The Ultimate Guide To Team Building

“Teamwork makes the dream work” – but can you relate?

 

If you’re a leader or manager of a team and you’re thinking the answer is no, then it sounds like you need to start putting some work into your team building strategy. 

 

You’ve come to the right place. In this ultimate guide we’ve explored what team building is really all about, examples of team building activities/games, resources for further information and more. So, grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable.

 

Let’s start by looking at what team building really means…

Why team building is important

Alongside the pleasure of being a manager, also comes the responsibility to consistently keep your team in check. As management, you’re very aware of the value of a well structured and friendly team – and sometimes, this doesn’t come naturally.

Team building is a crucial process for any organization, especially those who are struggling to build the workplace culture they’ve always wanted. 

Your company is like a puzzle. If there’s one piece that won’t fit, or it’s just missing altogether, it’s incomplete. In your eyes, it’s a fragmented ecosystem. So, team games and activities are the key to finding out what that missing piece is and getting a solution.  

These events are designed to build solid foundations of trust, squash conflicts, inspire collaboration and improve communication. This is why it is so important. When effective, morale will be boosted and you’ll see an improvement in both the character and productivity of your team. 

It’s time to invest in the process!

What’s The History Behind Team Building?

The Hawthorne studies show us that the concept of team building can be dated back to the late 1920s and early 1930s. So, it’s not exactly an ancient practice…

The ultimate purpose of these studies was to better understand how various elements of the workplace environment had an impact on employee productivity, and it’s findings are still completely relevant to this day. 

Whilst initially they were simply testing how lighting levels in the workplace affected worker productivity, their findings appeared to be as a result of other factors. 

The boost in their morale was not because of lighting, but because of the attention and interest they were receiving whilst the study was being conducted. It had a motivational effect on them – something which was then coined as the ‘Hawthorne effect’…

a type of reactivity in which individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.

In addition, they discovered that one of the most significant factors of a team’s productivity was a development in group identity and social support. We refer to this now as a ‘workplace culture’.

So, how can we translate the results of the Hawthorne studies in the modern day working society, and how has it got us to team building and work culture today?

Team Building Games/Activities Inspo

Obviously since the 1920s/30s team building has evolved and advanced into something much greater. Nowadays companies are always trying to find new, quirky and innovative ways to bring their teams together.

One thing that was taken away from the Hawthorne studies was the fact that whilst the workers were being observed, they actually felt no pressure to have to change who they were. Essentially, that’s the beauty of all the team building games, activities and days out that exist today – because they’re fun and a way for employees to let loose, they don’t feel that pressure.

Put some pizzazz into your team building days. Let’s look at some inspiration for different areas of concern…

Activities/Games for Team Bonding and Communication
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Two truths and a lie
  • Circle of appreciation
  • Blind retriever
  • Office trivia quiz
Activities/Games for Problem Solving
  • Egg drop
  • Business simulations
  • Escape room
  • Office debate
  • Spaghetti tower building

Pros and Cons of Team Building

The Pros and Cons of Team Building 

Every topic has highs and lows to it, so let’s outline a few of those pluses and minuses here…

Pros:
  • Opportunity to show a willingness to share ideas
  • Reduces stress levels related to work
  • Uniting the team towards a common goal
  • Helps resolve any existing conflict within the team
Cons:
  • Costs – not only costs of the actual day, but cost to the company for taking time away from work
  • Time restrictions – if you’re a fast-paced, busy corporation, how do you find the time to bring everyone together?
  • Not a ‘one size fits all’ – some activities might not end up being beneficial
  • Can be difficult to measure the impacts

It’s down to your judgement to weigh up these pros and cons, and decide whether it is the right move for your team.

What Factors Impact Building A Team & Work Culture?

 

Leadership

Those that are in leadership positions are really the ones that are setting the tone in the workplace, from the moment employees step through the door. 

This is largely related to the way in which they communicate with the team – whether it’s how they reward them, how they discipline them, how they delegate work, or just how they treat them personally. 

The main focus is instilling belief, trust and understanding in the methods of those in charge. If there isn’t that mutual respect, it’s going to be a struggle to form a great team.

Returning back to the Hawthorne studies, there were 2 very relevant findings that we can apply to this. The results showed that the following factors played significant roles in boosting the productivity of workers:

  • Management showing a personal interest in each person’s achievement – this suggests that whilst they’re working successfully as a team, individual encouragement and affirmation will help keep them motivated to achieve group missions.
  • Management took pride in their results – employees are looking to their management for gratification over what they’ve achieved – nobody should be dependent on this, but it definitely helps. Show that you’re proud of what they’ve achieved as a collective.

So, if you’re putting these things into practice as a leader, you’re doing a great job. Keep it up. If you think you might be lacking in this area, start considering finding opportunities to show your team some love and appreciation! 

Get them feeling accomplished, and motivated to do more.

Staffing

Your employees. They are at the heart of your workplace culture. It’s so important for them to create and maintain strong relationships with each other, and so it’s even more important that you hire people that you know will integrate with this culture.  

We go into deeper detail on this topic in our blog: How To Recruit For Your Work Culture. Check it out to find out the best tips to getting the right members for your team.

Human Resources

Internal factors, such as your HR department, are central to the performance of your business and it’s employees.

A skilled team of HR professionals value the fair treatment of workers, and they are the point of call for all team members. HR is where a multitude of issues are addressed, on both sides of the hierarchy, including issues amongst team members and fractured relationships. So it’s important that employees have conviction in the abilities of Human Resources.

Policies

Official written policies and procedures that your employees are working under, and restricted to, may be affecting the way that they are working. 

If people have concerns with the rules they’re being made to adhere to, make sure they’re addressed. Most importantly, make sure they feel confident enough to vocalise any disagreements in the first place.

Environment

The environment in which your team is working has a big impact on the workplace culture. Whether it’s in-house, remote working or flexible working, it’s important that employees are made to feel as comfortable as possible, and their needs are met. 

Further to this, your environment should be a reflection of your company values and work culture. Consider what you can start to introduce to your environment to achieve this.

Missions

Your company’s missions and visions also play a large part in forming your workplace culture and building a team. 

Afterall, it is something that your team is collectively working together to achieve, and so therefore determines the way in which people collaborate, interact and communicate to get there. That’s why team building activities are perfect for this, because they allow the team to practice uniting towards a common goal. 

Analyzing Impacts of Team Building

As aforementioned, one of the downsides to team building is the difficulty that comes with analysing the impacts of it.

Has it achieved what you wanted? How can you determine the effectiveness? How do you even measure a team atmosphere or work culture?

We suggest that the best way to understand this is setting specific goals for your team and seeing if these are achieved. In addition to this, in the days or weeks following team building activities, begin to observe the team more closely and see if you can notice any differences and improvements. 

Further to these observations, if something hasn’t clicked then perhaps look into an alternative approach. However, we feel it’s very likely that team building interventions will have nothing but positive effects on your team members.

Resources for Team Building/Work Culture

We’ve compiled a list of resources that we believe could be great help to you people in senior positions that need that extra push in the right direction. You might have all the intention and right ideas for team building, but don’t exactly know where to start for yourself.

So, read on for some potential venues, books and thought leaders that you can look to for extra inspiration and guidance.

Venues/organisations that specialise in holding team days

Function Fixers

The Teambuilding Company

GoTo Events – check out a range of locations

Books

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People

Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team by John C. Maxwell

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy by Jon Gordon

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

Thought Leaders/Blog Sites

Afterburnerthis blog is run by a former member of the US Air Force, so he knows a thing or 2 about cultural discipline and alignment – but he applies his knowledge to the corporate world, so people like you can better understand how to lead a team.

The Source Consulting Group Blog – another excellent blog for high level insight into team building – and bonus, they also offer their own guides for various activities and exercises 

WorkshopBank“Great for searching for free team building activities based on length, group size, and topic”

To conclude…

We hope we’ve bettered your knowledge on team building and its importance, but please check out the resources we’ve listed above for even more information and guidance on the topic.

In the meantime, please feel free to check out what we do here at Vertex and ask us how we contribute to work culture and building a team.