I get asked all the time for team building exercises. And, as most of us know, most activities for teams don’t cut the mustard. In other words, they’re lame.

Speed dating at workBut, some do work, like “speed dating at work”. Based around questions, this exercise works. Part of the fun? Instead of introducing the activity as “team building questions”, you introduce it as “speed dating questions”. Just be clear. The intention is not for your coworkers to enter into romantic relationships – but to learn more about them and for them to learn more about each other.

So, let’s get started with our team building questions, ahem, speed dating questions.

5 questions to start with:

  • What’s the one thing I could do to be a better co-worker?
  • I’m having this work challenge, what would you do?
  • What’s your best lesson learned/best practice around X (time management, customer service)?
  • What’s the one thing you think you/we/I could do to improve our team/department/organization?
  • What’s your biggest workplace challenge and how could the team help?

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How to set up the activity:

  • Set up 16 chairs (for 16 people) with 8 chairs facing 8 chairs – it’s up to you if you want a table between them. (You can do this same setup with fewer or more people.)
  • In addition, you need one person to be the facilitator/timer.
  • Have one row stay seated while the other row moves every 7 minutes (use a timer).
  • Set the ground rule of no conversation hoggers or hiders.
  • Half way through each round yell, “halftime!”
  • And then yell “switch!” when it’s time for the moving row to move down a seat.

There is one kicker. In this scenario seven people will not have time to talk to one another – the people in their own row. They will want to know each others’ thoughts as well which means the conversation will continue back at their desks, over coffee or lunch and last well beyond the exercise. In essence, you leave them wanting to know more about each other. This short little exercise turns into real deal team building at work!