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What are the big five teamwork activities?

When referring to the core components of teamwork, the “big five” typically denotes these key areas: team leadership, mutual performance monitoring, backup behavior, adaptability, and team orientation. Engaging in activities that specifically target and develop these components can significantly enhance a team’s effectiveness. Here’s a breakdown of the “big five” with activities tailored to strengthen each component:

Team Leadership

Effective team leadership ensures clear communication, proper delegation, and motivation.

Activity: Role Rotation

Description: Over a series of meetings or projects, rotate the leadership role among team members.

Benefit: This exercise allows every member to experience the challenges and responsibilities of leadership, fostering empathy and understanding within the group. It also identifies potential leaders and areas of improvement in leadership styles.

Mutual Performance Monitoring:

Team members observe each other’s work to ensure that tasks are completed correctly.

Activity: Peer Review Sessions

Description: After completing a task, team members exchange their work with peers for review and feedback.

Benefit: This encourages team members to be vigilant and aware of each other’s tasks and progress. It also instills a sense of accountability and offers opportunities for constructive feedback.

Backup Behavior:

Team members step in to support others when they’re either overwhelmed or need assistance.

Activity: “Sinking Ship” Simulation

Description: In a timed activity, each team member is assigned tasks. Midway, one or two members are “removed” (their roles simulated as incapacitated), and the team must reassign and complete the tasks without them.

Benefit: This simulation forces teams to adjust quickly, identifying backup strengths and how to efficiently redistribute tasks under pressure.


The ability of the team to adjust to changes and remain effective.

Activity: “Change Winds” Game

Description: Teams are given a task to plan (like a mock project or event). Periodically, introduce “change winds” – unexpected changes or challenges they must adapt to, such as budget cuts or change in event date.

Benefit: This activity teaches teams to expect the unexpected, remain flexible, and come up with on-the-spot solutions.

Team Orientation:

Team members prioritize the team’s collective performance over individual achievements.

Activity: Collaborative Mural

Description: Provide a large canvas or digital platform. Each member starts on a section, contributing to a part of a bigger picture. Periodically, rotate members to continue where others left off.

Benefit: This emphasizes the importance of each member’s contribution to the collective goal. It also highlights the interconnectedness of individual efforts.

Incorporating activities that target the “big five” components of teamwork can be a game-changer for organizations. By focusing on these core areas, teams can navigate challenges more effectively, ensuring smoother collaboration and superior outcomes.

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