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Keys to Team Success

How to Create Winning Team Building Activities


Businesswoman presenting in front of a group
Shannon Fagan/ Stone/ Getty Images

Want to make your next team building activity live up to its true potential? Integrate the team building with real-time work goals. Establish a systematic workplace integration and follow-up process - before you go on the team building adventure. You need to make the good feelings and the outcomes from the team building activity last beyond the final team building exercise.

Impact of Team Building Events

Without this attention to integration, corporate team building or planning events are, at best, a short term boost to employee enthusiasm and positive morale. If they are planned and executed well, people feel good about themselves and about each other. Employees get to know each other better and have a common experience to talk about back at work.

A frequent expectation from team building activities is that they build trust. Team building events have little to do with building trust, however, unless company planning, that is carefully followed up on and yields real results, is part of the team building event or retreat.

Team Building Downsides and Risks

At worst, team building sessions help employees become cynical about their organizations. This occurs when the team building events are held outside of the context of the company’s normal way of doing business. If you send people offsite to an event, for example, but all rewards in your company are based on individual goals and efforts, the team building event will have no lasting impact.

People will lose productive hours complaining about the time and energy invested in the team building or planning activities. Unhappiness, management criticism and employees complaining to each other sap energy, productivity and joy from the work day.

An event that is not followed up with meaningful activities in the workplace should not be held. They harm trust, motivation, employee morale and productivity. They don’t solve the problems for which they were scheduled and held. You will eventually lose the people you most want to keep – especially if they don’t see your organization getting better as a result of off-site team building and planning sessions.

If the team building has no follow up, people become jaded about such events as a waste of time and energy. In fact, I don’t lead these events that are just for team building without a business purpose, in addition to, or to build the event around. With recent organizational downsizing and cost cutting, people feel as if they are already doing more than one job. In this context, team building for team building’s sake has lost popularity.

Team Building Success Factors

The success of a team building or of a strategic planning activity begins well before the start of the sessions. Use a team to plan the event since you want to model the behavior you seek from the team building sessions you schedule.

The likely long-term effectiveness of a team building event or corporate retreat is enhanced when you incorporate annual team building events into an overall company structure. This cultural framework of philosophies, values and practices is designed to build the concept of “team” on a regular basis. In this environment, team building sessions can yield supportive results.

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