Sign Off: Activity to Break the Ice with New Colleagues

If you have a big meeting where people are coming together who do not know each other very well, this is a fun way to get people to mingle. Create a “check list” where each participant designates their own activity for the group to do in order to earn a signature. It creates a simple and safe way for even the most introverted person to connect with a stranger.

At the end of a designated time period, everyone who has earned all the signatures wins a prize OR is entered into a raffle to win a prize.

My friend and colleague, Dorothea Brennan of CrowsNest Facilitation, LLC, introduced me to this activity. She and I used it with a team in which about 12 remote team members were coming to their corporate headquarters for a 2-day team building event. Everyone at the corporate office created an activity, and during breaks and meals, the team members milled around the office and met every staff member. Several team members told us that at first they thought it was silly, but because of the activity, they had met everyone and found it to be valuable. (See a modified version of their Checklist at the end of this blog.)

Overview:

  1. Purpose: To get a large group to mingle and connect with everyone at a meeting, especially when they do not know each other very well.
  2. Description: Each person determines a simple activity that others must do in order to win their signature. These activities are compiled onto one sheet of paper.  During assigned times, everyone mingles and completes the activities and earns signatures. People with the most signatures are awarded a prize.
  3. Benefits: Provides a safe, fun way to get people to interact. The structure works well for introverts because it provides a purposeful reason to connect to each person.
  4. Variations: Award a prize for each person who gets signatures from everyone OR collect the Checklists with the most signatures and draw one for a grand prize winner.
  5. Time Estimate: (Depends on how many signatures are required.) Anticipate 1-2 minutes for each signature needed. The activity can be done during breaks, networking time, or lunch.
  6. Supplies Needed: Checklists and pens. (The checklists need to be created and printed BEFORE the activity.)

Instructions:

  1. Prior to your event, collect a simple “activity” from each person. Encourage simple, light-hearted activities that take no more than one minute.  Some examples include:
    • Name the system you go to submit your hours and expenses.
    • Go find the secret password posted over the copier and then tell me what it is. (Note: you would put a secret password on the copier)
    • Tell me one thing you love about working at our organization.
    • You have 20 questions to figure out what my favorite sports team is.
    • Impersonate your favorite tv or movie character.
  2. Create the Checklist (see example below)
  3. Print copies (one per person).
  4. At your event, explain the activity, including any prizes that will be awarded.  Tell them to find the people listed on the Checklist, do the activity beside their name, and then ask that person to “sign off” that you completed it.  The goal is to “earn” signatures from everyone.
  5. Monitor to be sure it is working, encouraging people to participate as needed.
  6. When the designated time is up, announce the winner(s). Be sure to tell them that, “Everyone is a winner because now we all have met all of our co-workers.”

Example of a Checklist:

Go find… (Name) And do …. (Activity) Signature
Jennifer Find Jennifer’s workspace without asking anyone where it is and write down the number next to your name on the wall.
Privansh Do the “Chicken Dance” to earn my signature.
Sharitha My primary office nickname is _________.
Jada I have two “fur babies” – what are their names?
Kenneth What was the first concert you attended? Spell the artist’s/band’s name backwards, out loud. Then, I’ll spell mine – write my first concert down on your checklist!
Isaiah I once participated in a state-controlled harvest hunt that resulted in a 700+ lb creature. What was the creature?
Kiara I have dual citizenship. The US is one of the countries. What is the other?
June Create a handshake combination that lasts longer than 3 seconds.

 

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Comments 2

  1. I think you have a very different client base than I do – many of the teams I work with include members who would be unhappy to be forced to “chicken dance”. In fact often when I meet with a group to talk about their preferences for a this years team event I will ask them what the highlights and lows were from the year before and being forced to perform something silly in public often is mentioned – to the point where with a bit of private discussion I discover that those people often plan to skip the event – citing a health issue or technical “emergency”. Its really important when doing this kind of activity that before you ask each person for their activity you assess comfort zones and stick within the zone of the least adventurous member.

    An alternative that I find works well is to have each person disclose some fact that they think others will not know about them but that they are comfortable sharing – its a great way for the team to get to know each other better. In one version of this the info was put on name tags and I was surprised to see how many people kept them on through the full event.

    1. Post
      Author

      Sharon – you bring up a great point. Rule #1: Know your Team! 🙂 This activity would require a team who had high trust AND really enjoyed being playful. I also agree, that team building is not all fun and games… it can be (and often should be) very serious work too. Aligning on mission, goals, roles, how to work together etc. Please check out the Better Teams Model – I think you’ll see the more “serious” side of team building there. Also, I think you would like the 9 Dimensions Activity, which is another blog. Thanks also, for sharing an alternative idea – which would work great with a group less inclined to be “silly” together. Best wishes!

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