At the beginning of a virtual team’s project, team members may not know each other. We recommend the use of an icebreaker exercise to help team members learn about each other. We provide an example exercise that you, as a team leader, could facilitate. This exercise is not only designed to help team members learn about each other, it is also designed to bring out similarities among team members and build interpersonal bonds and team identity. Before conducting this (or any other) icebreaker exercise, you should introduce its purpose to the team. Icebreakers and group activities in general go over much better when they are presented in this way.
Example Icebreaker Exercise
Ask members to respond to the following questions about themselves. Make them share their responses with the rest of the group. You as a leader should respond and share as well.
- What is an example of a life goal you aspire to accomplish in your career?
- What are the characteristics of that life goal that inspire you?
- In what way are such life goals fulfilling for you?
- What have you learned from aspiring to this goal that you could share with others and help them develop?
Subsequent to this ask the team to share their reactions to what they saw in others’ responses and find similarities with others. Ask them to be positive. Facilitate the discussion to foster team-building based on empathy and personal connection.