Not all team building adds lasting value.
The term ‘team building’ is widely used. It commonly appears online to describe everything from purely leisure-based fun to more substantial team and leadership development initiatives.
Whilst purely fun approaches have their place, and can aid in basic networking and relationship development, they are often limited for adding lasting value and may even prove harmful if poorly timed or designed.
Random selection and staging of team building sessions is at best hit or miss. You may have a win, but it is far less likely that people will walk away with the depth of understanding and practical steps for improving teams back at work.
In some cases poorly planned or timed team sessions can serve to re-enforce superficial assumptions about roles and personality stereotypes or further entrench adversarial attitudes between individuals and sub-teams.
More discrimination is required to match the right approach, activity and follow through to the actual needs of a team and also the organisational culture within which they reside.
Targeted team development approaches (as distinct from purely fun experiences) can easily incorporate interactive fun, but will also incorporate more sophisticated design elements for genuine take-away value.
A simple three step formula works well for us is:
Step 1 – Use quality behavioural profiling and reports for evidence-based design
Understanding how one another’s behaviour actually impacts workplace relationships and performance is vital for smoother and faster team development.
We use Belbin individual profiles and reports, team reports and working relationship reports to accurately map what’s really going on within a team.
This proven and robust approach reveals strengths and weaknesses in a way that can actually be discussed and used for aiding the team development process.
Step 2 – Select and tailor the right activities and sessions to suit the needs of the team
Just ticking the boxes for an off-site team build with a reality TV parody may be fun, but it may not enable individuals to gain useful insight into how to build better working relationships back at work.
Activities should be carefully picked and adapted to suit the needs of where the team is at in terms of its development stages, and also the prevailing behavioural strengths and weaknesses present within the team.
The right activity can impart quick insights into key inter-personal and team tactics, the wrong one could damage relationships and actually serve to retard team development.
Step 3 – Teach them to fish with meaningful follow-through back at work
The power of measuring real workplace behaviours, then bringing them to life with the right activities can provide a great foundation and ‘Trojan Horse’ for workplace follow up.
Teaching people and teams how to have the real conversations about their impacts upon one another, projects and business performance is key. Self-guided team reviews, audit sessions and follow-up reports to measure progress keep good intentions and commitments alive.
This evidence-based and action-oriented approach works.
Targeted follow-through ensures far greater value for money from any investment in genuine team building.