Organizations use team building exercises to improve work output. Teams differ in the issues they face: insufficient or faulty communication, lack of trust, and inability to coordinate. Therefore, there cannot be any single set of team building activities for everyone. The ones that help address your specific problems are the best activities for your group. It is also important to remember that these activities change group dynamics, but require encouragement from the team leader to be truly effective.
It is vital that team members understand each other and work to their strengths for a team to function efficiently. Although everyone knows that people differ in their attitudes and outlook, they often lose track of this fact when working together, leading to differences. An activity such as "Day and Color Association" helps to drive this home. In this exercise, people close their eyes and imagine the color they sense for each day of the week. The group then reviews and discusses how each person associates a specific color with a particular day of the week. This reinforces the concept that perceptions differ, and appreciating this is important to minimize conflict.
Developing Communication Skills
Some teams suffer because of conflict between members and lack of consensus. In such instances, it is vital for team members to improve communication skills. Listening is a vital albeit ignored aspect of communication. The “gossip” game helps demonstrate the importance of listening carefully to what a person communicates. In this activity, a person tells another a short anecdote, who in turn passes it to her neighbor and this continues till everyone in the group has heard the story. The last person narrates the anecdote as she has heard it and from the distortion in content, the group understands the importance of listening in communication.
Teams often need to learn how to work together to ensure the project as a whole is completed successfully. When a team participates in an outdoor activity, members get an actual experience of the importance of working in concert. Activities such as outdoor adventure camps, mountain climbing and survival courses encourage teams to undertake problem solving, risk taking and acting as a cohesive unit to complete the activity. Such challenging activities impart critical and creative thinking, decision making and interpersonal skills, which prove useful at the workplace.
Teams that are beset by problems need to work on basic issues by focusing on the problem. Activities conducted by an experienced outside trainer in a retreat setting are helpful in this aspect. The "Mine Field" activity is one in which the participants works in pairs with one person having to walk through a “mine field” of objects such as bowling pins or cones distributed randomly across a small space. This person is blindfolded and therefore, has to depend on the instructions his partner calls out to successfully navigate this area. The partners then swap roles. This activity helps in building trust among team members.