Read an Excerpt
This book is a sequel to Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers. Like that one, this book is written for the busy manager who wants to add an element of team-building to a meeting. There are 50 more activities here, and you can expect them to be the same type and quality as before, with one significant bonus:
New for this volume are helpful hints for virtual teams. More and more teams are dispersed geographically. Team-building becomes difficult when members are not physically together. Some teams have members who never meet each other face to face. At the end of each activity is a suggestion or two on how to adjust it for a virtual team. I've included tips for conference calls, videoconferences, Internet meetings, and more.
All activities take less than 15 minutes. Busy managers and their staffs do not have hours and hours to spend working on their team. They need activities that are quick and to the point. You can conduct each activity in this book and discuss its meaning in less than 15 minutes.
Can you really get results in 15 minutes? Yes, as long as your expectations are realistic. You will not resolve long-standing issues, major personality conflicts, or deeply embedded obstacles. What will happen is that important team issues will be highlighted so you and others can see them more clearly. Seeing them is the first step to addressing them. You will also see team members be validated and their camaraderie enhanced. In the end, you will have a stronger team.
All activities can be done with only a few common materials or even none at all. Preparing for the activities will be easy. Most require nothing at all or just a pen and paper. When other materials are needed, they are always easy to obtain if you don't already have them (a deck of cards, an old newspaper, a bag of marshmallows, etc.).
All activities have one or more specific, focused objectives. Team-building activities, such as the ones in this book, are fun. However, fun should not be the only objective. There must be a learning goal for each activity (otherwise, why bother?). Each activity is designed to bring your group together as a team in some way. You can have fun while you learn and grow together.
The outline for each activity is easy to follow. Each one is presented in the same easy-to-read, bulleted format:
This is . . . explains very briefly what the activity is.
The purpose is . . . tells what the purpose or objective of the activity is.
Use this when . . . gives you clues you should look for that will tell you if this is the right activity for your group at this time.
Materials you'll need . . . tells you everything you will need for the activity (and often it's nothing).
Here's how . . . outlines, step by step, how to conduct the activity.
For example . . . illustrates how the activity may play out, so you get a good sense of what to expect.
Ask these questions . . . lists the best questions to ask afterward. Participants need to discuss what happened in the activity and what it meant in order to gain maximum learning and growth. Skip this step and you may as well just play a parlor game with your group.
Tips for success . . . includes things that will help you run the activity most effectively.
Try these variations . . . offers variations that can be used to spice it up, slow it down, add competitiveness, or otherwise alter it for a different learning experience.
For virtual teams . . . offers tips for adjusting the activity for groups that meet electronically because they cannot be in the same physical location.
As in the first book, you will not find any of these types of activities here:
NO "fish bowl" activities in which only a few participants are actively involved while everyone else watches and critiques them.
NO role-plays in which participants are given a fictitious role to act out or perform.
NO demonstrations in which the leader makes a point by demonstrating something while everyone else merely watches and then discusses.
NO outdoor activities requiring large areas, nice weather, and physically fit participants.
NO handouts to create, copy, or distribute.
NO "touchy-feely" activities in which participants have to touch each other or share personal thoughts or feelings--activities that push the manager into the role of psychologist or therapist rather than activity leader.
The first book began with two chapters that showed you how to run any team-building activity. I have added tips for dealing with virtual teams and include the same chapters here (I want you to be successful whether you buy my other book or not).
Chapter 1 gives you start-to-finish instructions on how to run any team-building activity. The instructions are divided into the three phases of running the activities:
Before the activity, you will learn how to decide which activity is best for you and your team. Why pick just any activity when you can select one that is designed specifically for your team's needs? What should you consider when selecting an activity for virtual teams? How competitive should the activity be? Then learn how to plan and prepare for the activity (even if you have only 2 minutes in the elevator to do so!).
During the activity, you will learn how to set up the activity for success--giving clear instructions, getting your participants to want to engage, and making sure they know what to do and how to do it. For virtual teams, learn how to set up the location for participation and how to work with the technology you have. Then learn what to do while the team is involved. Finally, learn to conduct the most important element of the activity: the Debrief. This is when you help the participants connect what they did in the activity with their behavior on the job. Skip this step and you lose most of the benefit of the activity.
After the activity, you will learn how to make the things learned during the activity come alive in the workplace and make sure your team truly benefits from having done the activity in the first place.
Chapter 2 gives you tips on how to avoid what most commonly can go wrong in team-building activities. Although Murphy's Law says you'll eventually hit a bump along the way, it doesn't mean you have to fail. The format for each potential problem is the same:
What if . . . describes potential problems or concerns you may face.
What you'll see . . . indicates what you will actually see and hear that tell you a problem has come up.
The most likely causes . . . identifies what usually causes the situation. Only when you know the cause can you take meaningful action.
How to prevent it from happening . . . gives ideas on how you can avoid the problem in the first place.
What to do if it happens anyway . . . offers suggestions on how to handle a problem you tried to avoid but happened anyway.
Team-building with your staff can be fun, rewarding, and productive. Seeing those creative sparks as your staff learns something important can be very exciting. Stick with it, be patient, and you will see great results, even after just a few activities!