‘Team building’ activities are an overused go-to solution, for many managers whose teams aren’t working well. 

Promises such as “the transferrable skills learnt in team building activities can transform any group into a high-performing team…” can be alluring.

Whether it’s an activity added to a team meeting or an entire day out of the business, can it really make a difference?

Firstly, we need to think about the why – the skills or behaviours managers want their teams to transfer into the workplace.

If it’s to create a strong bond between the team, you could be onto a winner! The right activities will forge stronger relationships and bring people closer together.

If it’s to enhance collaboration, effectively problem-solve or improve communication within the team the likelihood is these skills will be showcased on the day, but will they then be transferred into everyday work? Maybe not.

Team building can be a functional solution to creating a high-performing team when it isn’t seen as a one-off when it’s part of the culture of the team and the business.

Managers can consistently use team building to unite and encourage a high-performing team through:

  • Connection – working towards common goals.
  • Conversation – consistent and meaningful dialogue.
  • Community – clarifying roles.

Teams will naturally evolve over time and Tuckman’s model – forming, storming, norming, performing – follows the path a team will take on their way to achieving high performance. 

This path isn’t just followed once, evolving teams will return to stages and work their way through again when changes occur.

Successful managers support their teams as they move through these stages with meaningful conversations (team and individual), clear goals and purposeful feedback.

Psychologically safe workplaces will support teams effectively through this journey.

Team members who feel safe, able to be their true self, confident to speak up without judgement and confident they are in a supportive community, will work cohesively together, forging a stronger team.

So, is team building a functional solution to producing a high-performing team?

Absolutely, when it’s part of the team culture, not just a single day swinging from trees (we’ve all been there!). 

Amber Orchard-Webb

Amber Orchard-Webb

Learning Specialist and e-Learning Developer at The Motivation Agency

Inspired by an early career as Skills and Development Advisor for Costa Coffee, I moved agency side to the role of Learning Specialist. I bring positivity, passion and a fresh perspective, to deliver the very best learning solutions to our clients.