Have you ever heard the expression, “I hate team building”?

Throughout my 20 year career in the team building world, I have heard this expression numerous times (of course, this is before they work with my organization). More often than not, team building participants love their experience as team building is a lot of fun and helps develop necessary skills such as; trust, communication, team bonding, and breaking down silos… But, even when a very small percentage of people make this statement, it concerns me as an owner of a national team building firm. So, I decided to probe a little bit further.

Over the past few years when people made comments to me like “I hate team building” or “not another team building program,” I asked them to elaborate on their comment. What I found interesting during this informal study was that everyone answered my question in a similar fashion, and it went something like this:

“My company has us do wacky team building programs. At first they were fun, but now I just don’t have the patience for more of these touchy feely games. Enough is enough. We don’t learn anything and it just wastes everyone’s time.”

Typically, the individuals that respond like this are from companies that imposed team building activities on their employees without really determining the needs of their people.

If you want your staff to have a positive team building experience that helps them improve their group dynamics, I would suggest the following:

1. Assess the needs of your team – Without conducting a needs assessment (such a our Team Effectiveness Inventory), how do you know the real issues that need to be addressed during the team building program?
2. Combine developmental programs with fun team events – For example, one month do a program such as Why We Click With Some And Clank With Others (which is a developmental session on adapting your communication style to create a more powerful relationship with those on your team) and a few months later do a program like GeoQuest (a fun team bonding treasure hunt using hand held GPS units).
3. Don’t overdo team building – If you are implementing more than six team building events during a year, it will dilute the effectiveness of each program.

These are just a few suggestions. To learn more, I would recommend reading Team Building? 12 Questions to Help you Make the Right Decision by Merrick Rosenberg, Chief Learning Officer and President of Team Builders Plus.