Whether you have a new team, new team members, or an established team, trust is one of the most critical and fundamental issues you need to establish within the group.  It is one of the critical skills that top teams possess. Relationship building exercises can help to establish trust by helping your team get to know one another and build on the relationships that are already there.

These 5 simple exercises can be used by themselves or you can imbed these exercises in part of a larger event or team building day to work on building trust or increasing trust with your team.

1.  The Question Ball

Take a medium-sized beach ball and write 10-12 questions on it.  Form a circle with your team and the leader will pass the ball to someone.  When the person catches it, they must answer the question closest to their right thumb (no pivoting the ball if you don’t like the question!)  Pass the ball around the circle until everyone has answered at least one question.  Feel free to repeat!

Sample questions:

  • What is your favorite place to eat?
  • What is your favorite movie?
  • Where do you like to go for vacation?
  • What is your favorite book/author?
  • What’s the most unique thing in your office

Here’s a list of 25 Questions from a recent article in Inc. Magazine that I saw recently you can use for this game.

2. M&M Game

Divide your team into groups of 4-5.  Pass a bag of M&M’s around each group and tell each person to “take as much as you need.”  That’s all you will tell them.  If they ask, just repeat the instruction.

Once everyone has gotten some M&M’s, tell them they will go around the circle and tell the other members of the group one unique thing about themselves for every M&M they took.

Have group members continue until all M&M’s are gone.  Switch up the groups and do it again.

3.  Passing Trains

This activity requires a little bit of preparation.  You need to prepare envelopes that have the following questions in them, and the number of envelopes should equal half of your group size.  (i.e., if you have a group of 20 people, you need 10 envelopes that include all of the questions.)

  • What’s the strangest talent you have?
  • What is your strangest fear or phobia?
  • What are 3 things still left on your bucket list? OR
  • What are 2 things that you have crossed off your bucket list?
  • Choose a movie title for the story of your life.
  • If there was a movie about your life, what actor would you want to play you?

Here’s a post that has a list of 45 Questions from LifeHack that you can use to pull more or different questions in to this exercise.

Set up 2 rows of chairs.  The rows of chairs should be side by side facing in opposite directions so that when people sit in the they will be sitting in rows – half of the team all facing one direction (one behind the other – not side by side) in a row and the other half facing the opposite way in a row (picture trains passing by each other with the caboose of one at the engine of the other.)

Give one row a set of envelopes.  This group will stay put and ask the questions.  The other group will move forward one chair (the person in the very first chair will move to the back at the end of each round.)

Each round lasts 2 minutes and the group with the questions can ask as many questions as possible in the allotted time.  Once the round is over, the row of moving people move forward one and time starts over.

The activity is over when the people who are moving end up at the same spot that they started.  Now, have the group share interesting facts that they learned about each other during the activity.  If you have time, you can switch and have the people who moved asked the questions and get the other side to move.

4.  Pair-Share

Pair your group members up and have them sit face-to-face.  Have them pick a Person “A” and a Person “B”.  When you tell them to begin, Person A will start and have 60 seconds to answer a question.  During the 60 seconds, Person B should just sit and listen.

At the end of the 60 seconds, Person B will summarize what they heard Person A share.  Then, Person B will spend 60 seconds answering the same question and Person A will just listen.  At the end, Person A will spend 30 seconds reflecting back what they heard Person b share.

Have the pairs switch and go another round.  Do as many rounds as you have time for.

Potential questions:

What is one of your most significant accomplishments?

Who is someone who has made a big impact on your life?

if you could go back and change one thing in your life, what would it be?

Here’s another list of 50 Questions that you could choose from for this activity.

5.  The Greatness I See in You…

This is an incredibly powerful activity; however, I wouldn’t just jump into this one without at least doing 2 or 3 other activities beforehand.  It can be a highly emotional activity and can also be a barrier-breaker in teams.

Have your group form a “U” with their chairs and leave space for someone to stand at the end.  Team members will take turns standing in the open part of the U and allow team members to compliment them using one word to complete the sentence, “The greatness I see in you is boldness.”

Participants go as they think of an encouraging word.  Team members can go more than once in complimenting their team mates.  Give each team member ample time to be encouraged in the circle.  Usually 1-2 minutes is enough.  Just be sure that you allow equitable time for all team members.

(A great thing to do for people is to have someone write down all the responses on a piece of paper and save it for a rainy day.)

What other activities have you done to get to know your team mates?  What’s worked for you?  Let me know in the comments below and share if this has been helpful to you!  Thanks!

Image credit Bigstock Photo, Wavebreak Media Ltd