Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms Overview:

  • Objective = To get to know your remote colleagues better, and understand what they can bring to the team
  • Team Size = Any group size will work
  • Time = 5 mins
  • Difficulty = Medium
  • Materials Required = Yes
  • Preparation Required = Yes
  • Technology Required = Shared document and video/phone conferencing

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms

Why this is an important activity for your team

Strong relationships are a critical component of high performing teams. Its basically what separates a collection of individuals from an actual team. In order to build relationships, there needs to be trust amongst the team members. In an office, trust is something that can be built overtime through frequent interactions (meeting in the hallway, having lunch together, talking at the other person’s desk, etc…).

But in a virtual setting, frequent interactions are not always possible. So we have to build trust by having the team open up with one another. We want to build a type of professional closeness that occurs between colleagues who have started to understand each other underneath their surface information. One way to build this closeness is to have each team member create their own Coat of Arms.

Starting in the 12th century in Europe, noblemen would create a Coat of Arms as a representation of themselves. These images would be incredibly personal, and would be painted on shields stitched onto banners and clothes. Basically, a Coat of Arms was the snapshot of what was important to the person at that time, and their chosen designs would alter over time. The Coat of Arms exercise is a great way to build that deeper knowledge of one another, and do so in a fun and creative way.

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms

Preparation – Share the Coat of Arms file (2 days before)

Open up the Coat of Arms file, and make sure you have enough Coat of Arm pages for each of your team members. We recommend that you create your own personal Coat of Arms, so your people get a better idea of what you want them to accomplish. See the bottom of the article for an example of my own Coat of Arms.

A couple days before the meeting, give your team access to the file, and explain to them that the goal of the exercise is for each team member to create a personal Coat of Arms in relation to their role within the team. They should open the file you sent, and start building their Coat of Arms. At your next team meeting they will have to present their Coat of Arms to the rest of the team.

Each section of the Coat of Arms corresponds to a specific question. The team member needs to answer the question by inserting a picture, GIF, or drawing in the corresponding section of their Coat of Arms. While we are recommending some specific questions, feel free to update the Coat of Arms template with your own questions. Our recommended questions are:

  • What do I think are my biggest contributions to the team?
  • Are there any challenges that I am facing at the moment?
  • What do I want to accomplish this year?
  • How do I feel about the rest of the year?

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms

Step 1 – Review the Coat of Arms (5-25 mins)

There are two ways you can run the Coat of Arms exercise: in one meeting or spread across multiple meetings. If you want to run this exercise in one meeting, have each person take a turn to present their Coat of Arms. The other way to run it is to spread the Coat of Arm presentations across multiple meetings. Learning about a new person’s Coat of Arms can be a fun way to start a meeting.

When a person presents his/her Coat of Arms, they should explain why they chose each image, and give their answers to the questions. The rest of the team should use Active Listening questions to try and understand the person even better. This is a great opportunity to find similarities and build stronger connections.

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms

Optional Step – Revisit your Coat of Arms in 6 months

The Coat of Arms activity does not have to be a one time only exercise. We recommend you revisit your team Coat of Arms at least once or twice a year. It is a great opportunity to check in where they are now. What has changed, and why has it changed? How are those changes represented visually?

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms

Example Coat at Arms

To help give you an idea of the types of things you can do with your Coat of Arms, I have made my own. I built this Coat of Arms during my second week of working from home thanks to the Corona virus. Below are the answers I would share with my team:

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms - image test-gif-2 on
My Biggest Contribution to the Team

As my company is switching to all working remotely, my team is going to need to build a lot of tools and training for our people quickly. I believe one of my biggest strengths is that I am a technical and design wizard when it comes to building new learning materials. I can just make stuff very quickly.

My Biggest Challenge at the Moment

But my biggest strength is limited by my biggest challenge. In order to design learning tools and write articles, I need to be able to focus. And focus is of short supply in my household. Literally as I write the section on my biggest challenge, my 4 year old son has forced himself on my lap to watch me write. So finding time and a quiet space to focus on my work is really tough for me right now.

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms - image Photo-on-20-03-2020-at-06.47-2-1024x683 on
What I want to Accomplish this Year

Originally, my biggest goal of the year was to build out my company’s leadership development portfolio. Due to the Corona Virus situation, leadership is even more critical, but some of the topics have been reprioritized (i.e. managing remote teams and handling stressful situations). So, what I want to accomplish this year is to truly help some people managers and teams thrive in this new reality of working remotely.

How I Feel about the Rest of the Year

If I am being honest, the idea of multiple months of being a stay at home parent and a full time learning expert makes me want to bang my head on my desk. I (like many of you) am seeing this as an incredibly daunting period, and I (like many of you) am trying to get better at this new reality one day at a time. I also struggle to think about what life will be like when this all goes back to ‘normal’. As of writing this, the timelines keep extending and extending. So I don’t even know if ‘regular life’ will even return in 2020. I hope so, but I don’t know.

Virtual Team Activities: Coat of Arms

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