Teamscapes Business Development Manager, Sean Coxon, has written a great blog here about team building and what it really means...
Unsurprisingly, I hear the phrase ‘We want to do some Team Building’ used very frequently in my job and more often than not my initial reaction is ‘So what?’ Not in a facetious way but an inquisitive one.
Team Building is such a broad concept to get to grips with.
What does 'Team Building' actually mean?
- A Fun activity to lighten the mood at the end of a long meeting
- An opportunity to bond with fellow team members
- An introduction on a personal level to engage employees
- Healthy competition between teams
- An opportunity to develop individuals in order to create a high performing team.
The Generalist term 'Team Building' can be broken down into 3 separate categories
- Team Bonding
- Team Building
- Experiential Learning
So what, is the difference?
Team Bonding is a great way to introduce Team Members on a more personal level and having an activity such as Archery or Go-Karting can be a fun way to get to know each other. However it can also be divisive within a team.
We may find out that that Alison is possibly going to be the first Female Formula 1 Driver to take the world by storm, whereas Steve should seriously consider re-taking his driving Test.
While everyone has a great time and Alison will feel on the top of the world, Steve could potentially be feeling a little jaded and withdrawn from the group.
Team bonding could be just as affective by going to the bar after a meeting, or going for a walk together. It’s about getting to know your colleagues and peers on a more personal level to find some common ground.
Team Building is all inclusive, the team works together to achieve a goal. They share workloads, ideas and most importantly they share success.
It’s about identifying strengths within the team, identifying roles within the team and when combined with a behavioural profiling model such as Insights, Belbin or MBTI (Other profiling models are available) you now have a really formidable tool for developing a high performing team.
Experiential Learning is learning by experience and is considered by many to be the most influential way of developing, not only a team, but individuals too.
It provides a safe environment to practice the skills learned by demonstrating understanding using a pragmatic approach and if the learning outcome isn’t achieved, we review, we reflect and we try again.
The learner can then take what they have learned and apply it to real world contexts. This represents real value to the individual and the organisation.
The tasks they undertake are merely the tool or analogy used to represent work, the powerful part is in the facilitation of the event. Extracting the desired learning outcomes and setting the commitments going forward to take back into the workplace.
Why are you Team Building? For fun? or do you want to get a return on your investment by developing your team members or yourself?
Any activities we participate in under the umbrella of Team Building are pretty ineffective in isolation. They need to be included in a learning process with a clearly defined learning objective. Expert facilitation is required to draw out the learning and for me, this is what Team Building is.