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Icebreakers to inspire caring, creative teams

We’ve seen a plethora of ideas this week about keeping your staff engaged despite the disconnected atmosphere we’re living in. Some have been a slice of genius, others verging on distressing (baking with your children in front of your boss tonight, anyone?)

Instead, let’s keep team meetings in work time, with just you to account for! We’re disjointed, downhearted and feeling a little dreary this December, so we are hoping to inject a little sparkle into proceedings. 

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Quality not quantity

Even in normal life, creating connections and building caring, engaged teams is not something that happens once a year at the annual away day. It’s the myriad mini natters, the offers of tea and shared project wins that build it. Quantity not quality counts most here. 

Virtual team meetings will, for many people, be their only point of connection during the day so be intentional about how you use the time. Allow your team to ease into their meetings instead of rushing to deal with the ‘meat’ of the meeting. It’s too tempting to hurry to the main business without allowing everyone to ease in, as you would IRL. My son’s school teacher has taught me that this week. Running zoom lessons with 30 nine year olds is quite the challenge. She allows them five minutes of messing about before (wisely) muting everyone to get on with the lesson.

Breaking barriers

We’ve collected virtual icebreakers to help your staff regain that sense of fun and community, but also to help new starters introduce themselves and get to know the personalities of their new team. Reading facial expressions and body language is complicated on a screen. These tips will help break down the barriers and also jump start creative juices before your dive into the meat of the meeting. 

A new view

We’re all heartily sick of looking at the same four walls. Point your screen out of your window to give your colleagues something new to look at. A change is as good as a rest, they say! Without the distraction of looking at people’s faces, you might feel less self-conscious. It will also call on people’s ability to truly listen to what people are saying. 

Sprint animal

Ask people to reflect on the team’s last sprint activity and ask them to draw it in animal form. Give them three minutes to draw the animal and label its attributes and characteristics. You might be surprised at the variety of wildlife people bring to the zoo! 

Two truths and a lie

A oldie but a goodie, that works just as well virtually. Ask people to declare two truths and one lie. Team members can vote on which they think the lie is. In the spirit of authentic leadership, offer to go first and make sure you include something that reveals a part of your personality that you might usually keep locked away.

CV in 60 seconds

Here’s a great exercise to welcome new staff members. Everyone has one minute to summarise their CV. You’ll find out what people value in themselves and be reminded of their useful experience that might have been forgotten. 

Dance break

Broadcast a great song at full volume and encourage everyone to MOVE! This might induce bouts of cringing in some, but rest assured, even nodding and finger bopping can count!

Coffee cup catwalk

Show off your favourite mug and ‘sell’ what you love about it! What’s in it (no gin, please) to get you through the day? Share who made the best cup of tea when you were in the office and remind yourselves of the team spirit that still exists. 

Ten things in common

This requires a little collaboration. Find ten things that everyone on the call has in common. You might all be working on Macs or perhaps you all have soup for lunch. The commonalities will be revealing.

Take a picture of your shoes

We’re asking you to put your people on the spot here. The important thing is that all these icebreaker activities are approached in good humour. You don’t have to be serious all the time to achieve serious things. If your usually terrifying co-worker is wearing fluffy unicorn slippers today, they should be bold and roll with it!

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