So what is 'Team Building'?
These days the term ‘team building’ has become somewhat of a Google search term and catch all for pretty much any group activity or experience that might be booked for a team to participate in.
This can range from lawn bowls and cooking classes to reality TV parodies like Amazing Races / treasure hunts. It can also encompass more sophisticated project based team challenge tasks or business games. These could perhaps be more accurately terms ‘team events’ or ‘team activities’.
The actual process of ‘team building’ is far more sophisticated and deals with the inter-personal behavioural processes that unfold as teams are formed and subsequently develop. Its aim is to build and develop a truly effective team over time.
So are you seeking a one-off event to enhance an off-site, or to enhance the genuine process of team building for a real team?
Tuckman’s model of Form – Storm – Norm – Perform describes the four classic stages that teams go through as they develop. Many other models also exist to define team building, but Tuckman’s model still holds up as arguably the simplest and most accurate we feel.
The actual process of team building can also be enhanced and accelerated by undertaking individual and team profiling.
Tools such as the Belbin Team Role Model, along with insights from current neuroscience into how the social systems of the human brain engage as teams form and develop can also help.
Purely activity-based approaches can have utility if properly formatted, de-briefed and clearly linked to behavioural and team objectives.
Many purely activity based approaches if deployed as one-offs however have little genuine impact on the actual team building process.
In fact if poorly chosen, or deployed in the wrong way and at the wrong stage of a team’s development they can actually harm the natural team building process.
So when you are thinking of “team building”, spare a thought as to whether you are thinking in terms of activities and events at off-sites, or the actual process of people building and developing an effective team.
The former can be a simple Google search and picking from an ever-growing menu of options, the latter demanding more careful thought and selection.
A carefully designed strategy that incorporates profiling and reports, workshops and well-timed activities can be of great effect at accelerating and enhancing the team building process.