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Pros and Cons of Team Building

Mention team building in any workplace situation and you'll be met with two very different reactions. The first will be eyes rolled up to the heavens, as many employees dread team building activities as much as they would going to the dentist. Then there are those who love the idea.

Mention team building in any workplace situation and you'll be met with two very different reactions. The first will be eyes rolled up to the heavens, as many employees dread team building activities as much as they would going to the dentist. Then there are those who love the idea. This is probably not for the reason you're thinking they should. Rather because it means a day away from the office. One of the problems with team building is, more often than not, it's simply done wrong. The focus is on all the wrong things. As a result, there is absolutely no proper team cohesion at the end of the exercise. Thus making the whole thing a pointless waste of time, effort and money. But if, on the other hand, you can do it well, then you'll really see some fantastic results. It’ll bring people together and, as a direct result, show huge improvements in job satisfaction and productivity. 

So without further ado, let's have a look at some of the pros and cons of team building before you actually consider holding your next team building event.

What Are the Pros of Team Building?

It Increases Understanding.

Everybody has their own individual way of looking at the world. This can be the result of education, pre held opinions, and experiences. Unfortunately all these different outlooks tend to hold up any meaningful form of communication within a group. One person is speaking tomatoes and the other is speaking potatoes. What team building does is that it can help individuals learn to communicate with each other, so that they can have a greater understanding and empathy towards each other's experiences. Eventually this will lead to the team having one cohesive voice. For business, this means that the employees understand each other, and thanks to clear communication, instead of pulling in different directions, will all pull together for the good of the business.

It Reduces Stress Levels.

Let's face it, most working situations are pretty stressful. Not only is it the work itself, with deadlines and constant changes, but also there the politics of the workplace to take into consideration. On the whole, these factors mean that people are unable to be themselves. They always have to have one eye looking over their shoulder and watching their own backs. This is not conducive to either a happy workplace or a productive one either. That's why when you choose a team building, please ensure it's something with a large element of fun. It will help people relax and reduce their levels of stress. It'll take time away from the office and the office responsibilities. In other words, you have it in your hands the possibility to make others happy.

It Improves Productivity.

Following on from the above, it's true that happy people make happy teams and are altogether more productive. As the working day flies by, team members are able to work together and complete tasks without having to deal with individual problems. Because team building has helped the team adapt to one another, there's an innate understanding between members which can only increase productivity and satisfaction. 

It Creates Unity Toward An Overall Mission or Vision.

One of  the main reasons why many team building exercises fail is because they are not working towards a common goal. Within the company there will be a mission statement and a long-term vision. But much of this can be lost in the day today drudge when working in the trenches. A well thought-out team building exercise will open people's eyes, and give them an impetus to rise up and become more motivated, simply because they can see the road in front of them more clearly. Maybe for the first time in a long while. Team building should offer a new perspective to them. It’s also a means of letting everyone know that they are, in their own individual way, important and essential to the business’s well-being. In other words, that they matter.

It creates New Friendships or Alliances.

Many offices suffer from very poor middle management. Remember that middle managers are not necessarily promoted for their people skills. First and foremost they're interested in securing their own position. As a result, there can be all sorts of negativity floating around. Team building should be designed around creating more positive energy. This will allow people to bond and, once they join forces, they are able to solve problems much more easily. We suggest that before you do any team building, you look long and hard at the hierarchical structure of employees in your workplace. You’ll often find there's a blockage in communication and respect, thanks to terrible and self-serving middle management. 

It Helps Develop Team Roles.

These days, you don't want to be employing people with a one-size-fits-all idea of how roles should be filled. Some people are more creative. Others are better at logical thinking. It's in the best interest of the business to put the right person in the right role. An insight for team building will play to the employees strengths and will allow employers to see the real skill sets that people have, as opposed to the titles of their jobs. To create real satisfaction in the workplace, people need to be doing what they enjoy. If you can place people in the correct roles, then not only will they be more comfortable in their job situation, but also have a willingness to work much harder. It’s all about job satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

What Are the Cons of Team Building?

Results Are Not Sticky

As they say, a leopard cannot change it's spots. And so it is with people's behaviour. A team building event may achieve some positive results, but unfortunately many people will go back to their own comfort zones. This is not necessarily conducive to making better practices within your organisation. Research has shown that people return to their original behaviour after a team building exercise within 60 days or less. In practice this means that you need to include team building exercises as a regular part of the working life. 

It Can Be Costly

One aspect of team building that's often overlooked is not just the cost of the team building exercise itself, but the fact that all your employees will be away from the workplace and not be productive. So, not only is there the cost of the event itself, but also the pay your employees are taking whilst not working. We have seen some employers try and get around this by mandating team building during their employees free time, for example at the weekend. This is a terrible policy, as you are encroaching into people's personal time and will only lead to resentment. If you're going to go down the path of team-building then you need to suck up the cost and recognise that it’s a work event that needs to be paid.

People Need Time to Get Comfortable 

There's no such thing as a quick team building. This is because part and  part of the whole process is that the participants need to spend time getting to know both the team building exercises, and each other, on a more personal level. The extrovert will have no problem in dealing with others. But keep in mind that at the other end of the scale there are those who are introverts and will generally shy away from any type of team event. To accommodate everyone and allow them to truly relax, and no matter what team building you’re organising, it will need to last at least a day.

Some People Just Can’t Work Well Together.

Don't expect that by doing a team building exercise everything will be hunkydory in the workplace afterwards. Many work situations suffer simply because people have absolutely different and opposite personalities. We are a diverse group after all, and it doesn't necessarily follow that everybody is able to gel with everybody else. Be wary if you have a team building exercise that is designed to change people's behaviour and bring some sort of camaraderie into the workplace. This can end up blowing up as people feel resentment with having to pair up with someone they cannot stand to be in the same room together.

The fact that team building has been with us now for over 20 years means that there is probably some value within the exercises. You can go online to find a huge amount of information which is essentially selling the idea that a team building exercise is the panacea for all business ills, whether from lack of sales, bad marketing, stress, and lack of respect. But many of these are problems that are inherent within the business itself. There's a Hungarian saying which is that “the fish rots from the head down.” So don't go unnecessarily looking for a team building exercise to take the place of management being unable to manage. It’s a sad part of human nature, that those above will blame those below as a means of deflecting responsibility.


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