What is Team Building? A Critical Look at Corporate Team Activities

What is team building? Simply put, it is a group of activities, games or exercises that help team members learn how to work better together and help increase their motivation.

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If you’ve ever watched your colleagues dress up in fuchsia wigs to do trust falls you’ve probably questioned the purpose of the whole exercise.

The term ‘team building activities’ has gained a bit of bad reputation over the past few years, and it’s no wonder why. There are activities that are so ridiculously unrelated to any kind of skill or process. While there are some that are so condescending that team members come out more disengaged than before.

But there is a purpose to team building exercises. It’s no coincidence that the biggest, most productive companies around the world participate in regular corporate team building events. Effective team building requires constant assessment and evolution to produce positive results.

Defining team building with a purpose

The purpose of t eam building is to optimise the processes of a team. The areas that can be improved and developed are communication, trust, delegation, leadership and more. It is necessary to take team members out of their workplace environment often to keep them motivated, as well as showing that as a leader, you care about their well-being. Maintaining a strong work ethic can sometimes be a struggle. But bringing your team together and providing them a fun environment to socialise and bond with each other can enable them to gain transferable skills and relationships back into the office.

Do the exercises actually work?

A study performed by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory tracked teams in a call centre—an industry where work is easy to identify, tasks are easy to monitor and every aspect of team performance is easy to measure. A device they wore around their necks collected data about their body language, who they spoke to, tone of voice and more.

While the content of their conversations was not recorded, it became apparent that the content of communication was relatively easy to deduce when set against the other elements.

The study revealed that communication played a critical role in building successful teams. Patterns of communication were key elements and were found to be an important predictor in a team’s success. They’re as important as other factors, such as individual intelligent, personality, skills and substance of discussions, combined.

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Using the data gathered, one of the low performing teams in the study made small adjustments to their schedule. They changed the coffee break from a staggered individual affair to a shared coffee break. By making this one change, the call centre increased their productivity by $15mil and had an employee satisfaction increase of 10%.

While these results may seem too good to be true, the theme of effective out-of-work communication resulting in high productivity is consistent across the study. The study highlights the importance of building rapport between colleagues in a non-stressful environment. Even without training or external influences, companies can find themselves earning more with happier employees.

Different kinds of team building activities

Every team, every work environment, and every leader is different. Whether you want to simply treat your dedicated employees to a fun day, or you want them to develop a certain skill. There are activities that will suit your team. It will always depend on what they need.

If your goal is to encourage teamwork and see your colleagues inspire one another, then activities that will be seen as a challenge for a team will be perfect. Problem solving activities will be the first choice. However, if you want to also add in a mix of physical and non-physical activities, you may opt for Amazing race type of activities or Scavenger Hunts or Survivor.

In contrast, if you want guaranteed laughs and to see a new, creative side to yourself and your team, go for either Creative activities or Game shows and Trivia. These would include painting, music, film making, game shows, murder mysteries and more. A lot of the activities available will have a professional that will work alongside the teams for guidance.

Touching into Corporate responsibility, there are many charitable activities which you and your team can take part in, all for a great cause at the same time. From building bikes for children, to creating an impact your local community with a cook-off.

From relaxing workshops to amazing races, there’s a wide variety of activities available throughout Australia that will help you rediscover the benefits of corporate team building.

 

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