Last month we had the pleasure of hearing from one of our former third years, Clara. In her blog post, she shared about the importance of building a culture of encouragement in your school. It’s important as leaders to model on your team what you want your students to look like. Developing a team that is unified and prefers one another as Paul instructed us to in Romans 12 will leak unity, love, and honor into your school and students. Below are seven exercises to get your team started in building unity.
1. Two Truths and a Lie
This is a simple game that almost everyone knows. It’s a great way to break the ice with your team and have some fun getting to know each other better. Have each team member write down two truths about themselves and one lie. After everyone has written down their truths and lies, have each person share the three things they have written down. Everyone else has to guess which is the lie. This is a fun game to get to know some fun facts about your team members.
2. Have Fun Together
This is so simple, just have fun together. It’s so easy to get caught up in work when you’re building and running a school. Plan a meeting with your team where you don’t do any work (and can’t talk about work stuff) but you just have fun. Have a potluck and play a game. Show each other your goofy sides and enjoy one another. While it’s important to get work done, it’s equally as important to enjoy one another and have fun! Having fun helps to improve your team’s moods and emotions, as well as build teamwork, trust, and keeps your people on your team longer. It’s important to include fun in your normal life to help with stress, and we want to be truly invested in our teams’ lives as well.
If you have a little bit of difficulty with fun, listen to Justin and Abi Stumvoll’s podcast The Connected Life, episode 15: The Power of Adding Fun to Your Life!
3. Team Core Values
This exercise is perfect for the beginning of the year, especially during the planning stages of your school. If you have not started your school yet, gather your team together and create a list of core values that you want your team to live out (these can be different from your school’s/student’s core values).
For example, on Team Moore, some of our core values are “hearts over tasks,” “having fun,” and “serving one another,” whereas in BSSM our core values are “God is good,” “we are free and responsible,” “we are generous like our Father,” and more. This doesn’t mean we do not believe in and live by the school’s beliefs, it means we use our team core values to determine how we treat each other. Everything our team does comes out of our core values. For instance, we are not afraid to stop our work day if a team member is having a difficult time in their personal life and spend time ministering to them. We are okay with being late to a meeting if it means our team members feel seen, heard, and loved.
If your school is already established and running, take some time each year to review your team core values. Ask your team to speak into what each value means to them and how they display it in their lives. You will be surprised with the different ways people express the same core value!
“Having set core values will guide your team throughout the year and give your team accountability and direction when hard times and conflict arises.”
4. Encouragement Lines
This exercise is perfect when your team is just getting to know each other. Split your team in half and have one half face the other in two lines (you might recognize this exercise from Clara’s blog post, How to Build a Culture of Encouragement). Have them encourage the person in front of them for 30 seconds, then have them switch. Don’t let them go into the prophetic so they can lean into actual encouragement. Remind your team that you don’t have to know someone well to encourage them. After both partners encourage one another, have one line move one person to the right and repeat the exercise. Continue moving your people down the line until they get back to their original partners.
5. Whose Story Is It Anyway?
This is a fun game to play to get to know some of the stories about your teammates. If you have a team larger than five people, split them into three groups. Give each person on your team a slip of paper and have them write down a short, three- to four-sentence story about themselves (it has to be a true story). After they write their stories, have them fold them up and put them in a jar, bag, or hat. Assign one person to be in charge of the game.
The person in charge will draw three stories out and read them to the group. After the leader has read all the stories, the three people whose stories were picked will go up to the front. It’s important that they don’t reveal which story is theirs.
Each group will get a chance to ask each person at the front one question (so three total questions per team). The goal of the questions is to find out which story belongs to which person. Points are given to the teams that correctly guesses whose story belongs to each person, and a point is given for each person’s team that successfully evades detection.
6. Recognizing One Another
This is a great exercise to do near the end of the year. This exercise is meant to build up your team’s appreciation for one another and recognize each other’s strengths. Ask your group the following questions:
- What is something you’ve learned from another teammate this year?
- What is something you’ve recognized one of your teammates has accomplished in their lives this year?
Have your team share their answers with the group and encourage one another.
7. Prayer Partners
Every month, pair your team up with someone new. Have them commit to praying for one another throughout the month. You can even have them meet once a week to connect and pray for each other. Every month switch up the partners so your team has time to get to know one another and sow into each other’s destinies.
We hope that you find these exercises helpful in building unity on your team. Please share with us your team building exercises in the comments below!
Are you looking for more resources on how to build unity and empowerment on your team? Check out The Culture of Empowerment by Steve Backlund and read it as a group today!