Are your team building efforts a waste of time?

Let’s be honest.
Team building is often a waste of time.
It feels good in the moment but unfortunately does not lead to any changes in team performance or behavior.
Attending a team building session is often like a collective “New Year, New Team” experience. We are all fire and go but when reality sets in our new ambitions dwindle and disappear.
The frustration this creates is tangible.

Leaders are frustrated because the team is not committing and sticking to new behaviours.

Teams are frustrated because they must sit through another team building session knowing that nothing will change (or that the real issue is not being addressed).

Facilitators are frustrated because the work that they are doing with clients isn’t actioned.

But perhaps the biggest frustration is that the potential of the team goes untapped. That we can all so clearly see what the team could become yet we are unable to access that level of teamwork and performance.
Sitting in that frustration we think, “team building is a waste of time”.
And yes, it can be.
Most of the time it is.
But perhaps it’s not the tool, it’s how it’s being used.
A scalpel won’t do you any good if you are trying to cut through a piece of steel. However, it is perfect for a surgical cut requiring absolute precision.

You cannot say that team building is a waste of time if you aren’t using the right tool to help you stitch together the team.

The tool most often used for team building: talks about teamwork.
The tool most ineffective for team building: talks about teamwork.
Here’s an extract from a meta-analysis that was done on improving teamwork:

“In summary, simply lecturing about the importance of teamwork is not sufficient to create meaningful improvements in teamwork; rather, substantive positive effects can be derived by having team members engage in activities that require them to actively learn about and practise teamwork.”

For our teams to be better at teamwork – they need to practice teamwork.
But how?
Watch out for next week’s edition of Build Better Teams.


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