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Easy team building activities at the start of a new project help break the ice among team members and create a positive group atmosphere. It removes social barriers to allow people to get to know one another and promotes interpersonal relationships that have a positive effect on group dynamics. It also energize and motivate team members, and provides them with an opportunity to think “outside the work" which would benefit in work settings as well.
Two popular simple team building activities involving physical activities and outdoor challenges include the rope challenge course and the amoeba race. For teams looking at easy mental and indoor activities, the design game, road map game, and egg drop challenge stand out from the many options.
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Rope Challenge Course
The ropes challenge courses consists of a series of obstacles that team members need to work together to overcome. It usually consists of easy low elements that take place near the ground, and the more challenging high elements that take place across trees and poles.
The rope course provides fun and entertainment, and assists team development at the same time. It expands the team members level of comfort, highlights the value of interdependence, and promotes concepts such as exploring and sharing risks; building trust, leadership, and communication, especially among remote workers; and cultivating problem-solving in a collaborative environment. Individual team members also get to discover their innate talents and underlying fears.
Important considerations for a rope challenge course are ensuring adequate safety precautions, and a trained instructor to ensure that the activity meets its desired objectives of team bonding.
The Boy Scouts of America has a Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience (Project COPE) course that serves as a good reference point to structure this activity.
Image Credit: flickr.com/Stephane Tougard
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The Amoeba race is a fun game that emphasizes physical activity, and much simpler to organize than the rope challenge.
The Amoeba race, as the name implies takes the basic concept of a cell. The team members divide into three, replicating a cell protoplasm, cell wall, and nucleus. The group of protoplasm sticks close to each other and moves. The cell wall consists of people who surround the protoplasm group, facing outward, linking elbows. The nucleus is someone who sits on the shoulder of some of the protoplasm, and directs the group.
The challenge lies in moving across a field or corridor while retaining this structure.
Formation of two or more such amoebas results in an amoeba race.
This exercise promotes cooperation and synchronization among team members. This game however also requires close physical interaction with the team members, which not all members may fancy.
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One simple team building exercise that does not require any arrangements, infrastructure, or qualified facilitators is the design game.
This game requires grouping members to makes a logo or any other design with coins, pens, pencils, notebooks, and other objects they have at their disposal.
Another variant is providing a sheet of paper to construct the tallest freestanding structure among all groups in five minutes, using no other materials.
The design game provides team members opportunity to apply their creativity. Team members discussing various ideas with one another before reaching a conclusion, and sharing tasks fosters a collaborative environment. This exercise also teaches the importance of planning, timing, and thinking on the feet, besides increasing self and mutual awareness among team members.
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Road Map Game
The Road Map game is another of the easy team building activities that requires splitting the participants into groups
The game entails giving each group an identical map of a state or an area and having each plan a vacation within the given guidelines such as budget, type of vehicle, start and end point, and other considerations. The objective is to prepare a travel plan that best utilizes the budget, time, and other resources available.
This exercise involves planning in a group setting, promotes group communication, and allows team members to know one another better.
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Egg Drop Challenge
The egg drop challenge is a classic problem solving exercise, and another simple team building exercise. This exercise again requires splitting the participants into groups, and requires the team to utilize the given tools to build an egg package that sustains an eight-foot drop. Each team also has to make a small presentation for the package, highlight the unique feature and explain its working. Each group then drops the eggs using the package to test for its effectiveness.
This game brings the group together for a common purpose, and promotes working together and communication.
Irrespective of the easy team building activities chosen, the success of team building activities for project managers and their teams depends on careful structuring and attention to detail from the management side, and commitment and enthusiasm from the participant side.