Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent by organizations on team building. While some companies claim to have seen a transformation, others report little or no change and poor results. Many employees are cynical when their trusted leader announces that it’s time to bond and build trust.
What is team building exactly?
Team building can be used to refer to many activities. It can encompass everything from long-term structured team development to beating the boss with paintballs or even a lengthy lunch at the pub. It’s no surprise that results can vary.
However, effective team building requires a planned and deliberate intervention that enhances the performance of the team by strengthening its relationships. Leaders can avoid these pitfalls and address each point below to improve the success of their team-building initiatives.
1. Define your team’s performance needs
An in-depth gap analysis is essential to design and select the best team-building strategy. It’s crucial to identify the current and future needs of your team. Prioritize the skills, systems, and issues that need improvement. Participate in the assessment with your team to increase awareness and ownership.
Consider hiring an independent consultant if you don’t have enough resources or you are dealing with a difficult team.
2. Determine the purpose
To determine the goals of your team building, use the results from your needs assessment. What will the team building be focused on?
Developing and strengthening the team’s culture, climate, and dynamics.
Establishing or improving team structures, processes, and systems.
Do you use team building to recognize your team’s accomplishments?
These areas are interconnected, and often one factor can positively influence another, but it is foolish and unrealistic to include too many in one program. Before moving on to the next, focus on the most important, practice them well and share the best practices with your team.
3. You can tell the difference between Performance Improvement and Recognition
Team building events that reward team members are fun and rewarding. Social interaction is essential for building relationships. Make sure you allow time for team building. But, social interaction and team “trust falling” won’t produce lasting improvements in areas where there are issues with team leadership, design, or dynamics. We may have worked well as a team suspended at 50 feet in the air once, but that doesn’t mean we will be able to do it again Monday when calls spike, systems crash, and phones jam. Teams are often left with little understanding, agreement, or the skills necessary to improve their system in the same environment.
4. To improve performance, increase insight
When working with a consultant, make sure they create programs that include action learning to generate individual and collective insight. You don’t need to be able to climb a mountain or paddle a kayak. Effective debriefing is key to gaining meaningful understanding, even if the activities aren’t as adventurous or expensive. Deep team learning is possible only through debriefing. Make sure your team has enough time for this.
5. Follow up and follow-through
When the team fails to deliver on their promises, even well-planned team building events, cynicism can result. If expectations are not met, little is done to change the situation. This can lead to cynicism, resistance, and a drop in morale and performance. It’s back to business as usual after the team-building buzz fades.
This will prevent you from making mistakes. This record, and more importantly, the action plan of the team, are tools that the team will need to implement great ideas, new skills, and agreements. They are more potent than stories and anecdotes about team building. They keep the team focused so that the buzz lasts longer.
6. Team building is not a silver bullet
Realize that team-building events only make up a small portion of overall team development. You should spend as much time planning and analyzing upfront as possible. If team building is not well-planned, planned, and executed, it can cause a severe financial loss.