Team-building; Yay or nay?

02 augustus 2021

Because we’ve worked with so many companies and teams over the years, leaders will often ask us how we feel about team-building activities.

And the truth is it depends.

The challenge with these activities is that they often don’t consider that team members tend to have different preferences, pet peeves and comfort zones. Something that might seem enjoyable to some, might put others into a “how-soon-can-I-get-an-absentee-note-from-my-doctor”-mood in a split second.

Turns out that it’s surprisingly hard to come up with something that everyone will genuinely enjoy, and an activity that causes anxiety for some members... doesn’t tend to have the desired bonding effect one would hope for either.

Secondly, too often team-building activities are called upon when a team dynamic is already in trouble. Sometimes there’s an ongoing conflict between certain employees, sometimes there’s  a drop in overall motivation.

Sometimes the team is just not really connecting.

And in those cases, a team-building activity might seem like an easy way out of the mess.

The idea of people sitting together, roasting marshmallows over a fire after a long day of dodging paintball bullets in the woods, feels like a magic wand that’ll make all difficulties melt away.

But of course, it never really does.

Unfortunately there is not a single activity out there that can magically turn a toxic team dynamic around. And that's because when things aren’t running smoothly in the office’s day-to-day, it’s doesn’t tend to be a team-building problem.

It tends to be a leadership problem.

So ask yourself: “how’s the team dynamic at the moment?”

If things are not going great, first:

  • Invest in day-to-day connection with the team
  • Restore psychological safety
  • Re-align the team’s objectives and consistently remind everyone how these will be achieved together

And then, when everyone’s (back) on board, maybe it could be a lovely idea to have a little fun together — the kind that is genuinely fun for everyone involved.

Like a cherry on top of an already connected cake ;)