In any field, a successful team turns disadvantages into advantages. These groups understand each other, their passions and fears, and how to bring out one another’s best.
How do you do that with a new team? Or a team that isn’t functioning as well as it could? How do you help the team thrive despite individual experiences and personalities? Could your great team get even better?
Here are three dynamic icebreakers that we use in our teambuilding work. No matter how long a corporate or sports team has been together, these 3 exercises help team members bond and become better together.
Team Icebreaker 1: Hopes and Fears
This activity will help take the pulse of your team, to better understand what gets them motivated and what worries them. By revealing fears in a non-threatening way, the team can discuss these potential barriers. It’s a great exercise for teams with new members or a team preparing to take on a new challenge.
You will need two colors of sticky notes. Each team member gets one sticky note of the first color. Ask the team to write down his or her greatest hope (for this year, this project, this quarter, this season, etc.)
Distribute the second color of sticky notes with the instruction to each individual to write down the greatest fear (for this year, this project, this quarter, this season, etc.)
Crumple up the sticky notes. On a count of three, everyone throws their crumpled notes to the center of the group. Then everyone collects one note of each color.
Read all the hopes first, then all the fears.
Hopes and fears are so important for team members to understand. It’s part of what I call 360-degree Awareness. Sharing hopes and dreams is part of being prepared, and will help you anticipate the inevitable ebbs and flows of working together in pursuit of a goal. Understanding what team members are excited about and worried about will help you tap into those motivations and tackle those fears.
Team Icebreaker 2: Personality Trading Cards
The idea in this game is to build self-awareness and explore personality types of team members. It’s good for groups that have worked together and desire a deeper connection.
With a stack of index cards, allow for four cards per person and extras for the “bank.” One each card, write a personality trait (curious, humble, decisive, reserved, ambitious, empowering, etc.)
Deal four cards to each person and ask them to order the cards by relevance (most accurate trait at the top, least at the bottom).
Now give them 10 minutes to trade cards with each other. The goal is to have four cards that describe you the best. Each person must have four cards at all times.
Final step: Allow them to switch out a single card with one from the “bank.”
Bring the team together, and each person reveals the three cards that best describe him or her. Prompt them to give examples of how the trait shows up in their lives. Encourage feedback from other team members.
This is a fun, lighthearted exercise that can reveal some powerful insights into team member’s personalities.
Team Icebreaker 3: Lifeline
This icebreaker helps a team understand each member’s personal histories and deepens connection between team members. It’s good for teams that have built a strong foundation of trust.
You will need poster boards (or large sheets of paper) and markers.
Each participant draws a timeline marking significant events that explain how he or she got to this point in time. (Don’t worry, it’s not a Picasso). We call this a Lifeline, and it helps to have an example, perhaps from the team’s leader.
The Lifeline shows significant life events and turning points, marking highs and lows, significant life events, turning points, etc. Indicate peaks and dips.
The team takes turns sharing Lifelines. Prompt each member to examine how they moved through and learned from their peaks and valleys.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Icebreakers can be strategic activities for new teams to get to know each other better, for existing teams to work better together and for great teams to gain even more understanding of how each member works. Building trust and understanding is key for every team, and you can get there with team icebreakers like these.
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