Proponents of icebreakers, which reinforce the content and goal accomplishment of a team-building or training session, use these activities to introduce the content of the training session. At the same time, there is a place for a fun icebreaker whose only purpose is to help session attendees know and appreciate each other.
This meet-and-greet meeting icebreaker works well when you have a group of new employees who are just starting. It is also effective at large, company-wide meetings to help people working inter-departmentally get to know each other better.
Breaking Down Walls
In meetings, employees have a tendency to sit with the people that they know best at work. Consequently, you'll find department members sitting together and people who have the same job sitting together. At a company or department meeting, to help attendees get to know co-workers outside of their immediate workgroup, these icebreakers work well.
A Sweet Icebreaker
In advance of the meeting, purchase candy bars for each attendee. Buy a variety with enough to divide the attendees across the desired number of groups or tables. As an example, if you want five employees in each small group, purchase five Snickers bars, five Baby Ruth candy bars, and so forth. Place all of the candy bars in a bag and ask employees to draw a candy bar as they enter the meeting.
You have also either labeled the tables with the candy bar name or placed an additional candy bar on the table in advance, so employees know where to sit. Instruct attendees that they are to sit with the people who drew the same candy bar as they did. Warn employees not to eat the candy bar on the table or people will not know how to find their group.
Because this is such a fun approach to helping employees get to know each other, you can simply ask people to introduce themselves to their assigned table. If you want to involve the employees in a more elaborate debriefing, you can develop a series of questions for people to answer. The suggested questions below are easy to answer and non-intrusive. Virtually every participant will have an answer to each of the sample questions.
Sample Questions or Discussion Points
These questions are designed to elicit positive responses from your participants. Use them as a starting point, customize them to suit your work setting and participants, and follow these facilitation guidelines to ensure success
- Describe how and when you came to work at this company.
- Share your biggest current challenge at work.
- Share two things about yourself that you think no one at your table knows about you.
- Describe a positive customer interaction you have experienced.
- Tell your coworkers something you appreciate about your company.
- Tell your coworkers what you appreciate about your coworkers.
- Share what you like about your current job.
- Share the funniest or most fun situation you have experienced at work.
- Talk about the best boss you ever had. What set him or her apart?
- Are you a cat person, dog person, bird person, or gerbil person? What is your favorite pet, and why?
- What was your favorite vacation, and what made it stand out?
- If you could pick your birthday dinner, what would you choose to eat?
- Tell your tablemates three things about yourself. Two of them are true, and one of them is a lie. Ask people to guess which is the lie.
- Share one thing you do every day at work and without which you would be unhappy in your current job.
- If you could choose one location for your next travel adventure and money is no object, where would you go and why?
You can diversify your approach to this icebreaker with fruit, cookies, or other items that people enjoy. However, candy bars work best because they are wrapped, and their logos are so visual. Also, die-hard health nuts don't have to partake in the candy eating at the end—you can always have health bars ready for them.