FREE ICE BREAKERS AND TEAM BUILDING EXERCISES
The Encyclopedia of Icebreakers (University Associates) says that ice breakers “are tools that enable the group leader to foster interaction, stimulate creative thinking, challenge basic assumptions, illustrate new concepts, and introduce specific material.” As such, icebreakers can be used nearly any time a facilitator has a need to gather a group, get them together, and help them move forward. Icebreakers can be used to the same ends, and are generally thought of as best for points in the midst of a meeting, training, workshop, or other group learning experience.
Free Ice Breaker #1
Your Worst/First Job
Everyone goes around the room and tells what they did for his/her first or worst job. You could also do it ahead of time and ask meeting attendees to fill out a card and the facilitator can read them aloud and everyone has to guess which employee had that particular job.
Goal: To learn something new about your colleagues. It could also spark conversation between employees who do not normally work together often and in some cases it might get a chuckle or two.
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Free Ice Breaker #2
Time Allocation: 5 minutes
Materials: Blank 8 ½-by-11-inch sheets of paper for each participant
1. Tell the participants the following: “We are going to play a game that will show us some important things about communication. Pick up your sheet of paper and hold it in front of you. Now, close your eyes and follow the directions I will give you—and no peeking! Participants cannot ask questions.
2. Give the following directions, carrying them out yourself with your own sheet of paper and pausing after each instruction to give the group time to comply:
“The first thing I want you to do is to fold your sheet of paper in half.
Now tear off the upper right-hand corner.
Fold it in half again and tear off the upper left hand corner of the sheet.
Fold it in half again. Now tear off the lower right-hand corner of the sheet.”
3. After the tearing is complete, say something like “Now open your eyes, and let’s see what you have. If I did a good job of communicating and you did a good job of listening, all of our sheets should look the same!” Hold your sheet up for them to see. It is highly unlikely any sheet will match yours exactly.
4. Observe the differences. There will probably be much laughter.
5. Ask the group why no one’s paper matched yours. (You will
Probably get responses like “You didn’t let us ask questions!” or
“Your directions could be interpreted in different ways.”)
Then, lead into a presentation on the need for two-way communication in the workplace.
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Free Ice Breaker and Team Building Exercise #3
Purpose: To highlight the pros and cons of internal competition.
Set Up: An ordinary 10-dollar bill; a gavel (or some other heavy, hand-held object).
Process: Announce to the group that you will be auctioning off a $10 bill. The bidding begins at $5, and yes, you really will be giving out the money, no matter how low the highest bid. The game continues until you’ve called out “Going, going, gone” and slammed down your gavel. In almost all cases, the bidding will continue beyond the $10 threshold, with much excitement and high spirits. To ensure this result and to ratchet up the energy even higher, conduct the auction again, this time announcing that the two highest bidders (the winner AND the runner-up) must BOTH pay out their bids, regardless of the winner.
Discussion Questions: What made this game exciting? Why were the high-bidders willing to go over and beyond the actually monetary value of the money? How effective is competition at raising energy and morale? What are the possible downsides to excessive competition?
The Point: Competition is an almost sure-fire method for releasing adrenaline and getting people’s blood rushing – particularly in America’s highly competitive culture and society. But competition has a price. In our effort to beat out our rivals (often co-workers), we can easily fall into behaviour that disregards cost and time efficiency. Ten dollars has a clear monetary value of exactly $10 in an even-tempered, thoughtful business environment. Once competition is added to the mix, however, the atmosphere becomes more charged and the opportunity increases for hasty and imprudent decision-making. A $10 bill, in this short-sighted, antagonistic environment, now gets purchased at $15, or $20, or even $30! People lose sight of what a $10 bill really is; namely, a $10 bill! This fun little exercise is quite effective for demonstrating the benefits of internal competition (i.e. employee enthusiasm, energy, adrenaline) and the possible downsides of an adversarial environment (i.e. fiscal irresponsibility and short-sidedness). It might also just make you a few easy bucks as well.
Submitted by Dr. Clue
Copyright (c) 2004 Dr. Clue, All Rights Reserved.
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