Team Building – Morale & Relationship Boosting Exercises

Team of dental professionals

The Pediatric Dental Assistants Association is dedicated to helping your team operate at the highest levels. How do you help a group of professional individuals learn to operate smoothly and efficiently as a team? They need opportunities to get out of their normal bubble and begin to think about each other in different ways.

If you want your team members to think about each other in a different way, you have to get them to interact in a different way. Team building exercises are a great way to help your team bond, develop empathy, and learn to appreciate each other in new ways.

Team Building Exercises

Test the teamwork and creativity of your team with these tasks designed to help your team communicate and compete in a practical way. Build trust and have a little fun with team building.

Marshmallow Challenge

Supplies: Uncooked spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow

One of the most entertaining activities that your team can work together on is the Marshmallow Challenge, made popular by a TED talk by Peter Skillman. The task is simple: Give each group 20 minutes to construct the tallest tower they can out of the provided materials, and the marshmallow has to be on top.

Yard Golf

Supplies: 2 sets of bolas, and a yard golf “ladder”

This is a popular family game that is good for taking out on the front lawn of your dental practice. The components are easy enough to make yourself, though most stores that feature outdoor gaming implements will carry this one.

The game involves two teams, each with their own sets of bolas’, essentially a pair of golf balls connected by a short rope. The target is the opposing ladder made of three rungs, each with a value of either one, two, or three points. The objective of the game is simple: score more points than your opponent by tossing the bolas so that it wraps around the rung of the ladder.

The Egg Drop

Supplies: Office supplies, an elevated position, and a dozen eggs

Many of us may have done this event in high school, but it stands the test of time as a good contest to use your ingenuity to defy physics. Divide your team members into groups of two or three and present them with an egg and a variety of supplies from the office (paper clips, tissues, paper, rubber bands, etc). Give everyone adequate time to design a contraption to protect their egg from a drop!

Toxic Waste

Supplies: 2 buckets, ropes, bungee cords, a stool, and water

Can your team move a bucket of hazardous waste (water) into a safe container without spilling? To set up for the challenge, place your buckets (one empty, one with water) on a stool and use a rope to create a circle around them. The larger the circle, the more challenging the exercise will be. Using the materials at hand and without entering the circle, the group must try to empty the toxic waste into the empty bucket.

Picture Pieces

Supplies: A well known image or cartoon to be destroyed, scissors, paper, and drawing materials, rulers

This activity is a metaphor that demonstrates how everyone’s contribution helps the group result. To prepare, you’ll need to cut up the image into puzzle pieces. Cut one puzzle piece for each team member, and their job will be to reproduce the image 4-5 times larger on a separate piece of paper (prepared square paper and puzzle pieces will help them get proportions right). The group should not be aware of the original image, but their goal is to reproduce a giant copy of it.

Road Race

Supplies: Office supplies, recycle bins, and misc (rubber bands, paper clips, paper towel tubes, cards, straws, tape, etc)

In “Road Race”, each team is provided with a bin of identical supplies and tasked with building a toy car. The car needs to be able to move under its own power, and the team that builds the car that goes the farthest is the winner!

Scavenger Hunt

Supplies: Pen, Paper, smartphones

This modern-day spin of the classic scavenger hunt gives everyone a chance to see how the others did. Breaking your team into three groups, each will have a list of objectives to find within a certain time limit. Smartphones are great for capturing photos or video footage of the scavenger hunt in action, and have the added bonus of being great to share on the social media feeds of your practice. If you need ideas for your own scavenger hunt, this page has quite a few.

Tips for getting the most out of team building

Definition of TEAM

Whatever the task, it isn’t just about the enjoyment of the activity. There are a few key takeaways to focus on as the leader of the team building exercises.

  • Pay attention to team members that are disregarded when they attempt to contribute, and help recognize and use their contributions.
  • It’s not a one-person job — many times, a leader will take over and attempt to do things their way. While natural leadership can be a good trait, we are trying to teach collaboration.
  • Don’t be afraid to try things and fail, and don’t let team members feel bad for failure.

The PDAA is the only organization dedicated to training and careers of pediatric dental assistants. I’d invite you to learn how the PDAA can help your dental practice.

And if you’re serious about improving the profitability of your pediatric dental practice, make sure to download our FREE guide to help increase your practice profitability. It includes 7 unique ways!

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~ Dr. Rhea Haugseth