Team Building Ice Breakers
Team building is one of the essential activities in today’s interconnected, team-dependent organizational structure. But while the use of teams can be the most effective way to accomplish projects that require myriad talents and skills, it can also mean slower decision making, conflicting viewpoints and personalities, and a more complex approach to even simple problems.
One of the ways to enhance interaction within your team is using team building ice breakers at the beginning of the team’s formation (or when a new team member is added to the group). Ice breakers are typically games or activities meant to decrease individuals’ discomfort when meeting new people by giving them a structure in which they can get to know each other. This is especially important for teams, because when team members are more comfortable with each other and have together accomplished some task—usually trivial and enjoyable—interactions between them will be easier as the stakes increase or deadlines approach. Ice breakers can essentially fast-track the team’s learning curve when it comes to team members’ personalities, communication styles, and more.
One example of a team building ice breaker can be found here: http://www.cppblogcentral.com/cpp-connect/tennis-balls-hula-hoops-conflict-modes/. While this example is specifically meant to reinforce conflict management and behavioral awareness, it’s the perfect activity to break the ice when the whole team is new (as opposed to adding one new team member).
Team Building Questions
When the team has been working together for a period of time and a new team member is added, it could be beneficial to ask team building questions—for example, “How would you describe your ideal vacation?” Having a common structure that the entire team can relate to with a common language, such as the MBTI® assessment, can be especially helpful when asking team building questions. Questions and many other examples of team building MBTI applications can be found in the Introduction to Type® and Teams booklet.
Team building questions like the one above will often showcase a particular MBTI preference pair. In this instance, the Judging and Perceiving preferences are often illustrated. The answers of those who prefer Judging will often include mention of planning, schedules, and “making the most of my time.” On the other hand, those with a preference for Perceiving will often include mention of wanting free time, preferring not to schedule things every day, and leaving room for spontaneity.
Other team building question examples could be:
- If you were a kitchen appliance or implement, what would you be, and why?
- What are three things that no one in this room knows about you?
- When you were a child, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
The point of team building questions is to establish a connection between team members by having different members of the team talk to and listen to each other, share things about themselves that may not relate directly to their job or involvement with the team, or demonstrate differences in thought processes or how they approach questions. For example, in the case of question 1, is the answer humorous or straightforward? Why did the person choose the object that he or she did? Was the object utilitarian? Questions such as these can seem trivial, but their goal is to focus on helping team members open up to other members and ideally build a stronger, better-communicating team.