Proper teamwork is essential in the workplace. Without respect, trust, and team bonding, efficient collaboration or communication cannot take place. In order to build this group dynamic in the office, there are numerous tools, techniques, and activities you can implement to improve your team’s development.

Any team development initiative should first start with a thorough needs assessment. Once you’ve determined the needs, you can dig deeper into the skills needing development, selecting games and activities that mimic real-life challenges. By using games and situations that are not real life, team leaders and managers can create safe environments to make mistakes or try out new skills. Then, during a debrief of the experience, facilitators can encourage the group to reflect on practices that yielded successful outcomes. Finally, skilled team leaders will draw out learning and apply those lessons to workplace challenges with well-facilitated conversations.

Your Team Health Check-Up

Assessing your team’s requirements is not just an analysis of where the group is in terms of the Tuckman model – Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing. Rather, a full assessment calls for understanding the team’s collective strengths and weaknesses. As a team, consider how the organization supports the team, your group output, effectiveness, leadership, individual contributions, team infrastructure, and communication.

Seek Games and Activities that Meet the Goal

Armed with an understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, you can begin the search for team-building activities, resources, and experiences that will target those needs. If you need to build camaraderie, for instance, you might look to schedule a chocolate-tasting gathering, work on a community service project, or — if you want to go all out and have the budget to do so — go on a cruise retreat

On the other hand, if your group is misaligned on goals or collaboration techniques, you might be better off with an experience that will challenge those skills.

  • Colourblind: to focus on clear communication
  • Structure Building: to focus on role definition and expectations
  • Seeing the Point: to focus on assumptions
  • Marshmallow Challenge: to practice creativity and collaboration
  • Escape Rooms: to help groups utilize the unique capabilities of different team members

Have the “Right” Conversations

Whether selecting conversation prompts for team planning meetings, or follow-ups to a team-building game, the questions and discussion topics should be carefully chosen.

Exploring Team Dynamics  

In developing the prompts for the Trainers Warehouse Team Dynamics Thumball, for instance, the team gave great consideration to phraseology. To address the topic of team members who may not be contributing equally, you wouldn’t want to ask, “Who isn’t pulling their weight?” Instead, you could explore “What could a team do if they thought someone wasn’t pulling their weight?” 

Or you could pull some of the other prompts from the Team Dynamics Thumball and ask: How do we check that we are working toward the same goal? How might we show appreciation for good work done? How can we make our meetings more positive and productive? Is our team good at solving problems? Do we share our own weaknesses with each other? Why? How can we inspire each other to achieve our goals? These are all questions that can turn a negative aspect in the group into a positive and constructive mindset.

Debriefing Team Building Games

The trick here is to keep questions brief and open-ended. A favorite debriefing format is WHAT? SO WHAT? NOW WHAT? construct. Following this rubric, you might start with questions that help the group develop a common understanding of what happened, asking: What strategies were used? What worked well? How did it feel? What would you do differently if you were to do it again? 

A second question would focus on the importance of learning that came from the experience. So what? Why are our observations important? Finally, facilitators would ask, Now What? How can we apply what we learned to our real-life situations?

1-2-3 Team Building

To improve teamwork skills in the workplace, teams need to take three purposeful steps. First, they’ll assess their needs. Second, they’ll find experiences, games, and activities that will allow them to practice the skills in a safe place. Third, they will have honest and productive conversations to translate the learning into meaningful action. Trainers Warehouse has tons of tools and tips for each step in the team development process, as well as innovative resources to make training fun, engaging, and effective.