An organization’s ability to be successful depends on the ability of their teams to collaborate effectively.

Team collaboration isn’t always easy, and many teams experience initial difficulties collaborating. It is important for executives to understand barriers to team collaboration and ensure that teams get over those barriers. Barriers does not necessarily have to be dysfunctional behaviours from team members, there can be barriers at the organizational level.

Team bonding activities are an effective tool for breaking barriers and improving team collaboration. Sometimes team members dismiss team bonding activities as boring and unproductive. This is due to ineffective ways of organizing team bonding activities. Breaking barriers requires team members to be comfortable and make active efforts to do so. It is also a misconception that breaking barriers requires activities that are indoors or simply games played with a kit. There is more to team building activities than simple games. Some barriers can only be broken down with physical activities. Team building physical activities like outdoor sports help team members align with a collective goal and overcome psychological barriers like self-doubt. Physical team building activities are also more exciting for team members to participate. Nevertheless, of the type of barrier being experienced, here are a few team bonding activities that can help break common barriers in workplace:

Ice breakers

One of the common barriers majority of the teams experience is communication barrier. There may be many reasons for poor communication in teams. Some of the common reasons could be not being comfortable with each other, fear of not being heard, conflict among team members or too much emphasis on formal communication. Poor communication will lead to unproductive teamwork. Ice breakers activities can improve team communication greatly. Some examples of ice breaker team bonding activities are Bingo games, introducing each other through facts, creating cards about fellow team members, speed dating etc. Although Ice breaker activities can break communication barrier, they serve more as energizing and introducing activities rather than solution to serious communication blockages.

Listening games

Team members with poor listening skills are a barrier to team bonding. Communication is a two way thing and requires good receivers. Poor listeners also make their team members feel disrespected. Listening is also crucial for to be an efficient leader. One way communication does not build trust and instead creates feelings of suppression, insecurity, and loneliness. Team bonding games with themes like memorizing, storytelling, concentration, and countdowns can transform every team member into an active listener. But active listening is not limited to verbal communication. Non-verbal cues like body language, eye contact, gestures are also a part of listening. Making a conscious effort to be a listener involves reading non-verbal cues. Team bonding games like freeze walk, acting out a sequence, drawings based on description of other players can help strengthen listening skills.

Outdoor sports

When teams are overworked or stressed, they lose the motivation to continue. They start experiencing low self-esteem, poor mental health and lose determination to contribute to their team. For these teams, organizing outdoor sports as team building activities will be beneficial to their mental health. It may be surprising how sports can improve mental health while it is a physical activity. It has been proven that sports not only serve as a physical exercise but can also improve mental health greatly. Sports instil a sense of confidence, inspire individuals to contribute and breakdown both physical and emotional barriers. An outdoor sports day with sports like tennis, badminton, athletics, basketball can help your team to break boundaries and become more competitive.

Breaking barriers challenges

Often many barriers people experience are psychological rather than due to external factors. Individuals do not express or communicate about these psychological barriers for fear of being stereotyped or secluded. For teams to collaborate smoothy, every individual needs to come together by breaking unexpressed barriers. Diversity, inequality, and self-doubt are some examples of these barriers. Challenges like writing the fears or insecurities on a hard surface and breaking the surface can help overcome these barriers. The essence of this activity is to use a physical metaphor to overcome a psychological barrier. These challenges may seem like an individual activity rather than team activity. However, teams are formed by individuals and cannot sustain without collective efforts. If needed, these can be customized for teams to participate together. These are also highly energetic activities that encourage individuals to look within and acknowledge their limiting beliefs.

Truth or Dare

The most popular game in parties or picnics has a great potential to build personal bonds by sharing stories. It is often misunderstood that this kind of activities make individuals vulnerable at work. But these activities add a personal touch to team building. When team members get to know each other on a personal level, misunderstandings clear out and they can come together to form better relationships.

Breaking barriers for collaboration is an ongoing process and requires consistent efforts. Team bonding activities motivate employees to take steps towards collaboration without physical or emotional barriers. However, caution must be exercised to identify any conflicts or barriers during early stage to resolve them. Team bonding activities will not be effective when conflicts are in the later stages.

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