The Slice

50 Team Building Questions for Work Trust and Camaraderie

March 21, 2022

Team building questions allow you to build a rapport, facilitate everyone getting to know everyone else, and enhance trust. As humans, we're conditioned to care about our families first, our tribes second, and strangers a distant third. Building a work team means building that tribal identity, and you can't do that when people keep one another at arm's length. Where do you start? What questions should you ask? Here are our favorites.

Your team at work is most effective when each member understands each other, and everyone can work in concert. We all have our differences, and it is those differences in perspective, thought patterns, and behaviors that allow us to thrive as a team. After all, if we didn't have those differences, we might as well just automate tasks instead of delegating them, right?

How can you take a crew of disparate individuals and get everyone to know everyone else? How can you build a rapport, acknowledge and overcome differences, learn and grow as a group, and synergize lived experiences? 

It all starts with getting to know one another, and the easiest way to do that is through a framework of team building question and answer sessions. 

Team building questions allow you to build a rapport, facilitate everyone getting to know everyone else, and enhance trust. As humans, we're conditioned to care about our families first, our tribes second, and strangers a distant third. Building a work team means building that tribal identity, and you can't do that when people keep one another at arm's length.

It all starts with a question-and-answer framework. Establish a habit of a quick Q&A session before each meeting or as a capstone to a workweek (perhaps over pizza?) and encourage everyone to chat and get to know each other. 

Where do you start? What questions should you ask? Here are our favorites.

Questions About Inspiration

To start things off, we'll begin with questions that start to get a little deep and dig into the motivations and meaning behind behavior. What inspired you to become who you are today? These questions can help you get to know the rest of your team and the influences that pushed them to become who they are. They can also give everyone else an avenue towards personal growth; after all, no one shares the same idols, but you can learn about each other's inspirations.

1. Who or What inspired you to follow your current career path? Did more than one team member end up with the same source of inspiration?

2. What music inspires you the most when you work? This can be as specific as a given song, or as broad as an entire genre.

3. If someone looked to you for inspiration for your career, what advice would you give them? People find inspiration in the strangest places; you never know when someone might look up to you. It's good to be prepared.

4. Have you ever traveled to a place that inspired you? Where, and how did it inspire?

5. Who did you look up to as a kid? Be careful with this one, though, as a lot of childhood favorites have turned into problematic faves over the years.

6. If you had a million dollars to start a business, what would it be? Yes, we know, a million dollars isn't all that much in modern business, but the idea is more important than the budget.

7. Do you have a piece of advice from your grandparents you would want to pass on? Feel free to replace grandparents with any childhood authority figure since not everyone is close to their grandparents or received good advice from them.

8. What's the worst piece of advice you've ever been given? How would things have gone if you had followed it?

9. What's a big risk you took, and how did it pay off? This can be related to their career, their personal lives, or some event in their lives. There's a huge array of answers here.

10. What's the best piece of advice you've ever received? Alternatively, what would be the best piece of advice you would give to someone today?

Personal Questions

This section is packed with personal questions, most of which are light-hearted. In a sense, you can consider these to be basic small talk, allowing your team to find common ground with popular culture and identify "neutral" topics of discussion. And really, who doesn't want to show off their pets, talk about their favorite media, or fantasize about an ideal vacation?

11. Do you have a pet? Can we see them? Everybody loves to show off their pets, and a "meeting with the household manager" can be a fun repeating experience for many.

12. Have you read any good books recently?

13. What's your secret talent or hobby? You can even consider pushing this one towards a show-and-tell or a talent show style event, if there are the right kind of talents amongst the team.

14. What's the craziest thing you ever did? Try to make sure everyone only shares legal adventures, though. Don't let anyone admit to a crime or anything serious!

15. What's the best meal you ever had? This question isn't entirely about the food; it's about the memories around it that make it special.

16. What's your strangest family tradition? Or, what's a random tradition in your family? After all, some people might not know their traditions are weird until other people end up confused when they talk about them.

17. What do you remember most fondly about your childhood? Childhood memories and nostalgia can be powerful motivators, and even just thinking about them can be great. Just make sure they're appropriate to share with the group. Also, come up with a definition of childhood; a memory from under 10 is very different from a memory of being 15.

18. What do you like to do in your leisure time? There are a lot of different variations to this question you can ask, ranging from casual break downtime to the opportunities of a month-long vacation.

19. What's your favorite genre/artist of music? You never know what kind of exotic music might come up in discussion. If you have time, you might even have everyone pick a song or two to share with the group. Who knows; maybe someone will find a new favorite?

20. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and why? You can also use this as a this-or-that question by presenting a pair of powers to choose from. Alternatively, ask which superhero your team members would most want to be or partner with.

21. What's one thing you wish everyone knew about you? This can be a surprisingly tough one to answer, and can get into some deep territory, so be cautious with the discussion about it.

22. What's a local tradition from where you grew up that outsiders might not understand?

23. What's the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Some people might treat this as a lateral thinking question and answer something like "open my eyes," while others might discuss morning habits like drinking a glass of water or doing some stretches.

24. What's the most interesting thing you have in your wallet or purse? This can be anything from a cool rock to a sentimental item they carry with them everywhere. And, of course, the lack of anything interesting can be interesting itself.

25. If you had to give up one favorite food forever, what would it be?

This or That Questions

The name of the game here is light-hearted debate. There are thousands of different, roughly equivalent choices you can offer, and ask everyone to pick. You can also contextualize these in different ways. For example, many of these questions have alternatives. Maybe your coworker isn't a cat person OR a dog person, but they have a handful of snakes they'd love to show off. As the discussion leader, you have to decide if you want to allow thinking and answering outside the box, or if the entire point is to discuss the merits of one of the two options over the other.

The key here is to make sure the debates you choose are trivialities. You don't want to embroil your team in a debate over a serious topic like political alignments; that's just grounds for irreconcilable differences, bad feelings, and people quitting.

26. Dogs or Cats?

27. Morning or Evening?

28. Cake or Pie?

29. Coffee or Tea?

30. Summer or Winter?

31. Avengers or Justice League?

32. Skim milk or whole milk?

33. Road trip or flight?

34. Vacation or staycation?

35. Urban or rural?

Helpful Discussion Questions

Your team building questions don't have to be limited to trivialities. These questions are more serious and offer ways for your team to help out one another. Maybe one team member tried out an ergonomic keyboard and loved it. Maybe one can talk about how they learned to recognize stress in a way that helps other team members recognize and avoid burnout in themselves. Your questions can serve a broader purpose than just socialization.

36. How do you recognize when you're getting stressed and need a break? Recognizing stress – or not recognizing it – can be a big part of workplace success. Moreover, sharing the signs of stress with the team can help the team point out when it's happening before they realize it.

37. What's your best tip for work-from-home productivity? Is it time blocking? Sound-canceling headphones? Not having the boss looming over their shoulder all the time? You'd be surprised at the answers you get here.

38. What remote work accessory/app/product changed your life? For sufficiently compelling items, you might even be able to invest in buying them for the team (and reimbursing the people who already own them, so they don't feel left out.)

39. If you could invest in one thing to improve your job, what would it be? This kind of feedback can be useful for you as a manager as well as your team members.

40. What's the coolest part of what you're working on right now?

41. How do you prefer to receive feedback? Some people prefer direct feedback, while others want indirect hints. Some feel very stressed with negative feedback, while others prefer an up-front "you're doing it wrong" so they can correct whatever needs correcting. Learning how to give your team feedback can help to reduce stress in the team quite a bit.

42. What do you do to de-stress from the pressures of life? Stress relief tips can be shared amongst the team and can go a long way towards helping everyone live a better life free of burnout.

43. What habit has most changed your life for the better? Maybe it's giving up caffeine, maybe it's going for a morning walk, or maybe it's regimented time management. You have a ton of options here to discuss.

44. How do you apologize when you know you're in the wrong?

45. What's one part of your job you wish you had more feedback on?

Open-Ended Questions

These are the kinds of questions you spend an afternoon discussing. They tend to be so free-form and the answers so varied that you can get a lot of mileage out of talking about them. Just make sure to have a backup or two if no one chooses to engage with the question you ask first.

46. If you could visit any time throughout history, when would it be?

47. If you could be successful at any career, what would you choose?

48. What fictional universe would you like to visit?

49. What's your favorite scent?

50. What do you like on your pizza? Okay, so this one is best asked a little beforehand, so you can get that pizza delivered to the team on time for the meeting.

There you have it; 50 questions you can ask to start off a meeting, round out a day's work, or just build a closer bond with your team. There's plenty there to choose from, and you're always free to take an idea and spin it off into others if you prefer. There's no shortage of inspirational question lists available online. So, before we let you go, we have one for you: what's your favorite team building question?

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