Games for Team Building Activities

The use of games to aid in the development of teams is a widely accepted concept. Facilitators developing teams have a wide range of games available for them to use in their training program. The trick is to choose the right game for their team’s stage of development. Games used for developing teams can be categorised into five types.

The first type of game is probably the least popular because the same games are often used over and over in various gatherings. These are the Icebreakers. They help the team members get to know each other which is the first and most important step in team building. There are three ways to get to know each other:

  • getting to know your name – for teams where members are meeting for the first time
  • getting to talk to you – about anything non-threatening
  • getting to know something about you – starting with general things and moving into slightly more personal characteristics.

Energisers are the second type of game. They can be used at anytime to break the routine or provide a brain break from formal learning. Participation in these games also extends the getting to know you process.

Team bonding games are used once team members know something about each other and are ready to increase their social interactions. By participating in these games, team members broaden what they know about each other. They also learn the skills and competencies of the members of their team. This leads to personal decisions about who can be relied on for what.

Trust games are used for high functioning teams who need to be certain they can rely on each other. These games require the team members to be bonded and ready to test the feelings of reliability they have developed for each other.

Closure games are the fifth type of game. They are used when the team has completed a goal. This may be a milestone in the team process or it may be the end of the life of the team.

Using these types of games can make team development enjoyable.

So why games?

  • Games provide an opportunity for activity that can be sadly lacking in the daily training/school routine.
  • Physical activity increases brain activity and re-energises the body.
  • Both increased brain, muscle activity lead to increased blood flow which will refocus attention and improve the mood.
  • Any change in activity level will refresh participants and offset boredom.
  • There is some evidence that goes further to say that if participants are active they can improve learning and memory.
  • Team members can get to know one another, develop relationships and learn to trust one another while having fun.
  • Games can be educative in subtle but effective ways.
  • All games can help develop a range of communication skills and some require use of literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Good educational games can be motivational and promote a range of higher order thinking skills such as:
    • creative thinking (as found in the energiser and team bonding games)
    • problem solving (icebreakers, energisers, team bonding and trust games)
    • cooperation (team bonding and trust)
    • reflective, evaluative and critical thinking (closure games).

To achieve these goals, all games require thoughtful and enthusiastic facilitation.

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