Team Building refers to a wide range of activities, presented to businesses, schools, sports teams, religious or nonprofit organizations designed for improving team performance. Team building is pursued via a variety of practices, and can range from simple bonding exercises to complex simulations and multi-day team building retreats designed to develop a team (including group assessment and group-dynamic games), usually falling somewhere in between. It generally sits within the theory and practice of organizational development, but can also be applied to sports teams, school groups, and other contexts. Team building is not to be confused with "team recreation" that consists of activities for teams that are strictly recreational. Teambuilding is an important factor in any environment, its focus is to specialize in bringing out the best in a team to ensure self development, positive communication, leadership skills and the ability to work closely together as a team to problem solve.
Work environments tend to focus on individuals and personal goals, with reward & recognition singling out the achievements of individual employees. "How to create effective teams is a challenge in every organization. Team building can also refer to the process of selecting or creating a team from scratch.
Reasons for Team Building include
§ Improving communication
§ Making the workplace more enjoyable
§ Motivating a team
§ Getting to know each other
§ Getting everyone "onto the same page", including goal setting
§ Teaching the team self-regulation strategies
§ Helping participants to learn more about themselves (strengths and weaknesses)
§ Identifying and utilizing the strengths of team members
§ Improving team productivity
§ Practicing effective collaboration with team members
What are Team Building Exercises and what is their purpose?
Team building exercises consist of a variety of tasks designed to develop group members and their ability to work together effectively. There are many types of team building activities that range from kids games to games that involve novel complex tasks and are designed for specific needs. There are also more complex team building exercises that are composed of multiple exercises such as ropes courses, corporate drumming and exercises that last over several days. The purpose of team building exercises is to assist teams in becoming cohesive units of individuals that can effectively work together to complete tasks.
This type of team building exercise is exactly what it sounds like. Communications exercises are problem solving activities that are geared towards improving communication skills. The issues teams encounter in these exercises are solved by communicating effectively with each other.
• Goal: Create an activity which highlights the importance of good communication in team performance and/or potential problems with communication.
Problem Solving/Decision Making Exercise
Problem Solving/Decision making exercises focus specifically on groups working together to solve difficult problems or make complex decisions. These exercises are some of the most common as they appear to have the most direct link to what employers want their teams to be able to do.
• Goal: Give team a problem in which the solution is not easily apparent or requires the team to come up with a creative solution
These exercises focus on aspects of planning and being adaptable to change. These are important things for teams to be able to do when they are assigned complex tasks or decisions. • Goal: Show the importance of planning before implementing a solution
A trust exercise involves engaging team members in a way that will induce trust between them. They are sometimes difficult exercises to implement as there are varying degrees of trust between individuals and varying degrees of individual comfort trusting others in general.
• Goal: Create trust between team members
Subgroups of Team Building Exercises
§ simple social activities - to encourage team members to spend time together
§ group bonding sessions - company sponsored fun activities to get to know team members (sometimes intending also to inspire creativity)
§ personal development activities - individual programs given to groups (sometimes physically challenging)
§ team development activities - group-dynamic games designed to help individuals discover how they approach a problem, how the team works together, and discover better methods
§ psychological analysis of team roles, and training in how to work better together
(and combinations of the above)
Team interaction involves "soft" interpersonal skills including communication, negotiation, leadership, and motivation - in contrast to technical skills directly involved with the job at hand. Depending on the type of team building, the novel tasks can encourage or specifically teach interpersonal team skills to increase team performance.
Models of Team Behavior
Team building generally sits within the theory and practice of organizational development. The related field of team management refers to techniques, processes and tools for organizing and coordinating a team towards a common goal - as well as the inhibitors to teamwork and ways to remove, mitigate or overcome them.
Several well-known approaches to team management have come out of academic work.
§ The forming-storming-norming-performing model posits four stages of new team development to reach high performance. Some team activities are designed to speed up (or improve) this process in the safe team development environment.
§ Belbin Team Types can be assessed to gain insight into an individual's natural behavioral tendencies in a team context, and can be used to create and develop better functioning teams.
§ Team Sociomapping social networks approach and improves the team performance by improvement of specific cooperation ties between the people.
In the organizational development context, a team may embark on a process of self-assessment to gauge its effectiveness and improve its performance. To assess itself, a team seeks feedback from group members to find out both its current strengths and weakness.
To improve its current performance, feedback from the team assessment can be used to identify gaps between the desired state and the current state, and to design a gap-closure strategy. Team development can be the greater term containing this assessment and improvement actions, or as a component of organizational development.
Another way is to allow for personality assessment amongst the team members, so that they will have a better understanding of their working style, as well as their fellow team mates.
A structured teambuilding plan is a good tool to implement team bonding and thus, team awareness. These may be introduced by companies that specialize in executing teambuilding sessions, or done internally by the human resource department.
A team-building consultant is responsible for each component of a team building intervention. He will likely interact with the team once, or for a limited number of times. During these first contacts, actively assessing the team, making recommendations, and providing activities (exercises that compose a team building intervention) for the team are the main responsibilities of the consultant. Moreover, usually a written proposal is required after the evaluation process, in which the trainer indicates how he or she would go about improving the team’s performance. Once the organization and consultant determine which recommendations to utilize (if not all), the consultant is then responsible for providing a useful intervention that will transfer back into the organizational setting. This responsibility usually requires the consultant to create a detailed plan of events, while allowing for flexibility. After the intervention has been employed, the consultant will typically evaluate the team-building program and communicate the results to the organization.