Reflective Teamwork Activities

Most interactive experiential activities use a process to explore some content. In a reflective teamwork activity (RTA), the process and the content merge with each other. For example, participants may discuss different stages in the development of a team and then reflect how, in the process of their discussion, they went through the stages they discussed.

An Example of a Reflective Teamwork Activity

Let’s pretend that you have been assigned to a newly-formed customer-relations team and Mark, the facilitator, conducts a game. He invites you and the other participants to write down four characteristics of effective teams, each on a separate index card. Mark collects all the cards, adds some cards with statements that he had written earlier, shuffles the cards thoroughly, and gives each participant three cards. During the next round, you form teams with three other participants. All four members of your team combine your cards and jointly select the three cards with statements that everyone agrees with. As a team, you prepare a poster using only pictures (no text) to convey the essence of the three selected statements about effective teams.

After the activity is completed, Mark facilitates a reflective debriefing: He invites all team members to compare their teamwork during the collaborative selection of the three cards and the creation of the poster with the characteristics of effective teams depicted in the posters. The ensuing discussion results in sharing of insights related to incorporating your thoughts into action.

Advantages and Uses

In a reflective teamwork activity, participants work as a team on an actual task rather than playing a role or working on a simulated task. Only after completing the task, team members reflect on their behaviors and explore principles and procedures related to relevant aspects of teamwork.

Reflective teamwork activities are especially useful with intact teams whose members have been working (or to plan to work) with each other on an actual project. In this context, the RTA brings members of the team closer together and provides them with a common language to discuss their past experiences and future plans.

More Examples

Maximum Participation

This reflective teamwork activity focuses on increasing and improving the participation of all members in a team project. Organize the participants into an even number of teams. Pair up the teams so that the two teams can take turns observing one another. Let us assume that one such pair consists of the Red Team and the Blue Team.

During the first round, ask members of the Red Team to draw on the flip chart a colorful picture that depicts the organization's vision. Announce a 5-minute time limit. Ask members of the Blue Team to observe the Red Team's performance, taking special note of behaviors and interactions that encourage or discourage team members’ participation.

During the second round, ask members of the Blue Team to analyze their earlier observation and prepare a checklist of Dos and Don'ts for encourage maximum participation of all team members. While this is happening, ask the Red Team to observe the Blue Team's activity, making note of behaviors that elicit or inhibit enthusiastic participation.

During the third round, pair up members of the Red and Blue teams. Invite each pair to discuss their experiences and observations on the two projects (drawing a picture and preparing a participation checklist). Instruct each pair to come up with three recommendations for improving the frequency and quality of team member's participation.


This reflective teamwork activity explores the challenges associated with losing or gaining team members in the midst of a long-term project. You can conduct Switch in about 30 to 60 minutes with 10 to 40 participants who are organized into teams of 4 to 7 members. Begin by asking all teams to conduct a brainstorming discussion for 10 minutes. Assign this "losing" topic to one half of the teams: How can we handle losing some members of our team in the midst of a long-term project? To the other half of the teams, assign this "gaining" topic: How can we handle the addition of new members to our team in the midst of a long-term project? After about 5 minutes of the brainstorming activity, randomly select one or two people from the teams working on the "losing" topic and send them to join the teams working on the "gaining" topic. Ask the reorganized teams to continue their brainstorming activity for four more minutes. At the end of this time, blow a whistle and announce the end of the activity. Conduct a debriefing session by inviting participants to reflect on their previous experience. Use these questions to identify suitable strategies for working efficiently when the team is disrupted by the removal or addition of members:

  • What problems are associated with losing team members? What problems are associated with gaining team members?

  • What strategies could we use to reduce the disruption when some team members are removed? What strategies could we use to reduce the disruption when some new members are added to the team?

  • What actually happened when your team lost one or more of its members in the midst of the brainstorming activity? What actually happened when your team gained one or more new members?

  • How did you feel when you were removed from your team in the midst of the brainstorming activity? How did you feel when you were added to another team in the midst of their activity?


This RTA involves the development of two ceremonies for celebrating the completion of a team project--and uses one of them to celebrate the completion of the RTA. You can conduct Celebrate in 30-60 minutes with any number of participants, divided into teams of 4-7 members.

Each team plays this game independently. To start the game, tell the team members that they comprise a special task force established to develop two generic ceremonies to celebrate the completion of a project. The first ceremony is to be a grand one (for the completion of a major project) and it may involve a $500 budget, a week of preparation, and several hours of celebration. The second ceremony is to be a modest one (for the completion of a small task) with no special budget or preparation time and involving no more than 10 minutes of celebration. Announce a 20-minute time limit for the activity. Suggest that each team member takes turns to describe her or his ideas and all members select the best ideas and combine them into the two ceremonies. After 15 minutes, announce the time and suggest that the team use the remaining time to get a closure on the second ceremony. At the end of the assigned time, congratulate the team and ask it to implement the plan for the brief ceremony to celebrate the successful completion to the activity. After the team finishes their celebration, conduct a reflective debriefing session, discussing how practicable their plans for the brief ceremony were.

Team Profile

This RTA is a special type of icebreaker which helps team members to collect and share important information about themselves. You can conduct Team Profile in 30-60 minutes with at least six participants. Begin the activity by dividing the team into three sub-teams of two or more people. Tell that each sub-team will be collecting, analyzing, and reporting information about the characteristics and preferences of team members. Assign the following three topics to the three sub-teams: members' experiences, expertise, and expectations. Ask the three sub-teams to spend 5 minutes planning the questions and procedures they would use to collect information. Then ask sub-teams to spend the next 10 minutes interviewing members of the other sub-teams to collect appropriate data. After this, ask sub-teams to analyze and organize the information. Finally, ask each subteam to make a 2-minute presentation summarizing their major findings. Follow with a reflective debriefing to discuss if the team members' behaviors were aligned with their expectations and whether the team fully utilized each member's experiences and expertise.