10 things that go into picking a great teambuilding icebreaker

Recently I received an email from a Human Resources colleague who I have enormous respect for.  She was looking for some ideas for teambuilding icebreakers for an upcoming event.  I get this kind of request fairly frequently and have made it a practice to not suggest any specific activities.

Here’s why in my response below, where I outline 10 things to consider when you’re picking a great teambuilding icebreaker:

I make it a practice to not recommend icebreakers to folks without knowing more about the setting.  When I’m planning activities for workshops I lead for example, these are some of the things that go into the selection:

    • number of people
    • how well (or not) they know each other
    • are they from the same organization or different oganizations
    • if they are from the same organization:
      •  do they work in close physical proximity or not
      •  are there any issues I should know about that are going on recently in the workplace (eg pending bargaining, conflict etc)
      •  what is the organizational culture like
    • are there any access issues
    • what is the range of ages
    • what is the gender breakdown
    • what’s happening before and after the activity
    • what is the room like; the seating arrangements etc

(hmmm this has the makings of a blog post me thinks)

I love that you thought to ask me (really, I’m honoured as I hold you in very high esteem) and hope you understand my reasoning.

You may be interested in this online resource for learning activities: www.trainingmakescents.com.  You can sign up for a free newsletter that includes teambuilding icebreakers; I’ve found the activities to vary in applicability to my audiences but there are some good ones.

Simply & sincerely


P.S. She responded very graciously and understood my reasoning.

What about you?  What ideas do you have for picking a great teambuilding icebreaker?


2 Responses to “10 things that go into picking a great teambuilding icebreaker”

  1. Dyana Valentine Says:
    November 17th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you (imagine large whooshing FYEW! coming out of me here):

    I get this request SO often AND even though it makes me feel scratchy, I usually try to send out a few ideas. Thank you for voicing my unearthed concern and for giving me an excellent script to use to respond next time. I also LOVE all of your resources. I think it means the most to me that you, a seasoned trainer, use these resources and don’t refer them lightly. You are such a gift (to me and to my work!).

  2. Lee-Anne Ragan Says:
    November 20th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    Verrrrry interesting to hear that you get this request a lot too. It’s tough for me to say, in effect, no but it’s helped to frame WHY I don’t like to give recommendations for specific activities. So glad you found it helpful and that you’ll use it.

    Catching your FYEW! and sending it back at you!

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