Teambuilding: A Useful Exercise, Or Just Exercise?
Lots of companies engage in teambuilding events and efforts — for lots of different reasons. Some managers are focused on trying to get their people to “gel” as a team, or in raising productivity levels, or encouraging initiative and problem-solving.
On the face of it, this seems like sound thinking. Businesses today are challenged by staggeringly dynamic (as in rapidly changing) marketplaces — and by continually evolving client needs. So why not foster team development?
Before you sign the troops up to climb ropes, practice “trust falls,” and engage in wilderness problem-solving or fire-walking, consider this.
There are two great reasons to engage in teambuilding exercises:
- They are fun.
- They can be a great way for a functioning team to evolve to a higher level.
In general, new or low-functioning teams won’t get to a higher level of functioning simply by being asked to complete a series of exercises. While they may successfully interact, discover new skills, and do what they are instructed to, they will still need an opportunity to work together in “real-life” to achieve their sense of team identity at work.
Much better than contrived teambuilding exercises is the creation of opportunities to do good work together — to solve real business problems, and to establish and achieve goals. This kind of interaction gives people an opportunity to share their ideas with one another, to see their ideas put into practice, and realize their objectives.
For functioning teams that need to discover new ways of leveraging skills or to solve frustrating business problems, teambuilding exercises can be a useful way of creating an opportunity to interact with one another differently. This different way of working together — you may have seen similar recommendations for families to change places at the dinner table — can help to stimulate changes in thinking and team process, which can lead to great new product and business ideas.
The message? Choose your teambuilding exercises carefully, and focus on using the opportunity to solve the specific problem your team is having.