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Best Team Building Activities to Improve Employee Communication

by | Jan 2, 2024

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Ever wondered what sets a high-performing team apart from the rest? Imagine you could transform a group of individuals into a powerhouse team, achieving extraordinary results through amplified collaboration. 

Now, picture enhancing this power through effective communication and strategic team-building. But, pause. Before you jump into your next team-building activity, ask yourself: Are your efforts in sync with your business goals? Let’s unravel the connection between impactful communication, dynamic teamwork, and the game-changing Whole Brain® Thinking model.

Why is team building important?

Team building isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the bedrock of success. Every manager knows united teams wield exponential power, their collaboration a force multiplier compared to solo efforts. But what’s the crucial bond that holds a great team together? Effective communication. 

The Role of Effective Workplace Communication in Team Building

With many different personalities and different thinking preferences present in every workplace, it’s only normal for tensions to sometimes arise. Dealing with these misunderstandings or conflicts can halt your team’s productivity. It’s a common challenge, especially when forging new team bonds or tackling complex issues.

This is where effective communication is essential. It acts as the guiding force that helps you navigate the maze of workplace dynamics. Imagine a world where managers express intentions with crystal clarity, and employees not only listen but genuinely connect. 

This isn’t just about convenience; it’s the linchpin for job satisfaction, heightened productivity, and retaining top talent. Let’s dissect the core of effective workplace communication and unveil why it’s the key to unlocking your team’s collaborative potential.

The Benefits of Effective Communication

Good communication lies at the heart of effective workplaces, trusting relationships, and the freedom to think big. Learn more about the benefits of communication and how it can show up in your team. 

1. Improved Productivity and Performance:

Open and free communication allows for the swift exchange of ideas and information, enhancing task efficiency. Understanding colleagues’ thinking styles fosters improved team performance.

2. Reduced Workplace Conflict:

Effective communication empowers team members to have more direct, open, and honest conversations. This, in turn, leads team members to feel more comfortable to raise important issues or constructive feedback, addressing conflicts proactively and fostering a collaborative environment. Because team members can solve problems and misunderstandings by communicating and finding common ground, employees are less worried about “winning” the conversation and instead remove conflict.

3. Improved Decision-Making:

Effective communication ensures that teams have all the information they need for informed decision-making. This is because when team members feel they can express their opinions freely, they are more likely to speak up — leading to well-rounded and full-informed decisions.

4. Stronger Relationships:

Trust, mutual respect, and understanding, built on good communication, form the foundation for strong working relationships. When all of these elements are present, employees are more likely to express their opinions and ideas, enhancing collaboration and shared achievements.

4 Great Team-Building Activities for the Workplace

Building strong team communication isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Even the most effective strategies take time and commitment from everyone involved. Team-building activities can be a powerful tool to fuel this journey, and here are four popular options to consider.

1. The Elephant List

Ever felt like there’s a giant elephant walking around the office, but nobody’s talking about it? That’s where The Elephant List comes in, a team-building activity designed to help teams tackle those unspoken, potentially taboo topics head-on. It’s time to clear the air and foster a more candid, collaborative work environment.

Here’s how it works:

1. Anonymity is key:

  • In-person: Grab some sticky notes and pens. For five minutes, everyone writes down their “elephant” – any workplace concern they hesitate to voice openly.
  • Remote teams: Utilise a shared spreadsheet like Google Sheets. Keep it anonymous!

2. The unmasking:

  • The designated “Elephant Tamer” (aka activity leader) collects all responses.
  • Fear not, team members! Responses are shared anonymously, creating a safe space for open dialogue.

3. Finding solutions:

  • Time to address the elephants! Discuss the most pressing concerns, brainstorm potential solutions, and determine if immediate action is possible.

The Elephant List’s magic lies in its ability to:
  • Surface hidden issues: This activity gives voice to concerns often swept under the rug, fostering a more transparent and understanding workplace.
  • Spark honest dialogue: Anonymity removes the fear of judgement, encouraging open communication and constructive feedback.
  • Build trust and collaboration: Working together to tackle “elephants” strengthens team bonds and empowers everyone to contribute to positive change.

Remember: The Elephant List isn’t about finger-pointing or blame. It’s about creating a safe space for open communication and working together towards a more positive, productive work environment. So, gather your team, grab some sticky notes, and get ready to tame those workplace elephants!

2. Word Association

Looking for a way to easily spark collaboration amongst your team mates? Word association games can be a great solution. This simple yet powerful activity has the ability to unlock a treasure trove of insights about your teammates’ experiences and perspectives, all while fueling the spirit of teamwork.

Steps for word association team building activity:

1. Team Up: Divide your team mates into groups, each with a designated “word whisperer” to guide the journey.

2. Have a pen at the ready: Arm everyone with a pen and paper (or digital notepads for those working remote) to write down or type the words.

3. Get writing: The word whisperer reads words aloud to the group for 5-10 minutes, while every other group member writes down the first thing that comes to mind when they hear each word.

4. Share your thoughts: Now comes the fun part – Each group member reveals their association for each word, sparking lively discussions about the “why” behind their choices.

Word association game benefits:
  • Boosts empathy: Step into your teammates’ shoes as you discover their unique connections to words.
  • Increased creativity: Wordplay games can ignite unexpected ideas, leading to groundbreaking solutions.
  • Collaboration amplified: Discussing your associations strengthens communication and fosters a sense of shared purpose.

Word association games are your gateway to deeper understanding, stronger collaboration, and ultimately, a team that truly thinks as one.

3. Blind Drawing

In this activity, one person channels their inner artist while relying solely on their teammates’ instructions to recreate a hidden image. It’s a fun way to test your communication clarity, embrace creative interpretation, and see how well you work together, even remotely.

Get ready to play:

  1. Gather your materials: The facilitator prepares a list of photos (choose something lighthearted and visually interesting).
  2. Form your teams: Divide your teammates or colleagues into small groups of 2-5 people.
  3. Blindfold the artist: Each team selects a player to be the blind artist. Blindfold them to ensure they can’t see the chosen image.
  4. Unleash the creativity: Only the other team members can see the image. Their task is to provide clear and concise instructions, guiding the blind artist’s hand to recreate the image as accurately as possible.
  5. Time’s up! After a set time limit, call time and reveal the drawings.
  6. Share and reflect: Discuss the results within each team. How well did the instructions translate? Where did creativity shine through? This open dialogue fosters trust and understanding.

What are the benefits of this team building activity?
  • Communication enhancement: Teams practice giving clear and concise instructions to their teammates.
  • Strengthens trust: The artist must trust accurate guidance from the team and debriefing at the end encourages honest feedback.
  • Boosts creativity: Teams find unique ways to describe the image to be drawn, fostering creativity through overcoming challenges.

This activity is a simple yet effective way to strengthen team bonds and communication skills.

4. Card Pieces

This activity is perfect for small groups and fosters a potent blend of collaboration, visual thinking, and strategic bargaining.

Get ready to play:

  1. Prepare the puzzle pieces: Gather a deck of cards that you don’t mind damaging. Cut each card diagonally, then again, to create four unique pieces.
  2. Shuffle and distribute: Divide the pieces into envelopes, ensuring they’re shuffled before reaching each team.
  3. Race against the clock: Teams have a set time to assemble their cards back into their original forms. Time to put on your detective hats!
  4. Negotiation time: Encourage friendly bartering between teams until the cards have reformed into their original compositions. Hone your deal-making skills to complete your puzzle.
  5. Time’s up! When time expires, the team with the most complete cards wins.

Benefits of the card pieces challenge:
  • Empathy boost: Teams learn to “walk in each other’s shoes” as they decipher clues and collaborate.
  • Visual thinking and problem-solving: Teams must analyse the pieces to reconstruct the whole.
  • Collaboration and communication: Working together efficiently is key to puzzle completion.
  • Team culture: A playful activity that breaks the ice and fosters team spirit.

How to Introduce Team-Building Activities With Whole Brain® Thinking

The Whole Brain® Thinking model, comprising Analytical (Blue), Structural (Green), Relational (Red), and Experimental (Yellow) quadrants, offers insights into thinking preferences.

Understanding your team’s Whole Brain® Thinking profiles guides the selection of team-building activities that will have the greatest effect. The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®) Assessment provides individual profiles, enabling intentional interactions, informed by each members’ of the team’s thinking preferences and style.

For instance, starting with activities aligned with the team’s dominant thinking preferences enhances engagement. Integrating Whole Brain® Thinking ensures activities suit the team’s size, composition, and working environment, whether in-person, remote, or hybrid.

Are Team Building Activities Effective?

To maximise the impact of your team-building activities, craft a winning strategy from the start. This means designing clear, measurable goals for each activity, like ‘boosting communication by 20% through collaborative problem-solving exercises’. Share these goals with your team before launch, and actively engage them in the process. 

After the activity, don’t leave the results to chance. Gather feedback through group discussions or individual assessments, then analyse the data to see if your goals were met. This valuable insight will guide you in refining future activities, ensuring your team building efforts hit the mark every time.

Best Practices for Hosting Team Building Activities and Measuring Your Results

1. Set Measurable Goals:

Define clear goals for activities, focusing on specific outcomes to improve communication, trust, or conflict resolution.

2. Align Team Members on Goals and Contributions:

Ensure everyone understands the goals and individual contributions to the team’s success.

3. Follow Up After the Activity:

Conduct debriefing sessions to allow reflection and discussion of lessons learned. Determine action steps for implementing newfound knowledge.

How Team Building Improves Work Culture

Investing time and energy in team-building activities aligned with effective communication principles unlocks the potential of teams, fostering stronger relationships and a shared sense of purpose. These activities build trust and understanding, enabling teams to work through conflicts, think more effectively, and achieve better outcomes. Elevate your team’s communication skills through purposeful team-building exercises that prepare them for success.

If you want to learn more about how Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® can help you and your organisation, have a look at how it works here or get in touch and we’ll help you find the right solution.

Get the full whitepaper for improving your team productivity below – the answer is not just free coffee!

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