14 Skill-Building Activities To Help Your Team Develop

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Supervisors and managers can use a variety of professional development techniques, methods and opportunities to help their teams or employees build their skills. One great strategy that many business leaders use to encourage their employees' abilities is to incorporate activities into their company culture. Using skill-building activities can help professionals foster new abilities and help companies raise their employee retention rates.

In this article, we discuss what skill-building activities are, explore their benefits and list 14 different activities that you might want to try with your team members or employees.

What Are Skill-Building Activities?

Skill-building activities are activities you can introduce to your employees with the purpose of improving a specific skill or set of skills. Business leaders use these activities to help their employees grow and perform better at their jobs. Skill-building activities can help improve a wide range of skills, such as project management, communication, teamwork and programming.

Related: 12 Useful 21st-Century Skills And How They Benefit You

Why Are Skill-Building Activities Important?

Skill-building activities matter because they can help organisations allow their employees to reach their full potential. It is often more efficient to improve the skills of your existing employees rather than hiring new employees who already may possess those skills. For example, a software company may have a great customer service agent, except that they struggle with written communication. Through these activities, they can improve the employee's written communication skills, which can optimise the business's operations.

Related: 13 Important Judgement Skills And How To Improve Them

14 Skill-Building Activities

Following are 14 different skill-building activities you may want to assign your team to help them hone their professional abilities:

1. Product training

Assign your team to use and get to know the products from your product development team. For an extra challenge, tell the representatives to try to recreate common problems that some users encounter when using these products. This direct experience with your company's products may allow your employees to provide more detailed solutions to customer issues.

2. Daily problem scenario

Give your team a new hypothetical problem to work on each day. Have them imagine how they would handle this scenario and discuss different solutions. Imagining various hypothetical issues and solutions can help employees develop their critical thinking abilities, such as problem-solving and inference.

Related: 63 Meaningful Quotes About Sales To Motivate Your Team

3. Untangle

Have your team stand in a close circle, close their eyes and then reach out to clasp any two hands they can find. After everyone has a hold of two hands, they open their eyes and attempt to untangle themselves without releasing anyone's hand. Through this activity, employees can learn how to balance both their leadership skills with their teamwork abilities. Only by each team member both taking initiative and collaborating with others can they successfully emerge from the tangle.

Related: How To Start A Group Discussion (And Tips To Lead One)

4. Workplace trivia

Create a list of trivia questions related to your team or company. Strive for a balance of easier questions and harder ones, such as asking specific details about your worksite or fun historical facts. Employees can then either answer these questions as individuals or in small groups and compete to get the most correct answers. A fun workplace trivia contest can help employees recall shared memories, which can foster stronger relationships and teamwork skills.

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5. Yes and

In this improvisation game, divide your group into pairs. Give each pair a scenario in which one of them plays a client. The employee acting as the customer service agent can only agree with whatever the hypothetical client says. Performing this activity may help employees learn how to stay positive even during challenging customer interactions and rapidly adjust to altered circumstances.

6. Leadership analysis

Have individuals or small teams discuss leaders they admire. These leaders may be from your company or other professionals, such as those famous in the industry for their expertise or teachers they once had. Instruct teams to create a list of qualities that these leaders possess. Bring everyone together at the end to discuss both common traits and distinctions among their chosen leaders.

Prompting a conversation about leadership characteristics can help employees recognise the value of both commonalities among leaders and of various leadership styles. These reflections may allow professionals to consider how they can foster their unique leadership style while embodying important leadership traits.

Related: Guide: How To Create An Individual Development Plan

7. Hula hoop

Instruct your team to stand in a circle holding hands with the people on either side of them. Briefly unlock one set of hands to place a hula hoop on someone's arm. Ask your team to pass the hula hoop all the way around the circle while keeping their hands clasped. With this exercise, you can teach employees how to problem-solve unusual situations while working with a team.

8. Minefield

Set up a simple “minefield” or obstacle course, such as pieces of paper on the ground or orange traffic cones. Ask everyone to divide into pairs. One person from each pair goes to the start of the obstacle course and puts on a blindfold. The person in the pair without a blindfold then guides the other through the obstacle course using only a limited set of words, such as 'left' or 'jump.' This exercise encourages employees to think about their communication styles and techniques in new ways, which can help build both interpersonal and customer service skills.

Related: Guide: How To Create An Individual Development Plan

9. Team-building event

Ask your team to create their own team-building activity. Instruct them to first consider the skill they want to develop, then imagine the possible ways they can foster that skill in themselves and one another. This activity gives employees experience in leading a project where the stakes are low. Project leadership skills that this activity may help build include problem-solving, benefit analysis, time management and communication.

Related: 18 Leadership Soft Skills And Their Benefits in the Workplace

10. Napkin sketch

Ask individuals or small groups to make a list of problems. You might decide to make these problems specific to your company or ask employees to think on a larger scale, such as about issues affecting their community or the world. Then ask each person or group to draw a solution to this problem on the back of a napkin as a chart, graph, diagram or another type of sketch. After about 30 minutes of this, give each individual or group a chance to explain their solution to others.

Encouraging employees to make designs on the backs of napkins for potential or actual problems can help foster creative-thinking abilities. It might also improve their ability to share ideas with others through both verbal communication and visual representations.

Related: What Are Creativity Skills? (With Examples And Benefits)

11. Social media engagement

Divide the group into small teams and have each team create a single post for your company's social media feed. Upload one of these devised posts every day. After all the updates are online, examine the engagement statistics for each post that occurred within its first 24 hours posted, such as how many likes or shares it received. Have the entire group discuss these statistics and what strategies or content types potentially made some of these posts more successful than others. This activity can help participants learn technical skills related to social media marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO).

12. Confronting fears

Have each participant write down an anxiety they have related to their professions or the company. For example, they might feel nervous about respectfully handling upset customers or encountering a task they have never completed before. Divide individuals into small groups and have them discuss possible strategies for how to overcome their anxiety and approach that problem, such as talking about who they could ask for help or what company resources they could use.

Asking your team members to discuss their professional anxieties can help them build skills related to confronting those anxieties in reality, like problem-solving abilities and adaptability. They might also learn valuable project management skills, including resource allocation and leadership.

Related: What Areas For Professional Development Can You Improve

13. Spreadsheet challenge

Give participants a database to work with. Ask them to create a spreadsheet that easily presents the most essential information or statistics from that database. For added difficulty, ensure that they must use different spreadsheet formulas to process the data. The spreadsheet challenge can be a great activity for honing your employees' data management and analysis skills. It may also aid them in learning technical skills, like navigating various software functions and using algorithms.

Related: 10 Tips To Develop Your Reading Comprehension Skills

14. Socratic method

Ask the team to separate into small groups. Present each group with a simple concept for a project or product and ask them to create a list of as many questions as they can think of about the concept. To help each group generate these questions, you might want to present them with different categories to consider about the product or project, such as the development timeline or user experience (UX).

By asking participants to think of questions about a business idea, you can help them foster creative-thinking and problem-solving skills. This activity may encourage employees to consider concepts from different perspectives, such as a project manager and as a prospective customer.

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