Cover image for Quick team-building activities for busy managers : 50 exercises that get results in just 15 minutes
Quick team-building activities for busy managers : 50 exercises that get results in just 15 minutes
Miller, Brian Cole, 1956-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Amacom, [2004]

Physical Description:
ix, 171 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library HD66 .M544 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Every group can benefit from team-building exercises. But sometimes it's not practical to embark on a full-scale training initiative. Now, supervisors, managers, and team leaders have 50 team-building activities to choose from, all of which can be implemented with no special facilities, big expense, or previous training experience. Readers will find engaging exercises for:

* Building new teams and helping teams with new members

* Dealing with change and its effects: anger, fear, frustration, and more

* Recognizing individual efforts and team accomplishments

* Finding creative ways to work together and solve problems

* Increasing and improving communication

* Leveraging diversity and individual differences to meet team goals

* Keeping competition healthy and productive within the team

Instructions and tips for follow-up and variations are included for each activity, and an additional chapter provides valuable advice for working through unexpected difficulties in team-building.

Author Notes

Brian Cole Miller (Dublin, OH) is the owner of Working Solutions



INTRODUCTION This second edition is written for the busy manager who wants to add an element of team-building to a meeting. More than a dozen new activities are included, along with helpful hints for virtual teams. Team-building becomes more difficult when members are in different locations. I've shown how half of the activities in this book can be modified to work with videoconferencing, web meetings, and even simple conference calls. I've also clarified some of the directions for several activities to make them work better with today's technology. You can expect every activity to take less than 15 minutes to conduct and discuss. Busy managers (and their staffs) do not have hours and hours to spend work-ing on their teams. They need activities that are quick and to the point. Can you really get results in less than 15 minutes? Yes, as long as your expectations are realistic. Longstanding issues will not be re-solved. Age-old antagonists will not emerge as best friends. Major obstacles will not disappear. However, important team issues will be brought to light. Strangers will become acquaintances. Group norms will be established. Feelings will be validated. Camaraderie will be enhanced. In the end, a stronger team spirit will be fostered. All activities can be done with only a few materials, or even none at all. You will not have to run to the store for odd materials to conduct these activities. In fact, more than half of the activities require nothing more than pen and paper! The materials required for the rest of them are sim-ple things often found at work, such as paper clips, markers, index cards, pennies, old magazines, and so forth. Only a few activities require special materials such as a deck of cards, balloons, or a puzzle. Each activity has one or more specific, focused objective. Teambuilding activities are usually fun, and the ones in this book definitely are. Fun is not the primary focus of any activity in this book, though. Each activity is designed to help your group come together as a team in one way or another. You can have fun while you learn and grow together! A busy manager like you can run every activity here easily. They are simple to understand and easy to prepare for. Some of them can be conducted successfully moments after you read them for the first time. You can pick up this book on your way to a meeting and use an activity from it right then and there! 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 the purpose you and your team are thinking about. Materials you'll need . . . tells you everything you will need for the activity. 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 on each one. Ask these questions . . . lists the best questions for each activity. These are used for the Debrief, the most important part of any team-building activity. During this session, participants discuss what they learned from the activity and relate it to their behavior back on the job. Tips for success . . . includes things that will help you run you ac-tivity more effectively. Try these variations . . . offers variations on the activity that can be used to spice it up, slow it down, add a level of competition, or oth-erwise alter it for a slightly different learning experience. For virtual teams . . . offers tips for adjusting the activity for groups that meet electronically because the participants cannot be in the same physical location. Relax, 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 where participants are given a fictitious role to act out or pretend. NO demonstrations in which the leader makes a point by demon-strating something while all the participants merely watch and then discuss. NO outdoor activities requiring large areas, nice weather, and physically fit participants. NO handouts to prepare, copy, or distribute. NO "touchy-feely" activities in which participants have to touch each other a lot or share intimate thoughts and feelings, activities that push the manager into the role of psychologist rather than activity leader. Before we get to the activities, two chapters will help you with any team-building activity you want to do. The first chapter gives you start-to-finish instructions on how to run an effective team-building activity. We will discuss all three phases of the experience: before, during, and after the activity. Before the activity, you will learn how to decide which activity is best for you and your team. Why pick any activity when you can choose one designed specifically for your team's needs? Then learn how to plan and prepare for your activity (even if you have only 2 minutes in the elevator to do so!). During the activity, you will learn how to set the activity up for suc-cess--giving clear instructions, getting your participants to want to participate, and making sure they know what to do and how to do it. Then learn what you should do while they are engaged. Finally, you will learn how to conduct the most important element of your activity: the Debrief. This is when your participants connect what they did in the activity with their behavior on the job. If you skip this step, you may as well not even have performed the activity! After the activity, you will learn how to make the things learned dur-ing the activity come alive in the workplace and make sure you and your team truly benefit from having done the activity in the first place. Then, in Chapter 2, we will look at what could go wrong while engaging in an activity. Murphy's law dictates that you will eventually hit a bump or two, but that does not mean you have to fail! The format for each potential problem is the same: What if . . . describes the potential problem or concern you may face. What you'll see . . . indicates what you will actually see and hear that tell you this problem has come up. The most likely causes . . . identifies what usually causes such a problem. Only when you know the cause can you take meaningful action to avoid the problem altogether or deal with it more effectively. How to prevent this from ever happening . . . gives ideas on how you can avoid the problem from happening in the first place. What to do if it happens anyway . . . offers suggestions on how to handle the problem if it actually does happen (despite your best pre-ventive efforts!). 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 after even just a few activities! Excerpted from Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers: 50 Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes by Brian Cole Miller All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Part I. Getting Ready
Chapter 1. How to Run a Successful Team-Building Activityp. 7
Step 1. Before: Select an Activity That's Good for Your Teamp. 7
Step 2. Before: Prepare for Your Team-Building Activityp. 8
Step 3. During: Explain the Activity to the Teamp. 9
Step 4. During: Check for Understanding Before Beginningp. 11
Step 5. During: Run the Activityp. 12
Step 6. During: Debrief the Activityp. 13
Step 7. After: Reinforce the Learning Back on the Jobp. 14
Chapter 2. What Could Go Wrong in a Team-Building Activityp. 17
Part II. The Activities
Chapter 3. Communication: Listening and Influencingp. 29
$2 Negotiationp. 30
Card Trianglesp. 33
Listen upp. 35
Me, Myself, and Ip. 38
Origamip. 40
Shared Valuesp. 42
Washing Machinesp. 45
Chapter 4. Connecting: Getting to Know Each Otherp. 49
A Day in the Life ...p. 50
Gossip Timep. 52
Human Billboardsp. 54
My N.A.M.E.p. 56
A Penny for Your Thoughtsp. 58
Rather Thanp. 61
Ready, Set, Reorganize!p. 63
Similarities and Differencesp. 66
Sweet Storiesp. 69
Chapter 5. Cooperation: Working Together as a Teamp. 73
Catch!p. 74
Pass the Cardp. 77
Popcornp. 80
Puzzledp. 82
Silence is Goldenp. 85
Star Powerp. 87
Tied!p. 89
United Heartsp. 91
Chapter 6. Coping: Dealing with Changep. 95
Change Time Linep. 96
Guess and Switchp. 99
Index Towersp. 102
Machinesp. 104
Makeoversp. 106
Numbersp. 108
Puzzled Thumbsp. 110
Simon Sezp. 113
Wrong-Handed Picturep. 115
Chapter 7. Creativity: Solving Problems Togetherp. 117
Seven Handsp. 118
Balloon Sculpturesp. 121
Card Stackp. 123
Consultantsp. 126
Improve Thisp. 129
One-Worded Storiesp. 132
Paper Shufflep. 135
Chapter 8. Teamwork: Appreciating and Supporting Each Otherp. 137
Blame Gamep. 138
But Nothing (Feedback)p. 141
But Nothing (Ideas)p. 144
First Impressionsp. 147
Junk to Jewelsp. 150
Kudosp. 152
Labelsp. 155
Rainbow of Diversityp. 158
What I Like About Mep. 160
ZYXp. 163
Indexp. 167
About the Authorp. 171

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