What is the long term value of team building? To answer this question, we first have to understand what truly constitutes a ‘team building’ activity. Countless articles and blogs have made mention of the difference between ‘team bonding’ and ‘team building’ activities, and have concluded that ‘team bonding’ and ‘team building’ are two ends of a continuum, where the range of activity options available fall into the gap between.
The problem we have is that any company that offers a ‘team bonding’ session will call it a ‘team building’ activity, instead of just calling it what it is.
It is essential to note that both ends of the spectrum have their merits. However both also have completely different outcomes associated with them. The client must ultimately select the correct type of activity depending on their required outcomes. For example, there is no point taking a team paintballing if there are issues within the team that need some type of intervention to help them overcome the problems. Any competitive fun events will only have two possible outcomes in this scenario – either the rifts deepen or a band aid is placed over a much bigger wound. Both fail to achieve desired outcome that you really want, which is to close the divide.
Going back to the original question, the value of ‘team building’ is far more considerable than a ‘team bonding’ activity. Ultimately, if a company is saying that it is simply something ‘they have to do’, there will not be much that can be done as culturally they are not buying into the benefits of developing their teams and this will be reflected in their work place. Some of these companies see their annual ‘team building’ session as a way of ticking a box to show they care about their employees.
It is refreshing when HR departments have a real ‘people focus.’ They understand that developing their people helps develop their business. So how do we change the situation? People have to realise that ‘team bonding’ is a separate entity distinct from ‘team building.’ Until that happens, we are pretty much stuck with everything being lumped under the one umbrella.
To conclude: can you spot the difference between the types of activities below?