How to rock your next team building session

team building sessionRecently I learned of a unique team building session idea that I have been itching to try out. I was able to wrangle a friend into testing it out at her office, and it had very positive results. Today we’ll be looking at what I’ve come to call the Twenty Minute Challenge. (I heard someone at HRevolution mention this a few weeks back, but I can’t remember who! If someone knows, please tell me so the person can get the credit for this.)

The purpose of the Twenty Minute Challenge

More so now than ever, we need people on our teams who can think quickly, respond coherently during high pressure situations, and present complex information effectively. This team building session is focused on helping your people do all three of those things well.

How it works

Let’s say you have ten people on your team. You break them into teams and give each team this short list of instructions:

  • You have ten minutes to read your book.
  • You will have five minutes to create a short presentation on your book’s main topics.
  • You will share your presentation with the group for three to five minutes.

And then you set them loose to tackle the challenge ahead. Sounds interesting, right?

Just to make sure you’re totally prepared, you’ll need a few materials to facilitate this team building session:

  • Writing utensils and paper for each participant
  • A computer for each team to develop slides, conduct research, etc.
  • 3-5 different books on business-related topics
    OR
    3-5 eBooks on business-related topics (these free ones would be useful)
  • A presentation screen and projector (Optional, if you plan to have them present formally)

Books to consider

If you don’t already have some books in mind, here are a few I would recommend. This list is not exhaustive; just a handful that I have reviewed and can vouch for in terms of high quality ideas and concepts that would be valuable for HR, recruiting, and business leaders.

Just a quick note: I would steer clear of narrative-based or parable books. These are valuable tools and have their place, but they are harder to glean short tidbits of information from in the style necessary for this sort of team building session.

Real life example

These team building sessions always sound great on paper. But how did it play out in a real situation? The note below is from a regular reader and a new blogger in the HR space. Kristina is the Office Manager for the local Epsco Staffing company here in Huntsville and uses exercises like these to keep her team sharp. Now I’ll turn it over to Kristina to explain their experience.

Kristina: We had 3 small groups of 2-3 people each and used 101 Strategies for Recruiting Success, The Levity Effect & Finding Keepers as our books.

I explained the project and then assigned each group their book. Of course they all looked terrified and upset that they only had 10 minutes to “read” the book! One team took off with their book to a quiet place in the office and started reading chapter 1 right off! The other 2 groups started with a plan. One group read the key points out loud so the other could take notes and one group divided up the reading, note taking and online research immediately!

101 Strategies for Recruiting Success– This group approached the task by pulling chapter titles and bullet points from the book to summarize. They fed the info into a power point presentation and one person spoke about the book while the other person flipped the PowerPoint. What was really great about this group is I’ve been watching their ability to work together as a team decline over the last couple of weeks and this was just the spark they needed to realize they can work well together and produce good results! Now that they’ve been reminded about that I can cross that off my to do list… ;)

The Levity Effect– This group was hilarious! Note taking/reading through the key points & on-line research. They probably freaked out the least about the “10 minute rule” and that was no surprise to me. They immediately divided the work up and started their tasks. One of them googled the book and was linked directly to your post-so I think you and they had the same key points! This book was a good choice for our group because we absolutely believe in having fun at work and I think it made them feel better that it’s not just a “Kristina idea.” :-) They pulled ideas from the book and shared them with us as things they want us to start doing in the office and asked the group some “hard interview questions” so they get bonus points!

Finders Keepers– This group was the one that almost tackled me to get to a quiet space to start reading. I didn’t see them take a notebook or anything, just the book! I was a little shocked and very curious how that was going to turn out. They ended up only getting through one chapter, but they were successful in turning that into a three minute presentation. I asked them about their approach and it was attributed to the “leader” of that groups old school paper pushing ways. She didn’t want to give a presentation on something she hadn’t read so her best solution was to start reading and see how far she could get!

The power of teamwork

Ultimately they all had a different ways of getting to the end, but they all worked together in their teams! The first 2 groups did the best at getting as much information from the book down to an informative summary. All 3 groups did well on their “presentation on the fly!” The best part was when they started talking about how well they all worked as a team and it was kind of like an “ah-ha” moment in the office today (it’s amazing how quickly work can be done when we all work with each other instead of against each other)! It wasn’t met with resistance, they had fun with it and they are interested in reading some of the books we used! As many hours as my girls work I never thought they would want to do some outside of work reading, but I was wrong!

Wrapping up

This has the ability to bring teams closer together and challenge them in an entertaining, yet informative way. If you’re looking for more ideas on the benefits of team building or want more great content, feel free to subscribe for free email updates!

Anyone else have a favorite team building session that you would like to share?  

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