Team building is an excellent tool to improve trust and collaboration and nurture strengths in the workplace. Getting a team of people together for fun, organized activities can also enhance communication skills.
However, it’s vital to remember that team building alone can’t fix serious issues in your organization. Instead, team leaders and business owners should realize that team building is one tool among many to prevent or resolve common problems in the workplace.
Sometimes managers use team building as a “one trick pony” when they discover underlying problems with morale, communication, cooperation, and leadership. And all too often, they come up with this solution: “I know, we need to organize a team building event.” Unfortunately, the result is that after the event, nothing seems to have changed.
In this article, you’ll learn seven situations when more than just team building activities are necessary to resolve issues. But first, we’ll discuss what team building can do for your organization’s success.
The Role of Team Building in a Successful Organization
Organizations use regular team building events to reach their goals. Team building helps organizations develop a strong corporate culture and provide tangible benefits to their employees. Team bonding exercises teach employees trust, how to get along well, and collaborate to achieve common goals.
The most important thing to consider when planning a team building event is this — what type of activities will help build the best environment for your employees? Here are a few kinds of team building activities and how they can benefit your organization.
- A scavenger hunt: Getting employees to work in teams to uncover new things increases collaboration, improves problem-solving skills and strengthens bonds.
- Escape room: Team members can learn how to make decisions that benefit everyone. Additionally, you can use escape room activities to rehearse responses in challenging situations.
- Cooking competition: Organizing team building cooking events helps members strive for excellence while developing their communication skills at the same time.
- Volunteer in the community: Organizing volunteer events is a great way to give back. A 2022 report by PWC found that 65 percent of employees want to work for an organization with a strong social and environmental conscience. Organizing charitable team events is an excellent way to achieve this.
- Blindfold leading: Blindfolding team members and getting others to lead them is a fun activity and builds trust at the same time. It also helps everyone pay attention to detail and directions.
There are several things to remember when organizing successful team building events for your organization. These include:
- Encourage collaboration, not competition
- Learn from previous experiences
- Establish clear expectations
- Get feedback
- Use an expert team building company to organize your activities
So, team bonding activities are fun, exciting, and excellent for improving morale. However, they are only part of the solution. Solving deeper-rooted issues, like communication failures, weak leadership, or under-achievement, requires more time and insight into the underlying issues.
Therefore, a combination of training, consulting, and teamwork can help organization members understand the issues your company is facing.
Seven Issues Team Building Alone Cannot Resolve
Although effective team building activities are an excellent tool to strengthen many organizational processes, they must be used with other resources to resolve severe problems.
1. Fix long-standing problems
It’s a mistake to think that one or two team building events will resolve long-standing or systematic problems. Usually, issues like a lack of clear direction, slow processes, and a lack of awareness develop over time. Or businesses leaders may lack the vital skills to keep an organization moving.
So, the question is this: if someone cannot give clear direction, how will they use team activities to resolve this? After all, taking a team approach to solving problems requires giving clear direction. Only after addressing the underlying issues will team building activities help bond a team and get it working effectively.
Here are a few tips on solving long-standing organizational problems:
- Identify the issues to isolate specific problems
- Understand everyone’s issues
- Write down a list of possible solutions
- Evaluate the solutions using pros and cons
- Work with other team leaders to develop contingencies and assign some to monitor progress
- Plan a series of team building events to help address specific issues individually.
2. Communication failings
One of the strengths of team building is to improve communication between team members. However, team building cannot always change how members communicate. Very often, colleagues fail when they have to offer constructive criticism. Either they shy away from it and don’t address the issue. Or they come across as being tactless.
What are the roadblocks to good communication in the workplace? Here are a few:
- Ego and a bad attitude get in the way of effective communication
- Cultural differences can make communicating in a diverse workplace challenging
- Passive listening stifles good, open communication
- A lack of motivation or interest causes listeners to ignore or disregard messages
- Communication takes place at the wrong time
Training employees on how to communicate with others in the workplace is crucial. In some cases, targeted training may be necessary and establish rules of engagement.
Related reading: How team building can boost cross-boundary communication.
3. Weak management styles
Targeted team building exercises can indeed help to discover leaders. However, team building won’t fix poor management processes. For example, micromanaging, arrogance, bullying, and complacency are management styles that team activities won’t resolve. Therefore, if some team leaders are poor performers, it will be necessary to sort the problem out another way.
According to Harvard Business School, some of the ways to improve management skills include the following:
- Improve your decision-making process
- Cultivate a high level of self-awareness and emotional intelligence
- Learn how to build trust and have faith in others
- Improve communication skills
- Engage with team members and managers regularly
It can help to organize a series of team building leadership events to address these solutions individually. However, don’t think a one-time event will solve all the problems simultaneously.
4. Resolve conflicts
Team building activities boost collaboration among colleagues and can help lessen conflict. Unfortunately, they may not help create a bond between warring colleagues or some who have clashing personality types. When they are back at the office, personality clashes may happen again.
If there are tensions to resolve in the workplace, you will need additional strategies. For example, it may be necessary for some intervention and conflict resolution. And if the team cannot work together, then a coaching program may be required.
5. Improve engagement
Employees who feel disengaged from the company may not find any benefit from team building events. In many cases, disengaged employees are unwilling to participate. And if they do take part, it’s usually half-heartedly. Therefore, it will be necessary to use other engagement strategies to assist some employees.
It’s also good to remember that high-energy team building activities will only help boost engagement when they happen regularly. This is because the effects of the energizing event eventually wear off. Therefore, it’s a mistake to think that a yearly team building outing will be enough, no matter how fun it was.
6. Boost productivity
Team building affects productivity by helping to foster relationships, build skills, and improve communication. However, it will only be effective when you regularly organize team events. Similar to the issue with engagement, the positive effects of team building are time limited. Therefore, the more often you organize events to build teams, the more productive your organization will become.
7. Enhance company culture
Team building should not be a one-time event that is then forgotten about. And a single team building activity won’t impact your organization’s culture. Instead, team building activities should form an integral part of an overall business strategy to improve morale, productivity, and communication.
In addition to organizing regular team building events, it’s important to do the following to strengthen your company’s culture:
- Give teams a measure of autonomy
- Encourage a culture of gratitude in the company
- Create positive employee experiences (and team building is great for that)
- Have a clear mission and values
- Cultivate strong employee relationships
- Be flexible
- Emphasize teamwork
- Get feedback and take it on board
When Team Building Becomes Ineffective at Fixing Issues
Some organizations feel that team building doesn’t work for them. Why does this happen? The chances are that business leaders make classic team building mistakes when organizing events. Here are three you must avoid for team building to resolve problems effectively.
- Being inconsistent: A one-off event can be fun and rewarding. But team building is an ongoing strategy in your company. It brings results when done consistently.
- Not understanding personalities: Team building events can fail to produce good results if you ignore team members’ interests and personalities. For instance, teams that are more number-driven may not enjoy artistic activities as much as a team of graphic designers. Before organizing any group activity, get to know your employees well enough so they feel comfortable participating.
- Making team building feel like a chore: Usually, not everyone wants to participate in every team building exercise. And there could be legitimate reasons for this. However, whether it’s fun or useful, individuals who feel forced to participate may not enjoy it. So, if you want people to feel good after the event, keep it fun and free from pressure to attend.
Planning a Team Building Event? Call FullTilt Team Development
Avoid team building mistakes by leaving it to the experts to organize. At FullTilt Team Development, we have many years of experience helping companies use corporate events to strengthen teams. We can also discuss your company goals to suggest a team building strategy.
Find out how we can assist you with organizing your next special occasion by contacting us at 310-400-6285 or fill out this easy online form for assistance.