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The inconvenient truth about team building

Changes and fads have come and gone, but the fundamentals that underpin any effective team building or team development programme remain solid.

Success is often about carefully differentiating between purely fun and leisure based experiences that might be called ‘team building’ versus those that are actually aimed at real business improvement.

Often too much faith is placed upon activity content and ‘bells and whistles’ alone. Working in the team building space since 1988, we have accumulated a significant amount of data, insight and experience about what works, and what doesn’t.

Activities alone risk any de-brief / linking to real world follow-through being merely ‘fluffy’ and vague. The mere ‘talkfests’ that can ensue after a team build often come to nothing once day to day pressures from the real world return.

Elements from both the fun and the developmental ends of the spectrum can be drawn upon, but in a nutshell, don’t expect fun and leisure based approaches alone to achieve lasting results. Factual data about individual and team strengths, weaknesses and culture needs to underpin any attempt to obtain truly lasting impact.

Team building can still incorporate fun and activity based content, but the truth of the matter is that if you want substantive impact, you must use some solid evidence based insight as well to underpin the process and give it credibility.

Using evidence based behavioural profiling before, during and after any team based initiative helps to ensure that it is anchored in real business aims and improvements.

Evidence based behavioural profiles such as those of the Belbin Model shine a light onto what is actually happening within a team. They also offer pragmatic advice on what will really impact the team at its best, and at its worst.

Using individual, team and working relationship reports in tandem with classic team building will create lasting impact by pinpointing behavioural root causes for strengths and weaknesses.

With good pre programme diagnostics, appropriate activities and targeted follow-through team outcomes can include…

  • Real business improvements that are evidence based.

  • Engaging people with their strengths, and then building better working relationships between people that leverage off one another.

  • Raising levels of self-awareness and effectiveness with work in mind.

  • Understanding individual and collective strengths, weaknesses, biases and then developing methods to better manage them under pressure.

  • Genuine tools for leaders to engage and develop people and teams back at work.

Taking the time and effort to obtain real data on the team and relationship dynamics will pay off. A common language will also exist to better explore how to leverage the team’s genuine strengths, and offset its weaknesses back at work.

Purely fun team building has its place, but the inconvenient truth is that as a stand-alone tool it can achieve little long-term payoff for a business.

We all want more effective and harmonious teams, but it cannot happen by interactive fun alone.

Ideally you’ll make use of some reliable underpinning smarts, as well as the fun.


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