The HR Juggler

Breaking The Ice

Posted on: March 10, 2011

I find ice-breakers are hugely useful for all manner of HR related events: team days, inductions, training workshops…

I heard about a great ice-breaker yesterday, which I’m going to try next week at a team day. It is called ‘people bingo’ and the way it works is that everyone is asked to submit in advance an interesting or unusual fact about themselves.  These are then collated bingo stylee and each participant has a card with a list of interesting facts down one side. Their mission is to chat to every other person in the room and fill in all of the names next to the relevant fact. Cool, hey?! 

I’m really looking forward to using it with the team in question, who don’t know eachother very well and are seeking to find ways to collaborate, build trust and form strong networking relationships.

I’d love to hear what kind of ice-breakers and team activities you do to help people get to know each other and start interacting and relaxing. So, tell me…how do you break the ice?

15 Responses to "Breaking The Ice"

This is a great idea that I will now use!
Mine is that everyone tells 2 truths and 1 lie at the start of the day. At the end the others have to work out which one was the lie! I also have a silly prize for who gets the most right!
Gets people talking at the start of the day and listening throughout to pick up on clues to the lie!

Great idea – can imagine that works really well!

Alison, you may as well have a placard at the top asking for all L&Ders to stop by and comment 🙂

Here’s two for you, fairly easy to do. One is to draw a shield, split it into four sections, and then in each draw (yes, draw as in sketch as in a picture): what you do at work, in your free time, what others know you for, and your strengths.

The second is to get everyone to pair up (or trio up), say hello to one another in their small groups, and then they have to introduce their respective partners.

I like the bingo one, sounds like you’re going to have a good way to start the meeting!

Hey Sukh, thanks for commenting. I have also done a version of the shield one, which works really well.

Glad the bingo one is new to you too – will let you know how it goes!

How about this in an HR environment as an ice-breaker? Everyone has to guess the weight/age/religion/sexual orientation of the person next to them.

Would that be OK, or is it crossing the line?

Hmm, Stephen, I would suggest your attempt at satire there has failed. Surely you can come up with something far wittier and humorous than such an obvious pop at HR?

It’s not a pop at HR.

Why would anyone have a pop at HR?

Souds like it would be right at home in an episode of The Office! For real life…………over the line and see me after class, Mr O’Donnell!! 😉

Sorry Alison.
My point is that I have seen some truly cringe-worthy ice-breakers, as well as some crackers. Usually their success is down to the personality and friendly nature of the person leading it, especially when it’s often done with a very cynical crowd (in my experience recruiters and businessmen/women).

No worries Stephen, I completely understand that these type of things can be very variable in how they are delivered.

If that was a serious suggestion I think you may have to update your thinking.

I regularly do an ice-breaker based on Nancy Kline’s Time to Think:
1) each person has to say one thing that they’ve done in the last week / month that they are really proud of (anything from baking HR cupcakes to getting a promotion etc)
2) to then turn to the person on their left and say one thing about them that they really admire. Even if they don’t know each other, they can get inspiration from the response from (1) above.
With teams that really know each other this ice-breaker is very powerful.

I’ve done the Bingoone – and it’s fun!

Alison, great idea and thanks for sharing this.

I often asked people to reveal a “factoid” about themselves during introductions – something like a hobbie or unusual interest, then record the “factoid” on a flip chart. All sorts came out, from WindSurf Champion to Jazz Singer, much to everyone’s amazement.

Another one is the “what’s in common” game. Email a couple of questions (maybe 10) out in advance for people to think about. On the day they have 5-10 mins to answer at least 5 of those and do it by drawing the answer. You can also ask them to do it in advance and bring it in.
Get everyone to guess what question they answered 1st, then ask the individual to reveal their answers. At the end summarise and record things people have in common. Usually there’s one or two things they all have in common with each other.
I have some pre-set questions if anyone is interested – drop me a note.

Jose 🙂

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