Three Secrets of a Super-Fun Team

Three Secrets of a Super-Fun Team

Have you ever wondered what makes some teams great and some, well, duds? So have I. I’ve been on teams that work really well together and are downright a blast to be a part of. I’ve been on others where I couldn’t wait to go home at the end of the day. For many people, it may be a mixture of both fun and frustrating.

In working with a number of different teams, I’ve noticed a common thread among the ones who work really well together. There are certain characteristics that make these teams click. Lack of any of them, however, can cause any number of team dysfunctions.

Super-fun teams are good at collaboration

Fun teams work well together and have an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. If you’ve ever experienced working with people you don’t trust, you know how stifling that can be. And, it just takes one person to ruin an environment of trust.

You would think trust takes a lot of time to develop. The fact is, trust can be developed very quickly and that foundation can continue to be built upon. According to Stephen Covey, there are 13 behaviors you can us to develop what he calls “the speed of trust.”

Collaboration is a by-product of a high-trust environment. You can see this in those with whom you work. You tend to work well with those you trust and avoid those you don’t. The partnerships you seek are with people you know you can trust – for obvious reasons.

As you look at your team – how would you rate your level of collaboration?

Super-fun teams exhibit effective communication

Teams and co-workers communicate all the time. But is it effective? Have you moved forward with a project, only to find out at the end, that you weren’t given all the critical details?

When your team communicates effectively, it will increase productivity and significantly effect your bottom line, as well as overall team morale. People will feel more engaged and a critical part of the process.

What is the level of effective communication within your team?

Super-fun teams know when it’s time for celebration

I’m a part of a team that loves to celebrate. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, or a new team member comes on board or leaves, we celebrate. (And, no, we’re not celebrating the fact they’re leaving but going on to new adventures!)

The celebration usually centers around food, as well as the person we are celebrating. There is eating, laughing, conversation, eating, more laughing, sometimes singing, maybe a game or two (but not always), eating, frivolity, and did I mention eating? 🙂 Usually there is a theme, and it’s based on something that the person we’re celebrating likes.

We do our best to not talk about work (for the most part we are very successful). It’s not time to check in on business, but it is time for a party. We have lots of fun and don’t worry about work.

So, you may know these things already. The question then becomes, how do we make the above a reality? One of the best ways I know of to increase all of these is through a combination of icebreakers and team building activities.

That’s why I wrote a brand new book of these kind of exercises called, 10 Super Fun Team Icebreakers and Challenges. In it, you’ll find 10 team building activities that have never been printed anywhere else.

super fun team ebook

These are activities that I’ve spent the last few months creating and designing for teams just like yours. Whether you need better collaboration, communication, or you just want a day of celebration, these exercises will help your team, all based on the superhero theme.

You can use these activities one at a time, or you can group them together for a Super-Fun team adventure. Or do a half-day event by picking and choosing a few of the challenges. You decide.

Here’s a sneak peek at the book.

Right now, you can order the book for only $10. It not only includes the activities, but also has suggestions for how to use the book, instructions for how to facilitate each activity, and also (my personal favorite) a “Deep Dive” section where you can take the activity further and dig into the challenges even more.

If you end up buying the book and do some of the activities, please let me know. I’d love to know how it goes – send pictures, email me with how it went – who knows, maybe you and your team will even be featured on the blog or my social media accounts (with your permission, of course!)

7 Team Building Games You Can Lead with Hula Hoops

7 Team Building Games You Can Lead with Hula Hoops

If I say, “Hula Hoop,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Quick!

When you think of hula hoops, you probably don’t necessarily think of team building games. You might think of memories of elementary school PE or recess. You might think of a sibling or neighbor who used to enjoy playing with them.

As for me, a number of team activities come to mind! (Surprise, surprise.) Most of these I have experienced and led; however, some of them are new to me and a couple are adapted from other exercises that I have led.

Here are some fun and challenging team building games you can do with hula hoops. Some only require one hoop per group, but some of them require several. Make sure you’ll know how many you need before you start each activity and, as always, let me know how it goes!

7 Team Building Activities with Hula Hoops

1. Hula Hut Relay

With this activity, teams are challenged to first build a hut made from 6 hula hoops, and then they must get their hole team to pass through the hut, one at a time, until everyone has made it through.

Variations: Once team members have successfully completed the first challenge, then there are several other ways to play this game:

a. Have each person go through backwards.

b. Each team member must pass through blindfolded.

c. Once a hole or gap is used, it may not be used again.

Watch this video to see an example:

2. All Aboard

In this challenge, a team is asked to get everyone inside the hula hoop with no hand or feet touching outside the circle. Use varying sizes of hula hoops to adjust to your group size or to make it more challenging.

3. Hula Hut Tower

Similar to the hula hut challenge, the teams make a hula hut but see how high they can stack them. No one has to go through the huts, however. Tallest tower wins bragging rights.

4. Hula Pass Through

Have your group stand in a circle holding hands. This challenge is for the team to pass the hula hoop once around the circle without anyone letting go. Once the team is successful with that, have them pass two different-sized hoops around the circle in opposite directions.

Variations:

a. Add a deflated tire tube to the mix to up the difficulty.

b. Add a ball under the chin (no hand allowed) to the exercise to increase the difficulty even more!

5. Hula Crossing

Similar to a river crossing or junk yard-type challenge, you can use different-sized hula hoops to set up an exercise to move a team from one point to another. To increase the difficulty, use smaller (and fewer) hoops.

Here’s a video of a similar challenge, Hot Chocolate River Crossing:

 

6. Helium Hoop

This is a variation on the helium stick exercise. The object of this exercise is to lower the hula hoop to the ground. Sounds easy, right? This is a lot harder than it looks, and it is because of the rules.

Rule #1 – You may only use your forefingers to touch the hoop.

Rule #2 – Everyone’s fingers (both of them) must be touching the hoop at all times.

It really is a fun and amazingly hard challenge! It pushes the teams to communicate and really focus on working together.

7. Hula Crossing + All Aboard

This last one is a combination of two previous challenges. Combine them to make one extreme challenge. A group starts in one spot and must cross over to the last hoop, where everyone must get on the “island” or perish.

Push your group to use only smaller-sized hoops for both the “crossing” piece of the challenge, and the All Aboard at the end.

Make It Fun and Challenging

There are 2 great reasons to do team building activities of any kind. One is to have an enjoyable experience. The other is to move your team out of their comfort zone and learn something about themselves that can transform both individuals and groups.

The great thing about these challenges is that they are both fun and challenging. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. There may be times when you emphasize one over the other, but with these hula hoop activities, you have both enjoyment and difficulty.

Don’t Forget to Debrief

After you finish with each activity, take some time to process through each experience. You can use other activities to debrief, you can use one of many creative debrief exercises, or you can create your own using the hula hoops.

Whatever you decide to do, take your time in processing the activities. Don’t skimp out here. Many of the team’s “aha” moments will happen here, and you can also move a team into other activities based on what is revealed during the debrief process.

 

4 Free Apps to Use for Team Icebreakers

4 Free Apps to Use for Team Icebreakers

Here are some free app’s that you can use to run icebreaker activities in meetings and for special events. All of these app’s are free; although, some of them offer “Pro” or paid versions that offer even more activities or icebreaker questions.

For each app, I’ll tell you a little about the app, let you know what I like about the app but also what I think could and should be improved. I tried a total of 7 app’s. One of them I couldn’t even get to open up. It kept crashing when I tried to launch it. One of them I had to connect via a social media network, answer 10 questions, and then would not let me continue to the main part of the app. I would avoid these 2 app’s like the plague.

1. Icebreakers

Icebreakers is an app specifically designed with facilitators and team builders in mind. It is obvious that it is designed for teams to use in meetings, activities, events, etc., not only for icebreakers, but also for some team building activities.

What I like about this app:

The app includes a good number (more than you might think in a free version) of activities and icebreaker games. They are divided into different categories, as well as options to select them according to group size and situations (such as Sales Meetings, Staff Meetings, Classroom, Outdoors, etc.)

I like that this app includes an explanation of what icebreakers are, their purpose, and also directions on facilitating these, as well as encouragement to debrief these upon completion.

I also like that this app includes different variations with some of the exercises, provides a degree of physical activity (low, medium, high), and also includes how long each activity should run.

What could be improved:

Many of the icebreakers in the app are really more team building activities. Not a bad thing, but the developers might think about renaming the app since quite a few of the games are beyond simple icebreaker activities.

Visually the app could use some improvements. The way the app is designed, some of the instructions are hard to read. It seems like everything is tabbed over to the right somewhat, scrunching things up.

The most annoying thing (really the only annoying thing) about this app is the ads that keep popping up that you have to close in order to use the app.

Screenshots:

App for icebreaker games       Apps to use for icebreaker games 2

Overall recommendation: Of the app’s I reviewed, I would say that this one is definitely worth getting.

Click here to get this app.

2. Let’s Talk

Although this app is not designed for the specific purpose of building teams, the questions in the app can be used as such. This app wouldn’t be the most versatile of these free app’s, but it could be a good place to start in your coworkers getting to know each other.

What I like about this app:

In the free version, there are 4 different categories (there are 9 in the paid version.) Each category has questions that you can scroll through and ask members of your team.

You can also click on a small heart at the bottom of the screen to tag questions as “favorites”. This would be helpful for a facilitator to go through these ahead of time and tag questions they would use to facilitate a group discussion.

The app allows you to go forward and backwards through the questions (not all app’s listed here allow you to go back to a previous question).

What could be improved:

The categories are limited, as are the questions that you get in the free version. Usability is ok, but this app is very simplistic in both design and functionality. Again, it’s not designed for the purpose of icebreaker games, but it is designed to stimulate discussion (whether on a date or with friends or family). That being said, it would be nice to be able to choose questions based on different categories, not just your situation (small group, date, etc.)

Screenshots:

Apps use for icebreaker activities        Apps used for icebreaker activities 2

 

Overall recommendation: Even with its limitations, this could be a good app to use to start discussion among team members. Just remember, the categories are very limited.

Click here to get this app.

3. Icebreakers – Meetings

This is another app specifically created to lead icebreaker activities for your group or team. This app is focused on different categories of icebreaker questions. There are not icebreaker activities in this one, just questions.

What I like about this app:

There are 12 different categories of icebreaker questions to choose from in this app. I like the variety of subjects that you can pick from. The categories include:

Professional Experience
Leadership
Job History
Project Experience
Television
School
Personal/Family
Change
Future
Childhood
Spare Time
Hobbies

That’s a significant number of categories for the free version. Kudos to the developers for that. Having different categories allows you to get to know a person on a deep level (say if you included the Personal/Family and Childhood category) or on a professional level, with questions pertaining to Job History and Leadership.

What could be improved:

The app only takes you through different icebreaker questions. It would be nice for other icebreaker games to be included in this app, if only a limited number in the free version.

Icebreakers are more than just questions. You can learn all kinds of things about people by having fun and doing different kinds of activities beyond just asking questions.

The questions also seem to repeat themselves quite often within each category, regardless of which category you choose. Not sure if more questions need to be added, or the way that the app selects the questions need to be modified.

Overall Recommendation:

If you are merely looking for icebreaker questions, this app is great. If you are looking for more than just icebreaker questions, you might want to keep looking.

Click here to get this app.

4. Wealthy Walrus

This app is another one that’s not designed specifically for icebreaker games, but you could certainly use this to get to know your team mates better.

What I like about this app:

I like the creative premise behind the app:

A wealthy walrus has plenty of money to give out, but you must do certain things in order to earn that amount.

For example,

For $14 million,

“Would you press a button that blows up an uninhabited planet outside of our solar system?”

You then answer Yes or No, and it shows you the percentage of people that have chosen each answer. Some are quite surprising!

What could be improved:

Again, it’s not made specifically for the purpose that we are talking about; however, there are a limited number of questions, and every so often, a pop-up displays asking you to buy more questions (which several additional question packages are available for $0.99 each)

Overall recommendation:

This would be a great app for a creative way to get to know your group. It is pretty limited in its scope, but you can also upgrade to expand the questions. For a simple icebreaker game, though, the free version would be just fine.

Click here to get this app.

All in all, these are a few apps that you could use as icebreakers for your team. My top pick is the first one, simply called Icebreakers. Surprisingly (or maybe not) there are very few apps to choose from in this subject area. It might just be time to create one! 🙂

What apps have you used to foster discussion in your group? What other recommendations do you have for apps to use for icebreakers?

[photo credit Nicola via Flickr]

A Team Building Activity Adapted from The Biggest Loser

A Team Building Activity Adapted from The Biggest Loser

I’m always looking for new ideas for team building activities. Last night, I was watching The Biggest Loser with my family. We find the show very uplifting and encouraging. One of the activities they did inspired an idea for a team building activity that I want to share with you.

The participants had been on a hike together, and at the peak of their hike, the trainers gave them what looked like a small, folded piece of paper. However, inside of the paper was a butterfly. They were to answer the question, “What is your intention for the remainder of your time here?”

After everyone had shared, they opened up their folder paper, and released a butterfly, symbolizing both their journey of transformation and what their part was going to be in that process until the end.

Ways to Use This Team Building Activity

There are several scenarios where you could use this kind of activity:

  1. Launching a new project and using this with project managers or team  leaders.
  2. In the middle of a project that is heading in the wrong direction. Use it to help re-direct both staff and leaders.
  3. At the end of a project to celebrate accomplishments and talk about what’s next on the horizon.
  4. Taking your team to a new level of trust and authenticity.

How to Set Up This Team Activity

Set up for this activity will be relatively easy. I don’t think you necessarily need to have butterflies folded up in paper pouches; although, if you could pull that off, it would be impressive. (If you live near a Butterfly Pavilion, Nature Center or Botanical Gardens, it might be worth a call to see what’s possible.)

Decide what end result you want to achieve. I talk a lot about setting goals and being intentional about team building activities. To get the most out of them, you have to think about what results you want to achieve. Learn more here.

Begin with a hike or some kind of team activity that isn’t competitive and will focus on change and transformation. You can check out Playmeo for a great database of activities.

At the end of the hike, ask the question (you will need to tweak the question depending on how you want to use the activity):

As we’re looking at this new project, what will be your primary intention you will focus on?

Allow ample time for responses. Encourage everyone to share (but we follow the rule of challenge by choice). After everyone has shared, release the butterflies (or other item – see below for modifications).

Debriefing the Activity

Talk about what people have shared and their commitment to the team and project and that part of the responsibility of the team is to hold each other accountable to our intentions and goals.

[You could also combine this activity with a time of goal-setting and looking at ways to hold the team accountable to goals and intentions.]

Ways to Modify This Activity

Knowing that everyone might not have access to butterflies, here are a few ways that this activity could be modified to use:

  1. Instead of butterflies, you could use helium-filled balloons and release them at the proper time. Talk about ways for the groups intentions to stay on track and not become “deflated” (see what I did there.)
  2. You could do this activity at night and use Chinese lanterns. Light them and release them to symbolize the group’s intentions being shared with everyone.
  3. If you are talking about a project NOT going well, you could ask your team to write on pieces of paper things that are not working well, and at the end of the sharing time, you burn the pieces of paper, symbolizing you are letting go of old ways and then brainstorm of ways to get the project back on track.

How else you use an activity like this for your team? What other ways can you modify it to suit your needs?

My First eBook and Conquering Fear

My First eBook and Conquering Fear

Well, today is the first official day of the launch of my eBook, 4 Steps to Choosing the Best Team Building Activities. It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve learned a lot not only about the eBook process, but also about stepping out in the midst of fear.

You wouldn’t think that writing and publishing a relatively brief eBook would be that big of a deal. It’s taken a while for me to complete the book, not necessarily because of the content, but because of the doubts and fears that seem to pause me in my journey along the way.

I want to encourage anyone who is thinking of writing (whatever form that takes) to begin and push through. Simply going through the process has been worth it for me. Regardless of the outcome. The goal of the book is not to make a ton of money, but to get it out, to push past the fear and uncertainty, and to produce and release something that will help others, and that I can be proud of.

Who is the book for?

The book is written for leaders and managers who want to know how to choose and implement the best team building activities for their group. Leading your team through an activity is not enough. There is a process to truly finding and facilitating effective team building.

This book is for those leaders who want to get the most out of these kinds of exercises, and not only lead their team through them, but also transform their team in the process. By following the steps in this book, a facilitator can learn the process by which teams are not only improved but changed for the better.

What is the book about?

First, this book will teach you first about the different types of team building activities. In order to lead these kinds of activities effectively, it helps to first understand the differences between group initiatives vs. low ropes courses elements and several other distinctive activities.

It then lays out a simple 4-step process for choosing the best team building activities. It’s not complicated, although it does require the facilitator to be intentional about each step in this strategy.

It is the exact process I use when working with teams and facilitators.

Whether a half-day program, or multi-day event, this book will help the reader in several areas:

  • How to select the right exercises to boost team productivity, trust,         communication, and more!
  • Feel confident you’ve chosen activities your team will enjoy and benefit from
  • Achieve your team’s goals and objectives.

Why did I write this book?

There are a number of team building resources on the web, but there are only a few really excellent ones. My goal with this site and the books and resources that I develop is to create high-quality resources and training for those who want to learn how to facilitate and lead only the most effective team building activities. This is the first of those resources.

I hope you enjoy the book and learn a lot!

best team building activities cover

To order a copy of the book click here.

What did you think of the book? Leave your comments below.