How to Avoid Bad Team Building Strategies

Team building is one of the most important investments you can make in your organization’s workforce. The benefits of team building – better bilateral communication skills, cooperative and collaborative skills, and interpersonal ties – all increase employee engagement by a wide margin; in turn, this engagement drives organizational productivity. This isn’t opinion – it’s hard science.

Yet almost every worker has experienced something that, while being branded as “team building,” actually wasn’t. Companies keen to reap the rewards of team building training, but without a firm grasp of what types of activities are successful and what types aren’t, have given team building a bad reputation. But no more – below we’ll identify bad team building strategies, why they’re so bad, and how to avoid them by choosing better ones.

Team Building Needs to Be (Mostly) Serious Business

Many organizations have trouble finding the right balance between serious and fun when it comes to their team building activities. This is, of course, difficult – supervisors want to ensure that the message gets across, which can lead to an overabundance of rigid structure that push practical takeaways to employees that resent the force-feeding. Meanwhile, training events that aren’t focused enough – ones that are closer to a company picnic in structure – are a waste of time and resources, as workers leave with little to no teamwork-centric lessons at all.

Finding the golden ratio for your company is going to take some trial and error. Ultimately, it takes a close analysis of your company culture, current worker morale, and other similar factors before making a final decision on the tone and style of your own specific team building strategy. While it’s obviously hard to quantify some of these soft metrics, a good rule of thumb to consider is a ratio of around 65% serious messaging and 35% lightheartedness. This gets the point across in a suitably serious manner while still keeping workers engaged in the event on an emotional level.

Team Building Should Be a Regular Event – To a Point

Team building at regular intervals is excellent for reinforcing skills and increasing employee retention of the lessons learned during these events. While it’s certainly true that not enough team building leads to requisite skills atrophying over the course of a work year, but  the concept of “too much of a good thing” is certainly at play here; workers exposed to the same types of team building exercises on too regular a schedule are likely to see diminishing returns when it comes to increased engagement or productivity.

Instead, a better strategy is to plan your organization’s team building events to coincide with important milestones. Starting afresh with updated team building in a new fiscal or calendar year is always ideal, for instance. Additional team building is also appropriate whenever an established team receives an influx of new members. Whether it’s a workgroup onboarding a new hire or an entire department merging with another, such instances are ideal for re-establishing the core lessons team-building activities teach.

Seek Expert-Level Guidance

Finding the right strategies to apply to your organization’s team building events can be challenging. That’s why it’s always advisable to seek expert-level guidance from those who know the best standards and practices. If you’re keen to avoid making mistakes with your own team building activities, contact us today and we’ll show you how we can help.