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10 Trust Building Activities to Try with Your Team
Many employees at any given company spend between 30 – 50 hours (sometimes more!) per week working. Much of this time will be spent interacting with the same coworkers over and over. For this reason, trust among employees is not only something NICE to have, but something you NEED to have. Enter:
Trust Building Activities
Quite simply put, the more trust employees have in one another, the stronger the team will be. It’s much easier to work with someone if you know they will do their fair share and pull their weight. Also, knowing a coworker has their back makes employees much more inclined to lend a hand or cover for someone, trusting that the favor will be returned when needed.
Trust isn’t something that is necessarily easy to come by, however. No matter how smart or skilled employees are, it takes time to form resilient bonds – it’s not just something you can tell people to have. Trust building activities are a great way to help teams form high levels of trust, which will also lead to them being more productive.
Despite working together so often, employees will rarely have a chance to bond on a personal level. For this reason, time and resources should be allotted to trust building activities semi-regularly – monthly, even quarterly, depending on the scale of the activities.
So how does one go about preparing trust building activities for the team?
Preparing before trust building activities
- Let your team know in advance: it’s important to give your team a heads up if you’re planning on running some trust building activities. This will give more time to employees who may be a bit more nervous about the idea, to prepare. If you’re thinking of including any activities that include personal questions, it may be a good idea to include them as well.
- Organize food: you don’t want your team attempting to build trust on an empty stomach. Getting food catered, or even having the food prep be part of the trust building activities (see below!) is a good way to start your training session off.
- Give bosses a heads up: let upper management know of the trust building activities ahead of time, and tell them what it entails. This way, if they want to participate in any fashion – actually participating, or even just giving an inspirational speech, etc. – they’ll be aptly prepared.
10 Trust Building Activities
Now that we know why trust building activities are important, and how to prepare for them, let’s take a look at some good activities to have your team take part in.
1. Icebreaker questions
Icebreakers are the classic trust building activity. They can range from just a single, silly question (i.e. if you could live in any fictional world, what would it be?) to a series of questions about the employee’s personal life. Other options include asking about pet projects (activities employees do outside of work), pest projects (areas they would like to improve in), and nostalgic questions.
Icebreakers help build trust because it allows coworkers to learn about each other on a personal level. It can also explore employee’s vulnerabilities, depending on which questions are asked, which builds trust among the team. They are relatively ‘safe’ as well particularly if shared in advance.
2. Eye contact
Speaking of vulnerability, another great trust building activity is to simply make eye contact. Many people are uncomfortable doing this for extended periods of time – have employees make eye contact for up to 60 seconds, and see how they make connections.
3. Trust fall
This is another well-known trust building activity. Have someone stand in the middle of a circle of their coworkers and close their eyes. They then announce that they are ready to fall, and the circle will respond that they are ready to catch them. When the person in the middle falls, the circle will keep them upright/catch them. This builds trust for your coworkers literally and metaphorically having your back.
4. Food prep
Eating together not only ensures that the team won’t be hangry, but also builds trust. Consider an alternative to having meetings catered – have the trust building activity be centered around a cooking class. Don’t forget to consider dietary restrictions!
5. Blind trail
Assemble an obstacle course in a large, open space. Have teams of five or six all holding onto a rope while blindfolded. They must navigate the course together – they are allowed to talk and communicate, so they will be able to build trust with each other.
6. Partner obstacle course
Have employees pair up, one person in each pair wearing a blindfold. Set up an obstacle course and have the employee who can see verbally navigate the blindfolded employee through it.
7. Blind snake
As you may have noticed, many trust building activities rely on blindfolds. In blind snake, have a team of five or six line up one in front of the other. Place various objects around the large, open space that the team will need to pick up. Only the back person in line is able to see – they cannot speak, but can direct the line by tapping the shoulder of the person in front of them. That person taps the next one, and so on. When they successfully get an item, the person at the front goes to the back.
8. Human knot
Another classic trust building activity. Have employees form a circle. They then will reach out and connect right hands with someone on the opposite side. Next, they will connect left hands with someone else. Have them try to unravel the knot without breaking any contact. This will build communication and team thinking.
9. Flip over
Have teams stand on pieces of plastic, or tarp, or paper that are similar sizes. Simply ask them to flip it over, without anyone breaking contact with it.
One person on the team is the leader, who has frostbite – meaning they can’t move. The other team members have snow-blindness, meaning – you guessed it – they are blindfolded. With verbal direction from the leader, they must complete a task, such as assembling a tent or something similar.
Trust building activities are crucial to ensuring your team is as close as they can be. The more trusting a team is of each other, the more productive they’ll be, and the more your company benefits. Make sure you set aside time and resources semi-regularly to engage in trust building activities.