Does Team Building work?

We passionately believe in the powers of a customised, considered team building activity to re-energise a corporate team. That however, does not mean we have not heard our fair share of horror stories. A review by Critix in 2012 showed that 31% of workers secretly dislike team-building activities. Yet study after study proves that workers feel they benefit from team building activities. So where is the disparity?

Part of the problem surrounding team building activities is that they have to balance the attitudes of employees and the suitability of the activity. The overriding factor, however, is that they are often a once-a-year activity. However, they should be performed much more frequently. Most of Australia’s blue chip companies regularly participate in team building activities. Thus providing a good indication that they work.

How well will they work for your company? It is a matter of careful consideration and planning. Here are some tips to help.

Corporate Team Building Troubleshooting

In order to ensure your team building activity does not breed contempt amongst your employees, you must first troubleshoot some of the issues that may occur.

  • If your team is having troubles, don’t launch headlong into a ‘lost in the wilderness’ style 3 day team building event. For example, warm up to longer activities with shorter ‘in office’ ones
  • Don’t use a team building activity to solve a clash between two employees.   According to Lindsey Olson, spreading this conflict across the whole team is condescending to everyone involved. Therefore peer-to-peer conflicts should be handled directly
  • If the office already has an air of hostility, don’t plan competitive activities
  • Give everyone in your team a say in what they would like to do. For example, make a shortlist of what you think is best for your office, then you can put it to a vote. Feeling like an active participant in the choosing of the activity will ensure greater involvement in the activity itself.

How to choose the right team building activity

Choosing the right activity is dependent on what outcome you want to see for your team. This includes the back-to-work benefits you see your team garnering from the experience. Further, one single activity will not be sufficient in igniting your team. Also, don’t choose a one-size-fits-all solution or something that simply feels like it should be a team building activity. For example, thoughtfully consider what it is that would make your team more amicable and efficient. There are hundreds of different team building activities for your team to participate in. Browse through the options and make a list of ones that seem right for your objective. You should then talk to a teambuilding advisor to go over your objectives and choices with you.

Following Up Regularly

The obligatory once-a-year team building activity may work for a while, but if left unreferenced and unrepeated, the effects will eventually fade. This can further leave your employees feeling that bittersweet post-high-school-camp feeling. Of course you can exacerbate the effects of your team building activity by bringing them back to the workplace. This is most effective when performed top-down. Here’s a great article written by Martin Zwilling for Forbes, on building better connections with your team. Planning regular team building events of all different types can really help your team work through it’s issues. Furthermore it will go beyond that so they actually becoming friends as well as colleagues. Teams that are cooperative and determined are far more effective than teams with deep-seated competition.

You already have the perfect corporate team

If your team is already fantastic, then congratulations! You are clearly doing some amazing work as a leader. This however, does not mean that team building does not apply to your company. Further, it is good to think of team building activities as practice for new situations in the workplace. They are akin to improvisation classes for actors. The modern workplace is full of both pleasant and disrupting changes. Therefore, you need to encourage your team to see the opportunity in every situation and be able to navigate it with effective communication and delegation.

So, do team building activities actually work?

As you can see the success of a team building activity is dependent on a multitude of factors and requires a lot of thought and preparation. That is,  there’s no guarantee that your chosen activity will work. Thus, sometimes it’s a matter of a bit of trial and error. I can however guarantee that if you follow the advice, do your research and some forward planning the chances of success increase dramatically. Team building activities can be extremely effective when used in the right situation for the right reasons. Just remember you want to give your team a memorable experience. Further, if they walk away feeling energised, valued and motivated without even realising that the desired outcome has been achieved then the activity has served its purpose.

If you’re ever having trouble trying to find the right team building activity the expert team at TBME are just a phone call away, contact us and we will find the perfect solution for your unique team.