When to use this exercise
Behind your back is a team-building exercise. The exercise is best suited for teams and groups that already know each other a little bit or have worked together for some time.
There are two ways to conduct this team-building exercise. You can either give verbal positive feedback or by writing it on a sticky note on their back.
Behind your back helps people acknowledge one another in a positive way and support the team to become more cohesive. Although it sounds embarrassing, it ends up being lots of fun and very valuable.
- Divide into groups of 3 or 4, depending on total group size
- One person in each group turns around so that his/her back is to the other group members. For a set amount of time (e.g. one minute), the other members take turns saying positive things about that person, such as their character strengths, what they appreciate about the person, how they uniquely contribute to the workplace environment, etc. The group needs to be standing close enough so that the person can overhear what the group is saying.
- When the facilitator indicates that time is up, this process is repeated for the next member of the group, and so on, until each member gets a chance to hear their colleagues talking (positively) about them behind their back!
Note: Alternative exercise - writing behind your back
As an alternative to "Talking behind your back," you can use "Writing behind your back" without having to divide the group into smaller units. At the start of the exercise, each team member is given a blank sheet of paper to tape to his/her back and a coloured marker. Instruct the team members to move around the room writing positive comments on one another's backs. Watch out for pens that soak through the paper onto clothing. Remarks should include what team members most enjoy, value or admire about that person. Participants should collect comments from everyone in the room. At the end of the exercise, each person gets to read and keep his/her own collection of acknowledgements.