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5 Signs You’re Getting Team Building Wrong (and What You Should be Doing Instead)



What does team-building look like in your organisation? 

Team building in organisations is regarded by many businesses as a necessary tool to strengthen the workforce and to make goal-achieving easier. 

However, how some business leaders approach team-building is all wrong. 

Research conducted by Salesforce – a cloud giant who regularly top ‘best place to work’ lists – found that while 75% of employees view teamwork and collaboration as very important, only 18% feel that their employer focuses on this enough. 

Despite some bad press over the years around team ‘bonding’ days featuring assault courses and awkward retreats, the truth is that businesses with tightly formed teams outperform those without. Research conducted by scholars from the Jagannath University, Jaipur, into the effectiveness of team-building exercises found overwhelmingly that such activities are crucial for improving performance. 

So, with this in mind – what is it that businesses do that makes them get team-building exercises wrong, and what could they be doing instead? Here are five of the most common examples. 

1. You Approach Team-Building Half-Heartedly 

When planning team-building exercises, your team need to feel that you are 100% behind the programme, or it will fall flat. It shouldn’t feel transactional – your team must know that you are fully invested in the exercises and that their participation will help not just the business, but themselves personally too. 

Different sized organisations will have different budgets and time constraints which will dictate the level of team-building activities, but another key message is don’t scrimp. Going all-in with the amount of time and resources you spend on team-building activities will give the programme gravitas. It doesn’t have to be expensive away days; if you ask the team to take some time out of their schedule to take part – reward them with a free lunch or delivery that you know they will enjoy. 

Of course, appearing to ‘buy’ your team’s attention is not a good look – incentives should not be used as a ‘reward’ for taking an active part in team-building activities, but activities do require resources. 

It is these expenses that can sometimes be a real barrier to leaders implementing effective team-building; it is seen as ‘expensive’. Let’s take a look at what expense means in terms of team-building. 

2. You View Team-Building Expenses as ‘Unnecessary’  

If you approach team-building with the view that it’s an unnecessary expense – you will fail to yield effective results. 

Spending money on team-building is not a cost – it’s an investment.  

But be careful. A lot of money is wasted each year on ‘team-building’ activities which do not provide any real worth to your organisation. Since away-days gained popularity, there has been a misunderstanding that any activity which involves the whole team and costs hundreds of pounds is productive team-building. Fun does not always equal team-building, and bonding activities do not need to be expensive – I will share some more appropriate up-to-date methods below.  

3. Ignoring the Individual 

Yes, team building is a way to get individuals to work better together, but you must also consider the needs of the individuals in your team. 

Team-building comes from viewing your colleagues as real people – from recognising each other’s individual needs. 

In your team-building strategy, make sure that you incorporate the needs of each of your team members; this means involving them in planning and executing team-building tasks. Additionally, the process will be much more effective if the outcome aims to get your team to recognise each other’s individualities.  


4. Using Outdated Methods 

As I mentioned earlier, team-building activities are often associated with ‘trust falls’ and uncomfortable sharing sessions. However, team-building has changed over the years, and embarrassing your team with juvenile tasks is not the way to go.  

Team building now is successful when it is based around the individual’s goals, and how learning as a team can strengthen the entire business. Group training sessions on topics of the employee’s choosing is a great way to instil team bonding – teams who learn together work better together as it increases respect and camaraderie. 


5. Failing to Incorporate These Strategies 

I’ve mentioned a lot of what to avoid. Now let me share some team-building strategies that work: 

  • Approach team-building as a collaborative affair. Speak to employees about what they feel would be useful to them, and any ideas they can bring to the table. 

  • Ensure that any team-building activities you plan are inclusive to every employee; consider times, places, workloads and accessibility. Nothing destroys team spirit like feeling left out of a supposedly ‘entire team’ activity. 

  • Focus on learning. Leading a training session about something the whole team can benefit from is a great, cost-effective way to bring your team closer together. Or if no single subject applies to the whole team, allow them to choose from various options and run smaller group learning sessions instead. These could be on self-development, being more confident in the workplace, on how to give presentations… ask your team what they would be interested in learning. 

  • If you have the budget for a corporate event, choose an activity that no-one has done before. This way, everyone will be experiencing it from the same starting point – this is a great way to strengthen bonds.  

If your team-building has failed to produce the results you want – is it time to change the way you approach it? 

For further reading, the CIPD has a downloadable PDF which has additional ideas which you can find here. 

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Intrigued? Let’s talk

To find out how our tried, tested and trusted insight and innovation can deliver you the brightest sales and marketingtalent call
01905 381320 or email

I am highly recommending any candidates to work with Martin Veasey Talent Solutions, as they understand the candidate career objectives and match the skills required with the desired employer.