Corporate Icebreakers: Dos and Don’ts
Whether you’re running a startup company with all new employees or simply putting together a new team for one project, icebreakers are an essential part of your first group meeting. They ease tension and awkwardness, create a fun environment, and encourage team bonding that leader to a more effective and fulfilling office. But breaking the ice is no easy task; there are just as many right ways as there are wrong ways. Check out our list of dos and don’ts below, and make sure you break the ice in the best way possible!
DO: Consider the Group Dynamic – Ask any teacher, manager, or anyone else who regularly deals with large groups of people and they’ll tell you the same thing: every group has its own, unique vibe. Be conscious of this when you’re planning your meeting, and prepare a few different icebreaker games ahead of time. By the time you get around to ice breaking you should know what type of group you have – energetic or reserved, playful or no-nonsense (you can usually get a sense of your team before the introductions are out of the way). Then pick the game that best suits the group, and bam – you’re off and running!
DON’T: Embarrass Your Team – I’m sure you’ve heard of that game, “Have You Ever?” You know, the one where you tell the group something you’ve never done (usually something embarrassing), and anyone who has done said thing has to do something (run a lap around the room, take a shot of whiskey, what have you) while everyone laughs at them? Some folks will tell you this is a great way for a team to get to know each other, but what it really does is make some people embarrassed and uncomfortable, creating unwanted tension among the group right from the get-go. Avoid games that single people out or encourage our human inclination to judge one another; it’s all fun and games until someone gets a bruised ego.
DO: Tell Stories – Put a group of adults in a room together, and you have an automatic wellspring of stories and life experiences to share. Take advantage of this, and use it as a way to bond your team, with a story-sharing game like “I Remember.” For this game, each team member will take a coin (either from their own pockets or from a bowl of spare change you provide) and tell a story about something that happened to them the year that coin was minted. This can spawn cute childhood tales, funny anecdotes, stories about major milestones, and everything in between, and it’s sure to bond your team together.
DON’T: Forget About Personal Space – Lots of icebreakers involve getting close – too close, even. Even if this meeting is a formal affair in a beautiful location, someone will always suggest you play “The Human Knot.” The trouble is that most people, especially here in America, are uncomfortable with others getting in their personal space. Keep this in mind when you pick out your games, and figure out if there’s a purpose behind crossing personal boundaries. Is your team going to spend time scrunched together down a mineshaft? Great, pop their personal bubbles now. But if everyone will be seated nicely at desks, with plenty of space around their swivel chairs, leave the knots outside with the boy scouts.