Teamwork Through Improv

Office Teamwork: In Improv We Trust

Teamwork Through ImprovHow do you build something you can’t even see?

That is the tough question leaders need to answer when they feel a lack of trust forming between coworkers. Trust, like many other intangible elements of team success, may be hard to describe, but is unquestionably integral to group achievements. Without trust’s supportive backbone, teams can easily become splintered as opportunities for open collaboration dwindle.

Don’t let your team suffer from a lack of trust! Though deep trust takes time to develop, there are tons of ways to begin fostering confidence between coworkers, and some of the most effective (and fun) ones come from the creative world of improvisation.

Here are a few improv techniques stripped from the stage and applied to the office for you to try with your team in order to start building more trust:

Trust Fall/Float

You’re may already be familiar with this classic exercise! To complete a trust fall, have your group gather around one team member who is standing slightly higher than the rest. Then, once everyone is safely set in their spots, have the raised participate cross their arms, close their eyes and fall back into the team’s waiting arms. The message is clear – “We will be there to pick you up when you fall!” Safety is key here, so keep the fall relatively low (it’ll still have a big impact) and make sure to require a vocal “ready” from the group before the fall.

One fun variation on this technique is the trust float! Instead of simply catching one falling teammate, try working as a group to lift a blindfolded teammate off the ground and float them to predetermined destinations around the room. Not only will the flier need to trust the team, but extra collaboration goes into making the flight a success.

Obstacle Course

This exercise is easy to put together and requires high levels of trust and clear communication to pull off. After blind folding and separating one teammate, have the rest of your group build an obstacle course using anything available; chairs, desks and even coworkers themselves are great examples of affordable obstacles. Once completed, bring back the sequestered teammate to traverse the course using only their teammate’s directions to guide them. For example, when the blind folded participant nearly walks into a strategically placed chair, a teammate watching would yell, “Move left two steps, then step forward three more steps.”

The blind folded participant will need to learn to let go of their senses and trust their peers to navigate them to safety, while those with sight will need to work together to create a clear solution.

Puppets

Finally, here’s a chance to let loose and trust in our teammates’ ability to control a situation. In this exercise, teammates work in pairs, with one standing behind the other, to complete simple tasks. The front person closes their eyes and relaxes so that the player behind can move their bodies freely, like a puppet! For example, two pairs could simulate a typical customer visiting your company and interacting with an employee.

Very early into this exercise, participants should realize that the more relaxed and trusting they become, the easier it will be to complete the actions needed. The movements of the puppet pairs become much more fluid and natural after trust is established!

These are just a few exercises from the world of improvisational theater that can give your team a trust boost. Even though you can’t see it, trust an invaluable asset to your organization that has been developed by coworkers over the course of countless interactions, from the worst failures to your most shining success stories.

When your coworker falls, will you be there to catch them?

Do you have any ideas for cultivating trust in the workplace? Share your tips

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