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Team Building Overload: When Team Building Loses Its Meaning

When team building loses its meaning

In recent years, the concept of "team building" has morphed into an all-encompassing catch-all phrase, and team building is losing its meaning.

Traditionally, team building uses evidence-based techniques to aid the natural team development process and enhance team performance over time.

To foster deep working relationships, better performance, real camaraderie, trust, and psychological safety among team members in a professional setting is the aim.

However, as the term has evolved, it is now used as a catch-all for a wide range of activities from social outings to overly elaborate workshops. This expansion raises the question: has the essence of true team building been lost amidst this deluge of activities?

When team building loses its meaning, real teams suffer the consequences.

Letting an originally meaningful term now encompass a plethora of activities and approaches that may not necessarily serve the original purpose can waste time and money, and at times actually cause harm to real teams.

One of the primary culprits behind this dilution of the term has been the growing industry around lower end team building activities. Companies using the term team building as a catch-all marketing and SEO phrase to sell all sorts of games and experiences have mushroomed, providing a vast array of options under the term, from sip and paint, paintball and lawn bowls to escape rooms and everything in between.

While these activities can be enjoyable and even beneficial in certain contexts to the overall team building process, they are not synonymous with the genuine team building process itself.

The true essence of team building lies in proper diagnostics to understand team strengths and weaknesses (using tools such as The Belbin Model) and working at depth over time to foster effective team dynamics and working relationships, rather than simply engaging in one-off recreational activities.

While some workshops genuinely focus on improving team dynamics, many have become formulaic off-site gimmicks and lack meaningful, lasting impact. Often just selecting a fun box tick for an off-site that has been palmed off to a busy PA.

The cookie-cutter approach often fails to address the unique challenges and dynamics of individual teams or the enhancement of performance. In such cases, team building becomes a one-size-fits-all solution, just pick something that looks fun and that has been called a ‘team building activity’ which may or may not yield the desired results. Indeed, a poorly timed or selected activity may seriously harm team dynamics and relationships.

Confusing leisure or fun time at a conference with true team-building endeavors can lead to a superficial understanding of the concept and false sense of security that we are working on the genuine team building process.

While these fun activities have their merits, they should not be mistaken for genuine team-building efforts or worse, assumed to be achieving real team building aims.

It is crucial for organizations to recognize the distinction and invest in meaningful, tailored approaches to foster true teamwork and collaboration. By re-evaluating and refocusing our understanding of team building, we can restore its power as a tool for building genuinely stronger, more cohesive teams.

To see how we use Sabre and Belbin approaches to create anything from fun team building to the real thing get in touch:

T – 1300 731 381 E –

and our Belbin website is at


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