Most ineffective team building activities are the result of ineffective planning, limited oversight, and no outcome thinking.
THEY FOCUS ON COMPETING WITH EACH OTHER
If your purpose for team building is to build cooperation and cohesiveness as a team, choosing team building exercises that pit team members against each other is a recipe for failure.
Activities that result in one team winning at the expense of the other team fail to encourage team building. Studies have shown that cooperative learning (as opposed to competitive learning) is more effective. While there is nothing wrong with competition, team building activities are the wrong place to use it.
THEY FOCUS ON ACTIVITY RATHER THAN OUTCOMES
Use your team building exercise as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for how you want your workplace to look. Align your goals with the activity to ensure that the outcome is successful.
Looking for more collaboration in your office? An event that destroys the competition in effigy can not only lead to disaster, but fails to accomplish anything towards your goal. Begin with the end in mind, and build your team building activity accordingly.
THEY FAIL TO CONSIDER THE EMPLOYEES
Many times, managers plan activities that sound fun, but are completely unsuitable for their staff. If your team is made up of members with mobility concerns, a ropes course may not be the best activity. Stretching your staff to try new activities is one thing. Forcing them to do something dangerous, inappropriate or beyond their ability is another.
THEY FAIL TO INCLUDE EMPLOYEES WHILE PLANNING
The biggest fails in team building happen as a result of failing to get team buy in. Even if your planned activity goes off without a hitch, it can still be a fail for team building purposes. When you fail to involve your team in the planning stages of your activity, they are less likely to be motivated to participate. In addition, by asking your team’s input into the areas they are struggling, you are more likely to plan an activity that has merit.
THEY FAIL TO GET OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE
Some of the most egregious team building fails are the result of a lack of oversight. Once you’ve developed a plan for your team building event, seek outside review from your supervisor, a coworker or other trusted resource.
Ready to nix your next team building event? Don’t! Team building exercises can be effective and meaningful when done correctly, and can have long lasting, positive benefits for your company.