Expensive team building activities can be a complete waste of money because they don’t address the real problems teams face.

A lovely day out of the office participating in things such as a cooking class, bowling or building a raft provides a short-term bonding experience but doesn’t address the real dysfunction in the team. When you get back to the office the same tense situations and conflicts still arise because they have not been resolved properly. Building a raft together isn’t going to fix the real problems you have.

Many companies deciding to invest in these events in order to build relationships, bolster the team spirit and improve collaboration. Though events like these may get people to feel closer for a while. The bonds created don’t last long under the day-to-day pressures of an organisation focused on delivering results.

Reasons why team building activities fail in the workplace

There is a huge difference between socialising and team building. Most activities conducted in the name of team building at a workplace actually only provide the employees with a chance to socialise. Another major problem with these types of team building activities is they can leave individuals feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed as you ask them to participate in activities that often rely on their physical aptitude and are irrelevant to their role.

The goal of team building is to boost communication among the team members or across different teams at the workplace. However, unless well facilitated, this happens rarely because most people will spend their time with only a few of their colleagues whom they already know before. Therefore, team building activities at the workplace can actually fail to encourage socialisation by reinforcing divisions in the teams.

If there are two competitive people in your team at the workplace, pitching them against each other in a team-building task may not always give you the best results. It is better to start focusing on constructive group exercises which bring people together, instead of the competitive ones which can turn them against each other.

What can you do as a leader to get your team to collaborate better?

1. Have conversations that count. Ensure your team is able to share what is really holding back productivity and teamwork. If they know they can communicate what is wrong without being judged you will have a much happier team on your hands.

2. Share a common goal. If team members don’t have a common goal they won’t aim for it. One study has shown that teams are five times more motivated if they share a common goal. Make sure you define it together and share it regularly with the team.

3. Ask questions and really listen. The art of being a good leader is to ask your team the difficult questions and really listen to the answers. How can you build on what they are saying? What can you do differently to make the team understand each other and work better together?

If you want to bring your team together, focus on improving how you communicate and work on the quality of the relationships as well as connecting people to the common goal. Team building will only flourish when you make it very clear to everyone why working together is essential to achieve results for your organisation as a whole. It is important that your employees know what they and their team are working towards and are rewarded as a team for their efforts.

If you want help with building a more cohesive team get in touch by emailing hello@jocowlin.com to find out more about my bespoke team packages.

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