Do Team Building Activities Deserve The Praise They Get?

For project managers, a harmonious team is one of the most important contributors to successful project completion. In developing a team that can gel and thrive together, a popular method that has been implemented by businesses is the use of team building activities. But do they deserve the praise that they receive?

The concept of team building in the workplace was raised in the famous Hawthorne Studies that occurred during the late 1920s and early 1930s. One of the most compelling findings from this study was that it was revealed with increased worker interaction, a group of workers feel a greater sense of group identity and support. In turn from this study that took place nearly one hundred years ago, the phrase “team building ” came to be known as an ongoing process used to help a group of workers become a cohesive unit. Members within this team feel they have common goals and support each other in achieving objectives together. As well as this they have respect for each other’s individual differences, strengths and particular skillsets.

All this therefore provides a convincing argument for businesses to continually develop a working environment of team work in the office and ultimately have a group that are all working towards achieving the business aims of the company. One of the main methods to achieve this in recent years has been the use of team building activities, also commonly known as company away days. Businesses investing in team building days outs will typically carry them out once to three times a year.

The activities chosen can be wide and varying from a traditional treasure hunt to something more extreme such as paintballing. It is from this wide choice of activities available however that questions are raised about the true effectiveness of team building activities and whether they actually work. Therefore, it is important to carefully select an activity that serves a purpose and functionality that can be taken back to the work environment and have it be seen and treated as a casual recreational company day out. This would mean the participants will be more engaged in the activity and be more motivated to take part, particularly if there is any resistance in them losing a working day in the first place meaning they may fall behind in work.

The activities that often work well are those that aim to achieve a clear goal together as a team. Tasks should be clearly defined that they require each individual to play their part and as a unit coming together they will be able to achieve what has been set for them, just as what it would be in the workplace with a project team working towards a deadline or target effectively.

Another area of note is to consider those that have a more reserved personality and ensure they are not forced out of their comfort zone and made to feel uncomfortable because this will have the opposite effect for what the team building activity was set out to achieve. Often activities that make participants uncomfortable are those that are overly competitive as these can potentially cause conflict to arise. Again, this is detrimental to the aim of enhancing the team’s ability to work together and as a worse case scenario effect the team dynamic and trust going back in the office.

Therefore, what is important to consider when introducing team building activities into your company is that they should be carefully thought through and clearly defined as a genuine task with a purpose to heighten everyone’s ability to work together better.

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Rebecca D`Souza

Rebecca D'Souza is a freelance writer.