One of the biggest challenges for a new entrepreneur is often building a team. It’s simple enough to post job openings, reach out to connections, and even make a few hires. But most entrepreneurs have a vision of something that’s a little bit more — a tight-knit group of driven people with a shared sense of purpose. It’s a perfectly understandable vision, but one that’s difficult to bring about.
To some extent, putting together a cohesive, unified, and energetic team is
about establishing effective communication within the working environment. People relate to one another and unite with shared purpose best if there’s a sense of openness and clarity from the top down. More specific and targeted approaches can help as well, however, which is what brings us to team building. If you just rolled your eyes, it’s understandable.
A lot of team-building exercises are old-fashioned and ineffective, and some can even come across to employees as being somewhat patronizing. But here, we’re not talking about name games, simulated projects, and the like. Rather, we’re talking about what games can be effective at building team spirit in the workplace. They won’t do the job all on their
own, but there are plenty of games that your team can grasp easily, play together, and ultimately use to establish deeper comfort levels.
We’re highlighting a few of those games here.
- Kemps is a card game played by teams of two, and it’s an incredibly fun way to bring about team communication (and usually a lot of laughter). Players start with four cards each, and four cards are placed face-up in the middle of the table. From there, without taking turns, players can snatch up cards from the middle and discard their own cards — never keeping more than four at once. It’s something of a free-for-all
that takes place until four cards rest in the middle and no one wants them. They are then swept aside and replaced with four more from the deck. The objective of the game is to get four of a kind — and then to secretively signal your partner that you’ve done so. If your signal works, and your partner yells “Kemps!” you win the round; if other teams are onto you and someone yells “Stop Kemps!” however, you lose. It’s a simple game in the end, but the secrecy, the scramble, the signals, and a ton of non-verbal communication make it surprisingly intimate in an amusing way.
- Pictionary is another classic board game and one that’s had something of a revival of late given that people have been playing over Zoom during the pandemic. As a brief refresher, it’s basically a game in which squares on a board correspond with cards that list different objects or scenes to be drawn. Upon reaching a new square, one player must draw the object or scene, while his or her partner attempts to guess what it’s supposed to be. Correct guesses within a time limit allow the team to progress along with the board. From a team-building perspective, this game isn’t entirely unlike Kemps. It leads people to cooperate with one another and work toward a common objective, and of course, within a workplace teams can be shuffled such that everyone gets experience
with everyone else. Pictionary is great fun and can build at least the beginnings of interpersonal workplace relationships quite quickly.
- Blackjack as you probably know, is another card game that’s very simple for a team to pick up. If you’re not familiar with the game, the rules are straightforward. Each player, including a dealer, is dealt two cards. Each player then gets a chance to “hit,” or draw another card, as many times as possible in order to get as close to a total value of 21 (face cards counting as 10, aces as 11, or 1 as needed). Alternatively,
players can choose to “stay,” or stick with only the cards they have. Going over 21 is a “bust,” meaning you lose the hand. You win the hand by scoring higher than the dealer without busting.
There are a few extra wrinkles as well — slightly more complicated, but broken down helpfully by Gala Casino’s blackjack guide. Basically, the options are to “split” cards (turning your hand into two separate hands if you’re dealt a pair) or “double” (which doubles your bet but also mandates that you draw a third card). But the core game is quite simple, and it’s a lot of fun for a group to play together — even without any
betting component (or perhaps with small candies in place of betting chips). There’s sure to be a lively conversation around a blackjack table, even among people relatively new to each other.
- (Team) Risk you’re likely familiar with the classic board game Risk. In case you’re not, it’s a game that’s essentially played on a world map, where players place different army units with the goals of defending their territory and conquering others. Battles are decided by rolls of the dice, and there are different ways to win (though full world domination is the norm). It may sound a bit combative, but the truth is it’s a pretty innocent game and one that most everyone enjoys. Our suggestion here, however, is to play it in teams. Two-player teams will be forced to strategize, keep up communication, and make quick decisions together, which can do far more to get new colleagues familiar with one another than any traditional, gimmicky team-building game.
- Mario Kart we’re not focusing on video games in general here, but Mario Kart simply has to be mentioned as about the most fun-filled competitive console game out there. Naturally, it requires a slightly more involved setup than a board game or a deck of cards, but if you’re able to support Mario Kart in the office, you’ll likely enjoy the results.
Not only is the same pure fun to play, but it’s also known for being equally friendly to beginners and veterans. As a piece on Medium puts it (while identifying a recent version of the game as one of the best games to play with coworkers), those who have little experience are given a leg up with more powerful in-game features. At the same time though, those who know the game will be competing to “shave seconds off of best times.” It’s a game for everyone and an excellent way to bring people together. The only potential issue with Mario Kart is that you may all spend too much time playing. These may all come across as unorthodox suggestions in the end, and they certainly have little to do with work in a direct sense. But activities like these really can help to build a sort of team spirit in a new workplace, and that’s worth taking into consideration for any entrepreneur. In the end, getting a team on the same page is a difficult but immeasurably rewarding aspect of starting a successful company.