In many companies, individuals are often appointed for their technical ability rather than their interpersonal skills. Communication, motivation, negotiation and listening skills can be overlooked as part of the recruitment process. The failure of teams to function successfully can often be attributed to a lack of these softer skills on the part of members of the team, particularly those in management or leadership positions.
In today’s business environment, it can be that employees do not actually meet other members of their team or see them infrequently making it difficult to strike up and maintain success business relationships. Home working, offices located at multiple premises and on-the-road roles can all contribute resulting in isolation for an individual and a lack of feeling like part of a team. This isolation can also make it difficult for individuals to focus on the overall aims of a business rather than their own personal goals and targets.
The purpose of team building is to overcome these obstacles to business success. Team building seeks to draw out the individual strengths of employees and bring them together into a coherent whole so that business objectives can be realised. At a basic level team building is about getting to know and understand co-workers. By building relationships communication improves, the workplace become more enjoyable and motivation is higher. Those participating in team building learn more about their own strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of their co-workers. As a result individual strengths can be utilised in the workplace, leading to increased productivity.
So what exactly is team building? Team building can encompass a wide range of activities designed to develop participants’ ability to work together successfully. There is often the use of games for team building activities. Sometimes children’s games are used, sometimes more complex games, designed with specific tasks in mind. Team building games can take place over a period of time, at one day events or over several consecutive days. There is no one set way in which team building should take place. Exercises should be appropriate to the individual needs of a business.
Team building games generally relate to specific skill sets. Successful teams need to be able to communicate, make decisions, plan effectively and trust each other and it is around these areas that exercises usually focus. Sessions are usually run by trained facilitators to ensure focus and flow to exercises. A team building game can be very simplistic, such as a social activity designed to get employees talking to one another. It may be centred around personal development, for example, physically challenging or adventure activities such as treasure hunts or learning a sport. Group-dynamic games, such as role play can be used to help teams to assess how they approach problems and discover better ways of doing so in the future.
Team building can seem excessive particularly when it comes to small businesses. All businesses, however, whatever their size need to have a shared direction of where they are heading and what needs to be done to achieve this. Team building can actually be exceptionally valuable to smaller businesses as organisations with fewer employees tend to have roles with very specific accountabilities and little overlap. This can lead to a lack of focus on the overall objectives of such organisations, in an environment where there is little margin for error.
So what results should a business expect to see after investing time, money and effort in team building? When using good exercises and games team building has benefits for both the business and the individual. At a fundamental level a successful team building event should lead to employees having a clearer understanding of business goals and direction. This is essential if everyone is to work together towards the same ultimate goal. It should lead to improved planning and better co-ordinated teamwork. Managers should have greater confidence with a clear direction and improved management and communication skills. Individual employees will have a greater understanding of how they fit into the business and how their role interacts with others. Greater motivation and productivity should naturally follow.
Team building games are about enabling employees to successfully work together to achieve the aims of a business. Team building is not a one-off exercise, however, but a continual business need. Businesses are not static and operate in a constantly changing environment. Staff turnover, the economic environment, business relationships and changing customer needs all mean that teams need to be dynamic and able to evolve to meet the many challenges that they will encounter.
Team building is only the beginning of successful organisational development. Team building is about giving teams a sense of purpose, individuals getting to know each other and themselves and recognising how best to utilise their abilities. Moving forwards teams need to continue to develop with skills such as cooperation, support and openness coming to the forefront. To be successful teams need to continually adapt to changing circumstances and business needs.
From start up businesses to mature organisations, a company’s best assets are those that it employs. For a business to be successful all employees should be working towards the same goal. To do this competition between different parts of an organisation needs to be eliminated. Employees need a sense of ownership of their own role and need to understand how it interacts with others, working collaboratively towards defined objectives. It is only by everyone, whatever their role, actively participating in developing a business that it can truly flourish.