Splitting a Team!

Have you ever had the need to split a team?

Before you get your sinister smile & evil fangs out – let me quickly clarify: Have you ever run a meeting or activity, where you needed to split a larger group of people into smaller units? Many of you would perhaps sigh an exasperated, “Yes”! Without a clear plan, this is one activity that can get frustrating as hell.

At FocusU, we pride ourselves to be amongst the best team building companies in the world. Over the years (and not without our own share of splitting hair), we now have a small repertoire that we often dip into.

There is a very famous poem that is very relevant for all of us as Facilitators. It goes like this:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The essence of the poem is that – sometimes the smallest of things that can seem insignificant to us can derail a big grand plan. Truly, God is in the details.

While we conduct team building programs – especially for large groups, one small minor insignificant activity is – how we go about splitting the team into smaller manageable (for a single Facilitator) sizes. Done right, it will not even be noticed. But do it wrong – and it can cause a lot of confusion, chaos and heartburn for the organizers. Overall, when not done right it can give the impression that we as Facilitators are really not in control.

A few thumb rules that a Facilitator should bear in mind as he heads into the phase where he needs to split a team are:

  1. A clear estimate of how much time it should take.
  2. How to make the communication crystal clear and ensure confusion free movement.
  3. Not to leave any participant wandering clueless
  4. Not to break the FUN momentum, built-up by the preceding activities
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Yes, at Focus, we have some tried and tested methods that work as a short & clear therapy for splitting teams into any sizes. Here are a few variants for you to try:

1) Flip a Coin

  • Splitting Team into 2 Groups

Total Time: 2-8 Min (depending on team size)
Ideal for Team Size : Any Size

Find a partner, you are most comfortable with. Flip a coin.
All Tails: 1 Team, All Heads: 1 Team

2) Playing Cards

(One full card deck has been considered for examples mentioned below. You can use multiple decks depending on team size)

Give them one Playing card each. Make sure to manage your cards according to the total team size.

  • Splitting into 2 teams

Color of the Cards (Max 26 black cards, 26 red cards)

  • Splitting into 4 teams

Hearts:  13 red cards/ Spades:  13 black cards/ Diamonds:  13 red cards/ Clubs:  13 black cards

  • Splitting into Groups of 4

All four 7’s, four Ace’s, etc.)

3) Gum Balls

  • Splitting into two or more teams

Give everybody gumballs of a different color (According to the number for your groups).

If you like : Have them eat them as they are arriving, then divide them by the color of their tongues.

Select colors as per the no. of teams you want

4) Match the Card

 Randomly hand out pre printed cards with images in any combination such as:

Food : Bread/Jam, Fruit/Juice, etc.

Brand Logos : LG Logo/LG, HP Logo/HP, etc.

Or May be Product/Company : TV/Sony, Printer/HP, Fruit Juice/Real, Car/Audi, etc.

Then get them to find someone with a card that ‘goes’ with their card

5) Socksy Pair

 Get a bag of (unquestionably washed) socks – each picks one then finds their pair or same color or may be same size.

6) Kung Fu Masters

“Term ‘Kung Fu’ refers colloquially to any individual accomplishment or skill cultivated through long and hard work. For this activity all participants would be known as Kung Fu Master.”

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Call out “Kung Fu Masters X” and the participants need to quickly huddle in a group of size X.

Repeat several times with different sized groups.

When correct groups are formed, as you want, you can continue your workshop.

These are just six different ways to split a team – am sure there would be more!

Do share your ideas if you have more. Here’s to some fun, efficient splitting!

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