10 team building activities to shape collaborative mindsets

I wish they could just talk to each other.

This question comes across all leaders’ minds at least once a day. Study has also shown that collaborative teams are more productive than those where each team member is sectioned off in their own position. More and more organizations realize the importance of collaboration and are intentionally building a collaborative environment

Why don’t your team members collaborate?

Lack of understanding of each other’s strength and weakness

Your team members come from different backgrounds and expertise. Though you might have hired all of them personally, your team members don’t necessarily know each other that well. They may need support on a certain subject but fail to see who would be a good person to consult. 

Lack of personal connections among members

“Will they be willing to help me? We have never talked before.”

“I heard he is working on a big project. I shouldn’t take too much of his time.” 

The lack of personal connection and meaningful conversations puts a stop to invitations to collaborate. 

Lack of motivation to contribute

When your team members see an obvious loophole in a project led by another team member, he/she may not see the necessity to point it out right away. Without motivation, it is easy for people to walk away minding their own businesses.

Lack of mutual goals

Each functional role has different KPI to achieve. The lack of a mutual goal stops them from offering help to others.

What is a collaborative mindset?

A collaborative mindset is one of the most essential criteria for a self-motivated and coordinated team. Here are 6 signs that your team has a collaborative mindset:

  • They exchange and learn from each other’s previous experiences
  • They seek advice from other members
  • They feel comfortable getting help from others when things get overwhelming.
  • They are open to trying new approaches to solve a problem
  • They are willing to give help and suggestions

Don’t worry if you don’t see these behaviours in your team yet. This brings us to the next part of the article — How to establish a collaborative mindset.

How to establish a collaborative mindset?

In one extreme case, Steve Jobs went so far as to spend 5 billion USD to build a collaborative environment at Apple. Apple Park is built with the goal to “make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk”. 

Not every team has this kind of money, so we have put together 10 zero-cost activities that train your team to think in a collaborative way.

Back-to-Back Drawing

Good for: understanding each others’ strength and weakness, building personal connections

You will need: a handful of pictures

  1. Split your team into pairs
  2. Each person sits back-to-back with his/her partner
  3. In each pair, one member is given a picture/photo while the other member is given a pen and paper
  4. In one minute, the member with the image must verbally describe the picture, while the other member draws the described image.
  5. The pair with the most accurate drawing wins

Two Truth one lie

Good for: personal connection

You will need: nothing

  1. Every person has to come up with 2 truth and 1 lie about themselves
  2. Others need to guess which one is the lie and explain why

Leaderboard

Good for: motivation to collaborate, aligning goals

You will need: a board to keep track of points (physical or virtual)

  1. Encourage your team members to give suggestions to projects that he/she is not responsible for
  2. Every time one of their suggestions is taken by the project leader, he/she gets a point
  3. The first person to reach 15 points gets a prize

Office Trivia

Good for: understanding each others’ strength and weakness, building personal connections

You will need: a list of questions

  1. Create a list of questions about your team. For example: “Who have birthdays in June?”, “Who travelled to Japan for a business trip in 2019?” 
  2. Ask your team to complete the trivia quiz during the week. 
  3. The person with the most right answers wins a prize

My day your day 

Good for: understanding each others’ strength and weakness, building personal connections

You will need: a volunteer to share his/her workday

  1. Invite one of your team members to share what a regular workday would be for him/her in front of the team. 
  2. Invite other team members to ask questions about his/her work

Book Club

Good for: building personal connections

You will need: a book of your choice

  1. Choose a book for your team, ideally about personal or business growth
  2. Invite your team to finish reading the book in a month
  3. At the end of the month, invite everyone to share their learnings from the book and discuss any actionable ideas

Team of diversity

Good for: understanding each others’ strength and weakness, building personal connections

You will need: a problem to solve

  1. Invite your team members to do a personality test and submit the result to you
  2. Assign team members with different personalities to tackle a hands-on problem in a group for 20 minutes. Problems could be building a parachute for unbreakable eggs, creating a paper airplane that flies the longest, etc.
  3. After problem-solving, encourage each member to share within the group what they notice about other’s communication and working styles.

Who said that

Good for: building personal connections

Traditional method:

You will need: paper, pen

  1. Divide your attendees into groups of 3-5
  2. Ask everyone to secretly write down their answer to an open-ended question given by you (eg. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?)
  3. Ask attendees to folder their answers and mix them up.
  4. As the group unwrap the answers one by one, let them guess who in the group wrote down that answer.
  5. Everyone reveals their answer at the end of the game

Digital method

You will need: the download-free Toasty and a projector

Language exchange

Good for: building personal connections

You will need: a problem to solve

  1. Collect what languages each member speaks and wants to learn. 
  2. Pair members based on their learning interests
  3. Allow them to find language exchange time

Reframe the problem

Good for: aligning goals, motivation to collaborate

You will need: A list of “reframe the problem” questions

When approaching a new problem, gather the team and ask them to “reframe the problem” with the following questions.

  • What would we do if we had unlimited money?
  • What assumptions are we making?
  • What does success look like?
  • What if our ambitions were even bigger?
  • How can we ensure we’re on the right path?
  • What are the most important lessons from the past?

Pro tips: Toasty has built-in Conversation Cards specifically for the “reframe the problem” exercise. Use it now to gamify the exercise for your team.

It takes time and exercise after exercise for your team to establish a collaborative mindset. However, the amount of time spent on these team-building activities will be paid off by the time that will be saved further down the road. Use Toasty to host team-building sessions today!