Jennifer Rufatto, MBA: is a consultant at FlashPoint, an Indianapolis-based human resource and business consulting firm. Jennifer focuses her consulting efforts in the areas of workplace learning and leadership development. She’s adept at helping employees learn how to increase production, improve efficiencies, create and implement new systems, and better serve customers. She also coaches employees and delivers training and development in the areas of employee engagement, performance management, teambuilding, and more.

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In HR consulting, often I hear leaders say that team building is great—but they just don’t have time.

When I drill down, the assumption I find is that team building needs to take hours—even days—to be effective. In reality it is the value of consistent team building that has the greatest impact rather than the amount of time spent.

Give yourself a break! Team building can be done in 15 minutes or less! To make it most effective decide on what message(s) you want your team building to convey and center your activities around that message.  Consider the following examples:

Message: Value the unique contributions of each person within the team.

Team Exercise One:

Have each team member take a piece of paper and write their name at the top. Pass the paper clockwise and when they get someone else’s paper, they should write one thing they value about that person. Continue passing the papers until each person has their own paper back. Have team members take turns reading their paper out loud. Finally, close the exercise by encouraging team members to keep this paper handy when they need to remember what their team values in them. This exercise not only builds the esteem of each person, but reminds everyone to think about what they value in each other.

Team Exercise Two:

Prior to the meeting, have each team member map out the core responsibilities of their job and identify what other roles on the team are impacted by each responsibility. In the meeting, have team members pair up and give them three minutes to share their maps with their partner. Do four rounds of this and then come back and debrief by explaining that nothing we do is in a vacuum. Encourage them to get with each other before the next meeting and add more detail to their maps. Managers could have many uses for these maps; yet, the primary goal is to get the team thinking about how what they do impacts others on the team.

What quick and effective team building ideas do you use? Please share!