Why Your Team-Building Events Aren’t Working

people doing a puzzle

At the core of every successful enterprise is a strong sense of teamwork. Tight-knit teams help boost a business’ productivity and spark innovation at rates no individual could possibly achieve. However, it takes a lot of work to cultivate this durable cooperation. 

Bonds are often formed naturally over time as people work with one another and share experiences, but these factors only account for part of the picture. Leaders must also take an active role in establishing solid teams. To do so, they might organize and initiate team building events. These exercises can strengthen teams and yield several additional benefits, but they don’t simply work by default. If your team building events aren’t producing the results you expected, here are some possible causes.

Common Mistakes in Team-Building Events

A Lack of Leadership

Team building events are all about collaboration, so no one person’s participation should outweigh that of another. That said, without a leader or group of leaders guiding the activity, you might find it difficult to get these events off the ground at all. Team leaders play an important role in both coordinating team building exercises and keeping them on track. A good leader will clearly outline the task at hand and offer a demonstration as a jumping-off point. They will then back off when it’s time for team members to interact with one another and jump back in if things hit a snag or go too far off course.

Forced Engagement

Generally speaking, people are more likely to partake in an activity if they feel empowered to do so. Team building events are only effective when members participate willingly and with enthusiasm. When engagement is forced, participants may close up and feel insecure or irritated, which negatively tinges the exercise. Of course, team management leaders may struggle to cultivate this enthusiasm. While not every team member will always be on board, there are ways to reduce this friction and encourage greater participation. Leaders might organically weave team building events into the workday so employees don’t feel forced to act a certain way or abandon their duties. Additionally, all team members should feel that their input adds value to the organization so they’re more willing to speak out and engage.

The Message is Unclear

Team building events won’t amount to anything if those involved don’t know what’s at stake. For every exercise, there needs to be a clear “why” to the “what.” When formulating ideas of team activities, leaders must ask themselves questions like: Why should team members care? What goal (or goals) is the team and organization working toward? How will this particular exercise bring the team together and move everyone closer to the goal? How can the company’s team culture be improved as a whole, and how will that positively affect the organization? Having answers to these questions will help leaders create these events as well as give team members a reason to truly care about them.

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Timing is All Off

Whether they’re during the workday or after hours, team building events can interfere with regular productivity and team members’ personal lives. If you’re not mindful of everyone’s time, your events might foster resentment and induce undue stress. Conversely, coordinating team building events to fit everyone’s unique schedules and needs goes a long way toward building a positive team culture. Take the time to properly schedule these activities so the maximum amount of people can participate with minimal conflict.

Neglecting Feedback

Accepting and delivering constructive criticism are major parts of both team building and leadership training. Without this communication, you can’t fully know if your team building events are going well. Actively welcome feedback before, during, and after these exercises, so you can adjust and improve them accordingly. Otherwise, these activities will just waste everyone’s time and make for a more toxic work environment.

A team building exercise should never be by the numbers. These events must be relevant to the current work at hand and re-establish a shared purpose. This requires leadership, engagement, tact, and communication. With more effort in these areas, your team building events won’t just work, they’ll seriously pay off.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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