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Team Building Activities Fail for These Simple Reasons

Team building activities—when done correctly—are a great way to bolster teamwork, foster collaboration, build morale, and strengthen company culture. However, many organizations complain that their team building events fail. The main reasons why these team activities miss the mark are due to a lack of engagement, resources, and clearly defined goals.

When team building activities fail, it is often because the company has not taken the time to plan and execute them properly. Without a clear goal or purpose, team members may feel like they are just going through the motions and not getting anything out of the activity. Additionally, if there is no participation from team members, the activity will be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, some organizations don’t view team building events as an investment. Therefore, they fail to assign adequate resources. For example, they may use an internal team leader rather than hiring an external facilitator. Or they could hire a below-par events company to save money but end with a facilitator resembling a camp counselor. However, like with any investment, it is important to invest resources to ensure a successful, profitable outcome.

This article explores the many reasons team building events can fail. Knowing these reasons will help avoid making mistakes that other companies make. At the end of the article, you’ll learn how to organize team building events that build successful teams by strengthening teamwork and company culture.

What Are Effective Team Building Activities?

Team building is the continual process of creating an effective and unified work group. Group activities teach team members to work together and collaborate to meet common goals. At the same time, well-organized effective team building games create an atmosphere of trust, support, and respect for each member’s unique strengths.

Reasons Team Building Activities Fail

A team-building strategy fails, not because team building is inherently ineffective, but because it’s poorly executed. For example, maybe facilitators fail to engage the entire team. Or the events hosting company plan “run-of-the-mill” activities that get everyone’s eyes rolling. Very often, a company fails to have a team-building strategy in place.

However, in the modern workplace, organizing team building exercises is a must. More and more organizations rely on effective teams to gain a competitive edge. For example, a study found that business organizations enjoy the following advantages from high-performing teams:

  • Increased creativity and learning opportunities
  • Effective teams build trust and mutual respect and strengthen relationships
  • Effective teamwork helps resolve conflicts
  • Team members are more confident in taking risks

It’s vital to remember that getting a group of professionals together doesn’t form a team. Instead, individual team members must learn how to collaborate and share responsibility as they work toward a shared goal.

The only way to achieve this is to ensure your next team building event is successful. But if team building activities are so great, why do so many fail? Please read on to find out.

Related reading: Qualities of the best team building facilitators.

Team Building Activities — 10 Reasons Why They Fail

Poor team building can result from neglecting to manage the events properly. However, a skilled facilitator in a team building event can help keep individual employees engaged and reduce communication problems. This positively impacts the team dynamics by encouraging everyone to participate and have fun.

planning company retreat

Team building image: The importance of a team building facilitator

Facilitators at Full Tilt Team Development have discovered ten common reasons why team building activities could fail to achieve their goals.

1. Team building activities lack clear goals

The most common reason some team building exercises fail is that there is no goal. Every event should be organized with a goal in mind. Specific goals could be to improve leadership skills, develop effective communication, improve problem-solving abilities, or build mutual trust.

Therefore, discussing your company’s long-term strategic goals with an experienced team building facilitator is crucial. They can ensure that team exercises create the right conditions to strengthen the collaboration of the entire team.

2. Using poorly-trained team building facilitators doesn’t work

Many organizations fail to hire events managers who do not understand the basic principles of organizing effective team building events. For example, some facilitators work more like “camp counselors” whose primary goal is to create a “fun day out.”

Of course, indoor or outdoor activities for team building should be fun. However, they must be designed to help the team reach a shared goal.

3. Team building event facilitators don’t know their audience

One of the common reasons for team failure is that facilitators don’t get to know the team dynamics. This can result in planning the wrong type of events for groups of people together who don’t bond or hardly know each other. Therefore, before running an event, discussing the goals you want to achieve is vital.

4. Team building events are forced

Poor team performance often results from forcing individuals to participate in events that make them feel awkward. For example, a study by Sydney University found that team leaders can jeopardize events if team members feel forced to participate. Therefore, team events are more successful when participation is voluntary, not mandatory.

To avoid this situation, talk to an experienced team building events company to get the best advice on boosting employee engagement. Full Tilt organizes events that do not make participants feel silly, awkward, or embarrassed. This is the best way to make team building exercises successful.

5. Some team building exercises include the wrong people

Team building activities can fail when you try to combine people from other teams or departments. This approach can be counter-productive as it may lead to confusion and lack of focus on the task at hand. Therefore, it’s best to include members from the same team or department.

Of course, one of the benefits of organizing team events is that they can break down barriers between departments. However, if this is your goal, it’s best to consider team bonding. These activities focus on creating connections between different teams or departments rather than productivity goals.

team building activities everone hates

To ensure your team event achieves its goal, you should speak to an experienced facilitator. They can organize a tailored program to help team members work more effectively or to break down silos in organizations.

6. Team building events fail when they reward individuals, not teams

A common reason a team activity fails to succeed is that it rewards individual efforts. This results in a dysfunctional team because it encourages unhealthy competition rather than collaboration. The result is resentment and a lack of trust and motivation, which cause rivalry in the team spirit.

Therefore, it’s important to design team building activities that reward the entire team for their efforts. This will help them understand the importance of working together and create a sense of unity within the group. Furthermore, when the entire celebrates success—even due to the efforts of a few—it builds morale and a continuous striving for excellence.

7. Team building should challenge the participants to work

Team building activities must challenge individuals; otherwise, they will fail. Participating in challenging events in a fun, safe environment helps members develop new skills or strengthen existing skills for the workplace.  They teach participants how to deal with difficult situations and learn how to rely on each other.

Therefore, challenges allow team members to practice problem-solving, leadership and improved communication skills without fear of failure. These crucial skills can be a vital rehearsal for real-office scenarios.

8. Team leaders fail to follow through after events

Team leaders must follow through after the event to prevent team building activities from failing. Without proper follow-up, it is easy for teams to slip back into their old habits and routines. Following up after the event can ensure that the investment in team building pays dividends because team members continue to feel motivated and engaged.

The best way to follow through is to discuss what worked, what could be improved, and whether or not goals were accomplished in a team meeting. This allows everyone on the team to provide feedback on how the activity impacted their work. It also provides valuable insights to ensure the next team building event is successful.

9. Using team building exercises to fix major problems

One of the biggest team building mistakes is using team activities to fix big problems in a team or organization. For example, major issues like a toxic workplace environment, lack of company culture, morale issues, or lack of strategy must be addressed by the entire company, typically from the top.

Team building activities are not designed as preventative measures to encourage cohesive teamwork, mutual trust, and respect. Instead, think of team building as the difference between changing the oil on your vehicle or taking for major repairs. Regular servicing—i.e., a team building strategy—will prevent a major breakdown. But if something breaks, a simple oil change will not fix it.

Therefore, organizations need to recognize when there are major structural problems and take steps toward rectifying them before attempting any team building activities.

10. Thinking virtual team building events work

A common reason team building events end in disaster is that managers think virtual events can replace in-person ones. Although virtual team building was useful during the health pandemic of 2020 through 2022, they have limitations. For example, the disadvantages of virtual team building are a lack of human interaction, no eye contact, and they are severely limited in their scope.

Related reading: The pros and cons of virtual team building.

Why Full Tilt Team Development Activities Never Fail

Full Tilt has many years of experience in organizing effective team building events. Our activities are individually designed to your specific company requirement and goals. The exercises challenge individuals and teams in a fun, safe environment to develop the skills you need in the workplace.

To ensure team building success, we only use trained and experienced facilitators. They host events that boost employee engagement and focus on various activities, including problem-solving, communication, and leadership skills.

Our team building events are tailored to the specific needs of each organization. We also provide follow-up support after the event to ensure that teams continue to work together effectively.

How to Find Team Building Activities Near Me

Full Tilt organizes team building events near you. For example, our outdoor or indoor scavenger hunts, cardboard boat race events, cooking competitions, or interactive leadership training events take place in every major city in the United States. We also organize events in Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.

To organize your next team building event–guaranteed not to fail—please contact us today at 310-400-6285 or via our contact page. We will be happy to discuss your needs and provide you with a tailored solution that meets your requirements.