Benefits of Team Building and Key Activities

Michael Jordan famously said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.” When overseeing any project, fostering team unity is essential to reaching our goals. This is where the concept of team building comes in. It involves creating activities beyond mere post-work gatherings, aiming to strengthen the bonds and cohesion among all team members, even those from different departments.

Team Building — Much more than a concept

Team building is not a new concept. This tool dates back to the 1930s with psychologists like Elton Mayo, who theorized how fostering unity and teamwork within companies could enhance productivity. Numerous theories delve into this concept, offering strategies to improve these dynamics to achieve better results and uncover the true potential of teamwork, even beyond the workplace setting.

Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing

This model, introduced by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, outlines the four phases every team goes through from its inception to reaching its peak performance.

  • 1º Forming: When a new team is formed, individuals may not be sure of their purpose, how they fit in, or whether they will work well together.
  • 2º Storming: They start to push beyond the established boundaries, and conflicts or friction arise among team members as their “true characters” (and the roles they adopt) emerge and clash with each other.
  • 3º Norming: Gradually, the team moves into a stage in which individuals begin to resolve their differences, appreciate each other’s strengths, and respect the authority of their leader.
  • 4º Performing: Finally, the team reaches a final stage in which they uncover and achieve their shared goals efficiently.

 

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Patrick Lencioni, a renowned author and consultant in leadership and team management, developed a model to help teams reach their full potential. According to Lencioni, a high-performing team must overcome five challenges or dysfunctions that can affect its effectiveness: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. These challenges are represented in a pyramid, in which each level depends on the previous one and must be addressed before advancing to the next.

 

Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model

Hersey and Blanchard argue that it’s not about the team adapting to the leader but rather the leader adapting to the team. According to them, a good leader can adjust to the needs of their employees by assessing and understanding their situation. In other words, there isn’t one universal leadership style that applies to everyone; leaders must adapt their approach based on the maturity level of team members, where maturity is composed of two aspects: one psychological and the other related to the task or position.

Uncovering the Power of Team Building

 

Improves internal communication and strengthens team spirit

Think of the team like a boat where each member handles an oar. Even if everyone is rowing together, if each person has their own style or rhythm, the boat might not move smoothly forward: it could go slowly, veer off course, or even get stuck. Clear communication and shared goals act as guides, ensuring the team moves in the right direction efficiently and resolves any conflict that may come up along the way. However, clear communication and shared goals don’t just happen magically. Communication is often weak for many teams, and unclear goals can add to the challenge. The good news is that both can be improved through specific activities. Employees can learn to communicate effectively, build trust, and define common goals, even with diverse backgrounds.

 

Innovation and creativity

According to a study from Stanford University, team building boosts employees’ innovation and creativity by over 20%. Why? Because it fosters an environment of trust and security, reducing the fear of judgment or failure that often holds back our ideas. Also, sharing and contrasting diverse perspectives encourages divergent thinking, enabling each member to contribute to creating groundbreaking projects.

 

It strengthens brand image

Escape Room: Jewel Heist was an event hosted by Coca-Cola, which saw their conference room in Tennessee transformed into an exhilarating escape room experience. Packed with puzzles and challenges, employees had two hours to uncover clues, solve puzzles, and recover stolen jewels. This activity promoted collaboration and communication under pressure and showcased how Coca-Cola embodies its core values: spreading happiness through shared good moments. A positive corporate culture is a valuable asset cherished by both employees and customers. That’s why when Coca-Cola launched this initiative, it not only boosted employee morale but also built a more appealing and relatable brand.

How can I introduce team building in my company?

 

Outdoor Training

Outdoor Training is one of the most popular team building activities. Unlike what some might think, it’s not just about outdoor physical exercises; it’s an experience that combines physical and mental challenges to foster skills such as leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork.

 

Create a relaxation space

Do not underestimate the power of a good relaxation corner in the office. You don’t need to mimic Google’s relaxation areas — a simple, comfortable space where employees can take a break and socialize is enough. These places foster casual interaction and offer an escape from daily stress, contributing to greater job satisfaction.

Volunteering

Volunteering together is a powerful way to make a difference in the community while also strengthening team bonds. These activities offer the chance to support a worthy cause and allow employees to see their colleagues in a different light, fostering empathy and teamwork toward goals beyond project delivery.

 

Icebreakers

These games are ideal for the team to get to know each other better, but they are also fun to play with teammates you’ve known for a long time. Besides, they are easy to organize, and you can use them to introduce new team members. Some of these games are “Two Truths and a Lie,” “Birthday Line” (ñ team members line up by birth date without verbally communicating), or “What Would X Do?” ( the team has to solve a problem by thinking and acting like a famous character).

 

We know. Introducing these team building activities might seem daunting at first, especially for companies new to this area. That’s why there are professionals and specialized firms available to assist in designing and executing these activities. They can also provide the necessary training so your company can eventually organize such initiatives in-house.

As you’ve probably noticed, the perks of introducing team building activities are pretty clear: a tighter, more cooperative team, employees who are happier and more motivated, and a company that appears more appealing to both its staff and its clients. Mary Kay Ash once said, “A company is only as good as the people who work in it.”

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