In a small business, every employee is a key employee. Because you have a smaller team, the need for mutual respect and understanding is vital to the success of your company. Unfortunately, getting your employees to bond can be a challenge. Every member of the team has their own needs and goals – finding a common ground is no easy task.

Relying on the standard company picnic may not be enough to hash out communication issues and strengthen the bond within your team. Here are three easy team building exercises you can use to increase employee performance overall in your business.

#1: Volunteer Together

This can be a win-win all around. A team activity with a focus on supporting the community can help to bring your diverse team together. It can also help you identify the leaders in your organization.

Make sure that you include everyone in the planning process for maximum impact. Ask your employees to send in ideas for volunteer opportunities. Then, hold a vote. This will help your team to feel like their values matter to you as an employer.

#2: Brainstorming

Whether you’re starting out on a new client project, or if you’re just looking for ways to improve your business practices – brainstorming can be a great way to build your team. Gather all of your pertinent employees together and set some parameters that encourages open-minded and positive thinking:

– Ban negative statements like “That will never work” or “That is impossible”
– Ban “disclaimers” like “I haven’t really thought this through..” or “I’m not sure if this will work, but…”
– Set a time limit: 15 minutes of free brainstorming.
– Give everyone a chance to speak by going around the room, person by person.
– Use encouraging words to reinforce desired behaviors. “I love it” or “Let’s try it” are both good options.
– Write down ALL of the ideas. Assign different team members to explore the ideas that make the “cut.”

#3: Problem Solving Games

Everyone needs a little fun now and then, right? Problem solving games are a great way to give your employees a break, while still honing their skills as a team. Here are a few to try:

Back-to-Back Drawing: Give one player a picture of a random shape, and another player a blank piece of paper and a pen. Have the first player describe the shape to help the second player recreate the picture. This helps to identify communication issues, and promote unity.

Picture Puzzle: Take a picture, and cut it into puzzle pieces. Give each member of your team one of the pieces, and tell them to recreate the piece five times the original size. Then, bring everyone back together to put all the pieces together. This teaches team members that the work that they do as individuals has a powerful impact on the team as a whole.

Egg Drop: An old classic! Split your employees into teams and instruct them to design and build a packaging that will keep an egg from cracking when dropped from the roof/balcony/etc. This helps to promote collaboration and open communication.

What team building activities have worked in your business?

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