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Ice Breakers

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Help people "break the ice."

Whenever a group of strangers get together to do something important, the first few moments can be rather awkward. People don't know what's expected of them, and they often feel self-conscious and unwilling to join in.

This is where ice breakers are useful. These can help people get to know one another better and buy into the purpose of their collaboration, so they're more productive.

The type of ice breaker you use depends on who's taking part. They may be like-minded people from various departments within your organization, or they may be at different stages in their careers, with contrasting backgrounds and experience. As you design your ice breaker, focus on the similarities shared by the participants – not their differences.

The ice breaker warms people up for the work they've gathered together to do, and it has its own objectives. These might be to establish a productive working environment, or they might be to break down boundaries of seniority or status to create a level playing field, so that everyone contributes to the event.

Make a list of your objectives and ask yourself how you'll achieve each one. For example, how will you create a common sense of purpose? When you've done this, you'll be in a good position to choose the right ice breaker for your group.

There are several types of activity you can use. A popular one is the "little known fact" ice breaker. Ask participants to introduce themselves with the usual information – their names and their roles – but to also include one little-known fact about themselves. This becomes a humanizing element, which can help break down differences in grade and status.

If your main objective is to build a team dynamic for the session ahead, consider using an activity than involves props, such as the "ball challenge web" ice breaker. This requires everyone to wear name badges if they don't already know each other. You then arrange the group in a circle and ask each person to say his or her name. They must then announce the name of the person who they are going to throw the ball to. When everyone has thrown it at least once, challenge them to pass the ball around all group members as quickly as possible. Time how long it takes, then ask them to beat their previous time. As the challenge progresses, people will get know each other and they'll learn how to work effectively as a team.

There are many more examples of ice breakers that you can use to get the most from your team events. To find out more about these, see the article that accompanies this video.

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Comments (8)
  • Over a month ago bigk wrote
    Hi bigboss

    What is your motivation to do programming?

    Is this because you have good math and you could use this skill with programming?
    There other ways to use math like accountancy or audit and engineering.

    However if you mean the math element is a strength and you want to quickly add extra items to your skill set then math and programming do fit together.

    Programing does need team interaction skills but if you want to fit in the team and have a manager or leader to develop your team skills or improve your own personal or team skills this will need you to use your strengths to develop these skills while doing something that interests you.

    You can develop not only your math skills but use these strengths to develop your other skills although you see these at present as a skill to be developed and not a skill that is immediately available or useable by you in a team setting.
    If this is not one of your motivations or is useable in the work setting, you might want to find a way to become confident and position your skills to improve what you feel about team work.

    A team lead might want to use your math or programming skills but will still want to find ways to use your team interaction skills and use of your valuable team member skills but will want to understand what or why you feel you feel you have no team or self interaction skills to use with the other team members.

    A team needs it's members to interact together, software development is no different although the specialist skills required to develop software might need social and interaction skills rather than just technical skills, to be useful to each other you will need to become more confident about positioning your team member skills to be able to interact with other team members.

    Remember you need to find ways to develop these skills although your main efforts might be towards developing the programming skills to do the job.

    Is there a particular issue you feel you need more development with interacting or is this a question about confidence or the positioning of your technical or social skills?
    If this is the people or team skills you want to develop further while being able to focus mostly on the technical skills needed to develop software, you will need to consider how you position these skills to the work area?

    Happy to offer more help if I can do so...

    Bigk
  • Over a month ago bigboss wrote
    Hi,

    I have done my own SWOT analysis.

    One of my strengths is math, and my weakness is social interaction and copywriting.

    So I think could software building or programming be the "right brand" and "righ career" for me?

    I have (of course) used computer, but I have no experience or education in software building or programming. (And of course this is the reason why I ask this question).
  • Over a month ago Helena wrote
    Hi Zaheer

    You've obviously got a good grasp already of how the results of a SWOT analysis can provide their own solution - as you say:

    How do we use the strengths with the opportunities, strengths to beat the threats etc..?

    A good way to start figuring this out is to use TOWS analysis which will show you how to figure this out. Our article on TOWS analysis is here: http://mindtools.com/community/pages/ar ... STR_89.php

    Best wishes

    Helena
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