When you hear the word "icebreaker," do you cringe? You're not alone. Once upon a time, I witnessed a group of senior executives awkwardly making animal sounds in response to ill-advised team icebreaker questions.
However, team icebreaker questions serve a great purpose. They help employees get to know one another and bond while team building. They break down social barriers. Plus, they model positive workplace chemistry.
According to The Cut, "An icebreaker can help to foster a sense of 'psychological safety,' or an atmosphere in which people feel free to speak up — to question, criticize, say something out-there — without fear of being ostracized."
And don't we all want a workplace where our employees feel a sense of psychological safety?
Team icebreaker questions and games, specifically, are proven effective in the workplace. Balance Careers argues, "It's the most effective tool to begin to engage attendees and encourage their participation in a meeting, training, or team building session."
Since workplace chemistry is unique, we've prepared a list of 4 different categories of team icebreaker questions and games to help you get started communicating, collaborating, and bonding.
No matter if your team is brand new or has been working together for ages, these icebreakers are a great way to get meetings started.
Pick a penny:
Ask each person to choose a penny from a bowl. Then, have them share something from the year listed on the penny.
Ask colleagues to respond to a question using only one word, such as "How are you feeling today?" or "Describe our workplace culture."
True or false:
– Have each share one true statement and one false statement about themselves. Have the team guess true or false.
What 3 things are saving your life right now:
Ask everyone to share the 3 things saving their lives right now.
Would you rather:
Take would you rather questions a step farther by having everyone explain their choice.
Get to know new employees with these simple team icebreaker questions.
Ask new employees to share a six-word memoir with the team instead of the standard introduction.
2 truths and a lie:
Play a few rounds of 2 truths and a lie.
Have new employees arrange themselves according to random categories (such as height, shoe size, or birth month).
Come up with five questions that relate to the M&M colors and don't show participants the questions until everyone has chosen their M&M. Have everyone choose an M&M. Then, they will answer the fundamental get-to-know-you question that corresponds to their M&M color.
Ask each person to share five favorites (movies, TV shows, celebrities, sports players, etc.).
Yes, you can still use team icebreaker questions for remote work, and you should!
Map us out:
Ask, "Where are you joining us from?" Then, have everyone put a pin in a collaborative Google map.
Ask "get to know you" questions (such as favorite food) but only allow emoji responses.
Have employees share the most unique thing(s) on their desks.
Dream remote work location:
Ask team members their dream remote work location—bonus points for a matching Zoom background.
Show and tell:
Take a few minutes for Show and Tell. This is not an apartment/home tour. Instead, ask employees to show off something they'd love their co-workers to see IRL.
If you strive to promote more inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, these team icebreaker questions and activities are good places to start.
Just by looking at me:
Go around the room and have everyone fill in the blanks for this statement - "My name is ___, and I am from ___. One thing you cannot tell just by looking at me is ___. This is important for me to tell you because ___."
I am, but I am not:
To help team members combat stereotypes, try this icebreaker. Ask each team member to complete the following statement: I am ____, but I am not _____.
(I am blonde, but I am not dumb.)
Group employees and give them a poster board. On the poster, they should draw a flower. It should have the same number of petals as group members. On each member's petal, they should write down things that make them unique. On the center circle, they should write a list of things they all have in common.
Ask team members to share a list of suggestions of things that co-workers can read, watch, or listen to that will help them understand their cultural identity.
Six degrees of separation:
Pair up employees. Have the pairs find 10 things they have in common with each other. Once they find ten commonalities, they move on to someone else in the group and must find at least 1 thing on their list of 10 shared commonalities that this person also shares. Keep repeating until they have found 5 new connections.
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