Team Building is Not an Annual Affair

What kind of image do you conjure up when someone mentions the phrase “team building.” If your head starts spinning with visions of trust falls, rock climbing, playing with Legos or some other game type of activity, you’re not alone. That’s what most people think of when they hear those words. And along with that comes a lot of rolling eyes and groans about wasting time.

It’s a shame team building has such a bad name because of poorly executed experiential team building days that became so popular in the nineties. Experiential team building can be the catalyst that causes a breakthrough in a team if done correctly and integrated with your team’s regular objectives and goals. But the biggest problem with them is that they typically occur only once a year. That’s not enough to maintain your team. Team building is definitely not an annual affair.

Let’s think back to why you have a team in the first place. Your team was created with a specific purpose — to accomplish a project, or focus organizational efforts in a specific direction, or to accomplish a certain goal. These activities take place every single day. And so should your team building.

Here’s what I recommend to help you build your team.

  • Develop a set of ground rules that define how your team members are supposed to behave. These are things like communicate openly, be on time for meetings, meet commitments, and resolve conflict effectively.
  • Create an environment where your team ground rules can be carried out. This should include both a virtual and face-to-face space that allows for plenty of interaction in your team.
  • Set up a regular schedule of meetings, about once a month, for the sole purpose of monitoring your team’s health. The objective of these meetings will be single thread — to talk about how effective the communication methods are within the team, or discuss what processes are working or not working, or to determine whether meetings are effective or not. In other words, monitoring your team health focuses on the interactions of your team that enable its goals to be accomplished.

When you consider team building as part of your day-to-day activities, your team will be a healthy one that functions well together to accomplish its goals.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. Follow her @askteamdoc.

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  • Kitty

    Team Building is one of those terms which has been bouncing around since the 1980's. Unfortunately,as a term, it seems to have encapsulated the essence of greedy corporates with opposite polarities needing to be coerced into a team.

    As an L&D specialist, I shudder at the phrase. We often correct it's use and replace it with 'team development'.

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  • http://www.deniseoberry.com deniseoberry

    Kitty — I know. It makes so many people cringe. I like that term — team development — it actually reflects the truth about what is occurring. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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  • http://www.movingfrommetowe.com KareAnderson

    Ground rules are akin to rules of engagement. if it is a self-organized team then one vital rule is the criteria by which the team can kick a member out. Another is the criteria for inviting/accepting a new member.

    Collaboration is also easier when there is a commonly-understood sweet spot of mutual benefit and clear, specific, actionable top goal.

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