The more your employees trust one another, the stronger and more productive your team will be. It’s that simple.
That’s because when workers trust each other, they have each other’s backs. If, for example, an employee is swamped one week and asks a colleague to help out with their workload, it’s much easier to say yes when the second worker knows their colleague will return the favor down the road.
According to our 2015 Engagement Report, coworkers are the number one thing employees love about their jobs. But that doesn’t mean you can throw 20 random workers into a room and expect them to get along swimmingly overnight. It takes time to develop resilient bonds. In order to build the strongest team, you need to set aside adequate time and resources specifically to help employees get to know each other better.
One of the easiest ways to increase camaraderie among your staff is by scheduling team-building trust activities on regular basis. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, it might be something you want to do once a month or once a quarter.
Drawing a blank as to what kinds of team-building activities can build trust? Here are 15 ideas to get you started:
Have your employees stand in a circle holding a rope. Blindfold them and tell them to drop the rope. Next, tell them to take a couple steps away from where they were standing. Now, have them return to the rope and try to work together to lay it out in a perfect square.
Let your employees pick a partner. Have them sit back-to-back. One employee has a blank pad and pencil, while the other is given a picture with an obscure shape on it. The employee with the picture instructs the one with the pad what to draw.
Assemble an obstacle course of sorts. Blindfold your employees and have them get into a line. Give them a rope and tell them to all grab onto it. Have the team try to navigate the obstacle course. They’re allowed to talk — so leadership will be displayed and trust will develop.
Break your team into groups of at least 10 and have them stand in a circle. Choose someone to become the “pinball” and blindfold that person from where they stand in the circle. The manager (or designated facilitator) then gently pushes that person across the circle. Eventually, the blindfolded person will bump into people on the other side of the circle, who will spin them around and nudge them toward folks on the other side. Let everyone take turns being blindfolded.
Break your team into small groups of eight or so people. Have someone volunteer to be the “willow” and have the rest of the group form a circle around them. The willow closes their eyes and lets the group know they are ready to fall. The group lets the willow know they are ready to catch them. With extended arms, they keep the willow upright.
Go to an open space and lay out a number of obstacles on the ground (e.g., cones and chairs). Pair your employees together, and make one of them wear a blindfold. The object here is to have the employee who can see verbally direct the blindfolded peer across the minefield to the other side without running into anything. The blindfolded staffer can’t talk.
Instruct your large group to stand in two lines facing each other. Have them extend their arms out so that they intersect. The person at the end of the line will then walk down the gauntlet. Each team member will raise their arms to allow for safe passage.
Arrange a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Break your team into small groups and have them find the items as quickly as they can. The first team that collects every item on the list wins. Team members will be forced to work together, which will help build trust.
Have your team stand in a circle. Instruct everyone to lock right hands with someone on the other side of the circle (make it harder by having them lock hands with the person standing across from them). Have them lock left hands with someone else on the other side of the circle. Try to see whether they can untangle without unlocking hands.
Have your employees take turns staring into each other’s eyes for 60 seconds. Not only will they become better at maintaining eye contact, they should connect with one another on some level.
A trust activity that should end with a glass of wine — nice! Break your staff into teams of six. Each team needs to track down a bottle of wine, uncork it, and pour it into six glasses. One member isn’t blindfolded, and everyone needs to perform exactly one task.
Go to a large open field. Break your team into pairs, with one member blindfolded. Instruct them to hold hands. The person who can see then leads the blindfolded member from a slow walk to a short, fast run. Swap the blindfold and repeat the process.
Break your employees into groups of six. The leader has frostbite and can’t move. The remaining team members have snow blindness and can’t see. The object is for the team to pitch a tent by listening to the leader’s directions.
Have your employees form groups of about seven people and stand in a line in a relatively open room. Place objects around the room that can be easily picked up. The first six people in the line will be blindfolded, and the last person can see. The sighted person will then direct the “snake” where to go to pick up the object by tapping the person in front of them on the shoulder, who will tap the person in front of them on the same shoulder, and so on. Once they’ve secured the object, the person in the front moves to the back and becomes the sighted person.
Split your employees into groups of about 10 people. Have them all stand on similar-size tarps or plastic sheets. Make sure the tarps aren’t so big that they make the game simple. The goal of this activity is to flip the tarp over without anyone breaking contact with it. The group that is able to do it quickest wins.