People having fun at a team building event

Is team building worth it? There are so many negative cliches about team programs that it’s hard to initiate an activity with a positive attitude from your colleagues. And even though I’m a professional team building facilitator, I get that!

As a member of a community organization, I recently participated in a team building program. Leading up to the event, I found that even I was making wisecracks; wondering what kind of potentially uncomfortable activity I’d be forced to participate in. I was pleasantly surprised to take part in a program that was really fun and brought us all closer together.

When done properly team building is worth it. And there is need.

The Need For Team Building

Every company has their own culture. Whether it’s been intentionally created or not, it’s there. When moods are good and productivity is high, then the metrics tend to follow a positive trajectory. Conversely, when there’s tension between departments; when people feel overworked and under appreciated the numbers often slump along with retention rates.

It’s difficult to prove specific ROI from team building because the benefits are intrinsic to each company’s culture. But here is what we do know about the value of team building:

  • Increased Engagement – When people believe in their work and are treated as valuable parts of a team, they work harder and happier. Team building helps increase this type of engagement through bonding and trust building that comes from genuine shared experience.
  • Improved Communication – Everyone likes to be heard and understood. That’s Human Nature 101. When deadlines are upon us and colleagues are busy vying for upward mobility in the company, good communication often gets neglected. Even worse, we shoot down other people’s ideas. Team programs can improve communication by giving everyone a chance to share ideas and to come to solutions together in a positive, collaborative setting.
  • Strengthened Trust – How can trust not be stronger if the two benefits above are in place? When people feel engaged, heard, and understood, they trust that they’re of value to the company and will be treated as valued members of the organization. This feeling of value and trust leads to higher retention rates and more efficiency. Happy people work better.

When your key stakeholders ask you, “Is team building worth it?” – ask them if increased engagement, communication and trust are worth achieving!

5 Attributes Of Worthwhile Team Building

So hopefully now you’re inspired to do some team building. Nobody wants to throw good money after bad. In short you’ll want to make sure your team building is worth it; worth the time and effort it takes to pull off an event.

After years of experience bringing successful team building to clients all over the world, here’s a guide with 5 ideas to help set you up for success in a team program.

  • Have Fun – Meeting deadlines and keeping customers happy is serious business but team building doesn’t have to be. A group experience is the time to put the day-to-day stress of your work aside. Allow your time together to be truly fun! Shared fun deepens relationships and builds camaraderie. This has intrinsic value that will carry over to your team’s daily work life.
  • Keep it goal oriented – Just because you’re having fun doesn’t mean team building shouldn’t center around company goals. Keep the creativity, inspiration and collaboration from the team building activity focused on the company mission or a major departmental goal. Having a focal point will help the event go more smoothly.
  • Be authentic – Your people are likely a little cynical towards the idea of team building for fear they’ll be asked to do a cheesy activity. You know your people. So choose something that suits your culture and the personalities involved. Team building should help people loosen up, not build walls. And it should never, ever embarrass anyone.
  • Push comfort zones – A little discomfort isn’t the same thing as embarrassment. What challenges you changes you, right? No one I’ve known has ever grown by staying inside their bubble. Get your people thinking differently. Select an event that challenges each person to speak up, get involved and interact.
  • Consider the competition – Gaining buy-in for team building is a easier when a reward is on the line. Competition is a strong motivator, even for (and maybe especially for) adults. Find a team building activity that involves some level of competition. Even my musical program, Team Building Through Song® allows teams to compete for prizes like “Best Performance” or “Best Song”. My point is that you don’t have to be sport oriented and embark on challenging physical activities to incorporate competition and reward.

I completely understand why leaders often skeptically ask, “Is team building worth it?” But consider the higher cost if your team isn’t cohesive, productive, and happy. If you make team programs a regular part of your organization’s activities you’ll see the benefits both in the short term and the long run. Here’s a resource for motivational team building programs to get you started.

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.