Game is always guaranteed to break the ice.

If your sales team is lacking in confidence and want to improve their skills and close those deals, why not buy them one of these amazing guides we found online. Just check out The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance, You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, the Unstoppable Self Confidence, The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt, and The Self Confidence Workbook all available online today.

And why not check out the Every Job Is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work, Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering the Art and Science of Getting past No, The Sales Development Framework: How to Build and Scale a Highly Productive Sales Development Program, and of course Sales Secrets: The World’s Top Salespeople Share Their Secrets to Success to get your sales team motivated.

Final Thoughts

The best games for team building are those that help create a feeling of belonging for new people, consolidate existing teams, and facilitate cooperation and team problem-solving. Games can lighten the mood and take the stress out of normally stressful situations. They can also help to foster increased interaction and foster positive working environments.

I’m going to say it – don’t think I won’t:

The team that plays together stays together…

If you’re not playing games with your team, you’re missing out on improved interpersonal relations, smoother collaboration, increased cooperation, and fun.

So rather than seeing these games as a waste of time, think of them as an investment in a stronger and more effective team.

All the very best with your Team Building Fun!

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About Calvin Miller

Calvin has over 20 years of experience in a leading employment agency in Tucson, Arizona, and is passionate about finding the perfect position for everyone who uses the companies services.

He lives with his wife, Annette, and their two sons Jake and Joseph.

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