It's important for team members to build a personal connection in order to work together effectively as a cohesive unit. This is just as true for intact teams, such as employees who work together in the same department or an organization's management team, as it is for temporary or special-purpose teams, like ones created to work on specific projects or solve a particular problem. Team building activities that involve asking and answering questions is a great way to help team members get to know one another.
10 Icebreaker Questions for Teams
Ice breaker questions are good to ask when forming a new team, as people will need to start to warm up to each other before they'll be comfortable digging deeper.
- What is something interesting you have learned in the past month?
- What has been your favorite vacation so far?
- What is your most unusual skill or talent?
- What childhood toy did you love the most?
- What is something (that is true!) that no one would guess about you?
- What one key skill do you think everyone should have?
- If you could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
- What is your favorite season of the year?
- What historical event would you most like to have witnessed?
- Which celebrity do people say you look like?
10 Funny Team-Building Questions
Getting people to laugh can be a great way to start building a sense of camaraderie with team members early in the team-building process, as well as to refresh it as time goes by.
- What superpower would you most like to have?
- How long has the oldest item in your refrigerator been expired?
- Which would you choose - the ability to read minds or to be invisible?
- What's your biggest pet peeve about the company break room?
- If you had free rein to redecorate the office, what's the first thing you'd change?
- If you were a snack food, what kind would you be?
- If you were a fruit, what kind would you be?
- What's the worst hairstyle you ever had?
- Which cartoon character would be best-suited to play you in your bio-pic.
- What's the strangest food you've eaten (and actually liked!)?
10 Questions for Digging Deeper
When your team is ready to go beyond sharing general information or a few laughs, the questions can become more focused on helping the members get to know one another better.
- What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in life?
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
What do you want people to think of when your name comes up in conversation?
What are your two favorite stress-relief strategies?
If you had the opportunity to change something about yourself, what one thing would you choose?
If you could turn back time and talk to yourself on the day you graduated from high school, what advice would you give yourself?
What is the most important lesson you learned from your first job?
What do you miss the most from childhood?
What song would make the best soundtrack for your life story?
What is your most prized possession?
10 Team-Focused Questions
Team members need to get a sense of what roles may be most natural for each person. This will help each person start to see where they fit and what unique contributions other members can make to the team.
- What do you see as the area where you can offer the great contribution to the team?
- What personal trait most helps you function as an effective team member?
- What do you most admire about the person sitting directly across from you?
- What is something you believe that everyone in this room probably has in common?
- What skills do you have that you would like to use more of at work?
- What traits/skills do you most value in team members?
- How do you see your participation with this team impacting your long-term career goals?
- How has a coworker come to your rescue in a situation where he or she was not obligated to get involved?
- What is your favorite part about being part of a team?
- What do you see as the biggest potential barriers to team success?
Of course, these are just a few examples of many possible team building questions. You can use these questions as-is, or use the list as a starting point to come up with your own questions. If you come up with your own questions, there are a few guidelines to follow:
- Don't ask questions that can be answered with a 'yes' or 'no' response. The objective of this type of activity is not to get the answer, but to spur conversation.
- Don't ask anything that would provide you with information that people shouldn't be asked to share at work - particularly protected characteristic information or anything overly personal or that could contribute to hostile environment harassment. As a rule of thumb, if it is something you shouldn't ask in a job interview, don't ask it in this context.
- Be sensitive to cultural or individual differences when asking questions. Don't ask questions with premises that might not apply to everyone in the group. For example, don't ask about specific holiday or national celebrations, as those might not apply to everyone on the team.
Building a cohesive team has to start with building relationships - which has to start with communication. You can start to encourage team members to interact and get comfortable with one another by asking one or two icebreaker or funny questions at the beginning of initial team meetings. As people start to get comfortable sharing this kind of non-threatening information in a lighthearted way, relationships will start to develop. Over time, you'll be able to advance to questions designed to dig a bit deeper and touch on perceptions of what it means to be a team member. Through this kind of communication in a safe environment, trust will start to develop and the group will begin to advance through the stages of team development to become a cohesive unit capable of achieving goals and objectives.