I have a lot of requests from clients for “team building”. It’s become clear to me that everyone means something slightly different when they say “team building”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps we could all benefit from some shared understanding when we’re using the term.
In my experience “team building” falls into one of two categories:
“Bonding the Team” where a group of people are given a shared experience that will bring them closer as a team. This could be a nice dinner, a cocktail party, or some lightly-competitive activity. When Bonding the Team, the more unique the experience, the greater the bonding effect.
“Building the Team” where a group of people build the skills they need to be successful at work. This can still be a unique experience, but there is a transfer of the skills inherent in the experience to the individual’s work life. There is discussion of how these skills can be used when they get back to the office.
So how do you know which “team building” you really need? Here are a couple of questions to help you make your decision:
- Are you planning an event for more than 100 people? You probably want to BOND the Team. With that large a group, the time for discussion and contact between individuals is limited. There’s not time for skills to be built, so focus your attention on the uniqueness of the experience. Some sort of event with a charitable focus might be a good fit, and you’ll do good for the community.
- Does this group work really need to collaborate in order to get a job done or do they all have parts of a job that can be completed independently? This can be tricky. Most people could use a brush-up on their communication skills (especially the listening part of communication), but if this group doesn’t need to collaborate, focus on something to build morale. Go for BONDING the Team, maybe an appreciation dinner.
- Are you combining two separate teams or has there been considerable turnover on the team? This is an amazing opportunity to start off on the right foot. Set some base level skills for how this new group is going to work together. BUILD the Team and they won’t let you down. An escape room or scavenger hunt with a debrief following may do the trick.
- Is communication breaking down on your team with members not sharing information or is the team just not operating at full capacity? They need a space to talk about how they talk, this team needs to be BUILT. CSz Business can combine the fun of an improv workshop with facilitated discussion to address your specific goals.
A final note on “team building”. Throughout the life of a team, both of these types of team building will be necessary. But no team building effort will be effective if the culture of the organization doesn’t support good teamwork. If you’re having problems with your team, a good first step is to take stock of your reward system, your management style, and even your physical space. Is your company structured to support good teamwork? Employees want to be part of a high-functioning team. If you give them the space to do it and the skills to succeed, your company will be rewarded.
Greg Werstler is the Creative Sales Director, CFO for CSz Business Chicago. Greg has been a proud member of the event industry for 20 years, providing interactive entertainment and innovative training solutions. In addition to being an emcee and facilitator, Greg is currently enrolled in the MS Management and Organizational Behavior program at Benedictine University. In life and in business, Greg builds ensembles.