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A Defining Work Moment Team Building Activity

A Team Building Activity or Ice Breaker for Meetings or Team Building Sessions


Employees participate in a team building activity.

Employees participate in a team building activity.

Diane Diederich

Do you need an effective team building activity that you can use for meetings, training classes, team building sessions, and company events and activities? My defining work moment team building activity makes group cohesiveness and cooperation a natural result of this team building activity.

You can use this team building activity, as you would use any ice breaker or activity to start a meeting, but it requires more time and introspection than a normal quick, fun session starter. Your participants will learn to know and appreciate each other's background and experience with this team building activity. The goal of this team building activity is to help participants build a cohesive team.

With a group of twenty-four, this team building activity will take approximately an hour. So, this team building activity is more appropriate for a team building day-long or multiple day session. It is also appropriate as the main event in a team building session that lasts a couple of hours when the main goal is team building. As a main teambuilding activity, this exercise will provide participants a “meaty” debriefing opportunity while they share the insights they gained from participating in the team building activity.

Steps in a Defining Work Moment Team Building Activity

  1. Divide the meeting participants into groups of four people by having them number off, one through four. Have your number ones sit with the other ones and so forth. (You do this because people generally begin a meeting by sitting with the people they already know best.)

  2. Tell the newly formed groups that their assignment is to look back over their work careers and find one event, relationship, conversation, activity, accomplishment, collaboration, or moment of recognition by others that was a defining work moment for them. I think of these as career highlights: moments in time when career direction or assignments were affected, minds turned in new directions, strengths or weaknesses were recognized, or whole new meanings changed their world.

    These events may have occurred in one quick moment or they may have developed over weeks or months. They were, however, defining moments after which nothing remained the same.
  3. Provide ten or so minutes for the participants to think about and jot down ideas before you ask them to share their defining moment with their small group. (If you have participants who are relatively new to the work place, you can ask them to share defining moments from college classes, part time jobs, or volunteer work.

  4. Once participants have a chance to think about their defining moments, ask them to share them with their small group. Tell the small group members to look for common themes and similarities in the stories their group members share. They will want to jot down these themes and similarities in preparation for the debriefing discussion following the small group sharing.

  5. Tell the groups that several volunteers will be asked to share their defining moment with the whole group upon completion of the small group exercise, if they are comfortable doing so.

  6. Debrief the team building activity by asking the group how they reacted to the team building activity - to the experience of telling their own story and hearing the stories of their coworkers.

  7. Continue to debrief the team building activity by asking the large group if participants noticed themes in the stories. Ask if participants found commonalities in the stories shared in the small or large groups.

    One theme that I often find mentioned is that the stories are all about receiving recognition. Many stories center around promotions, successful product launches, and moments of company recognition. Another frequently found theme is participating in a new work experience that changed their view of their interests and capabilities. Another is coaching or a significant comment from a valued coworker or boss.

    Let your participants draw their own conclusion; don't tell them or lead them. This is their opportunity to share and appreciate their insights and thoughts with each other.

  8. When the team building activity discussion is finished, ask the participants if they have anything they'd like to add to the discussion before moving on with the rest of the session.

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