Are There Any Benefits to Team Building Activities?

Jul 5, 2017

Team building is popular and well liked, but depending on other expectations, the outcomes have not been sustainable. Many indications are that any benefits gained are limited if the work environment and conditions haven’t changed.

Some team building encourages working together and thinking critically to problem solve and find solutions. These are new approaches and so it is not clear what the long-term value will be. However, these skills are often desired and would be beneficial if cultivated when returning to the daily grind of the work environment.

So how do you cultivate this work environment – one where energetic employees work together, are challenged to critically think, share ideas and disagreements, and find solutions to benefit the business and the team – and oh yeh, an environment that demands high standards, is results-driven and yet is fun and an enjoyable place to work? It comes down to leadership qualities – mainly the leadership qualities of front line supervisors and managers.

A recent HBR blog by Jack Zenger summarized the qualities to drive results and engage employees – and extracurricular team building activities aren’t one of these. We also added a few characteristics important to create such an environment. Leaders who,

  • Possess people skills
  • Have high emotional intelligence
  • Value all input including differing ways of thinking
  • Communicate clearly
  • Drive results
  • Inspire and motivate
  • Have high integrity and inspires trust
  • Are coachable and coach others

Team building activities are appropriate if you want a change from the daily grind or something fun and different, but not if you want a more cohesive, collaborative and engaged team. These three characteristics result from having a psychologically safe work environment, autonomy, meaningful work, rewarding cohesiveness, collaboration, and positive working relationships – all of which require the above leader qualities.

What Team building activities have been tried at your facility? What worked well and gave sustainable outcomes; what were lessons learned?