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Lead Your Team Managing

3 Icebreakers to Get to Know Your Team

3 Icebreakers to Get to Know Your Team
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

Working with a team that is comfortable with one another can make all the difference in business. Even if you have contrasting roles, you still share companywide goals.

"Just as with any group of people who needs to work well together, whether in-office or remote, it's really important to have a solid rapport with one another and be comfortable," said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist for FlexJobs and Remote.co. "But especially in a remote environment, where we can't really rely on body language or other visual cues, we have to pay special attention to communicating in writing and verbally in an open and friendly way."

Getting to know your colleagues isn't easy, especially during hectic work hours and among arduous assignments. You need to schedule time and events that bring your workers together to create a lasting, professional bond. Experts shared icebreakers to help you better know your employees.

New employees might be timid yet eager to get to know everyone. Make the transition easier for them by creating first-day traditions with your team. That way, everyone can be a part of the fun while treating the new worker like an important addition to the organization. Here are some examples of first-day traditions:

Munchkins. "On their first day, each new hire gets a box of Dunkin' Donuts munchkins. This encourages employees to walk up to them and introduce themselves (and enjoy a munchkin!) to take the pressure off of having to approach people on your first day." – Shira Almeleh, communications manager at Fundera

Escape rooms. "A great activity for new employees to onboard with are the increasingly popular escape rooms … Since most facilities have multiple rooms, and various scenarios, one could hypothetically entertain a group from as little as two people, all the way up to 50 or more. Participants are crowded into themed rooms and are usually given one hour (and dozens of clues) to solve a complex riddle and escape the room. It's the ultimate teamwork-oriented event and tests your new employee's abilities to stay calm, communicate clearly, and problem-solve together." –  Ben Huber, personal finance expert at DollarSprout

Hi Cards. "Before each employee joins, we send them a Trello board with a little onboarding. One of the most important parts are our Hi Cards. Each employee has their own [card], with a photo, age, role and some creative questions (what city I would be, what song do I love waking up to, what's a movie I would rewatch, etc.) The new employee feels like he got to know everyone just a bit better, and starting a conversation on a first day is easier." – Tatiana Rehmova, media relations and content strategist at Enhancv

Games are a great way to get your team thinking out of the box, collaborating, and cheering each other on while spending downtime together. Some examples are:

Team charades. "The goal of charades is simple: A person must act out a word or phrase for someone else to guess without giving the answer away by talking or writing. Before you start, write down six or so words on small pieces of paper and place them into an empty tissue box or anything that ensures they are not visible. Divide your colleagues into two teams. Have a person from one team pull a piece of paper from the box and act out the word for his or her teammates to guess. Then do the same for the other group. Keep alternating until there are no more words. Whichever team guesses the most correct answers wins." – Justin Lavelle, CCO of BeenVerified

Video games. "In the past, our office had a clear division between departments, until one day, management came up with a cunning plan to use video games to bring everyone closer together. We organized a companywide Mario Kart tournament with a $100 cash prize going to the victor. During the month of the tournament, epic battles of speed and chaos became an after-work tradition … It was a truly enjoyable experience that absolutely shattered the ice that had [been] previously present between the departments. The company has never been closer as a community since the Nintendo Switch and Mario Kart came into our lives." – Matthew Kerr, career adviser and hiring manager at ResumeGenius

The coin game. "This one is a classic. Pass around a coin or two and ask each employee to share something they were doing during the year that the coin was minted. This is always sure to break the tension and ice while establishing comfort and familiarity between co-workers." – Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics

Healthy competition never hurt anyone. In fact, it often motivates individuals to be their best selves. Here are a few examples to try with your team:

Health challenges. "These allow anyone throughout the company to join in on challenges, like 30-day plank challenges, eat-healthy challenges, and others. We can hold each other accountable and celebrate our wins together." – Brie Reynolds

Photo challenges. "At FlexJobs, our mission is to help people find a better way to work, so we've challenged our team to share all the ways that having a flexible, remote job makes work and life better. On our Facebook page, you can see photos shared by FlexJobs team members walking their dogs, going to yoga class and doing other things that make our days better." – Brie Reynolds

Sammi Caramela

Sammi Caramela has always loved words. When she isn't working as a Purch B2B staff writer, she's writing (and furiously editing) her first novel, reading a YA book with a third cup of coffee, or attending local pop-punk concerts. The only time Sammi doesn't play it safe is when she's writing. Reach her by email, or check out her blog at sammisays.org.