If you’ve ever been to a team-building event, you know that you are often required to play games and accomplish obstacles with your teammates. At the time — and even now — you might have wondered how building a house out of spaghetti noodles or playing capture the flag helped you become a team.
What is Team Building?
The reason team building seminars require you to play games and do other seemingly strange activities is that the organizers know that teams are not born, they are made.
Simply putting a few people in a group does not a team make. All you have to do to realize that is to think back to high school — when the teacher decided to mix things up by putting a few unlikely students together, simply calling them a team did not make them work any better together.
Team building is what is required to make a group of people working together successful and to turn a group into a Team.
To function as a team, members need to understand each other, to know their strengths and weaknesses, and to understand how divide tasks among them so that those tasks can be completed successfully and efficiently. They need to do this because in the real world, this team — whether it’s a sports team, a family, or a task force in an office — will have to work together to achieve a goal and/or solve a problem. Doing this requires trust and comfort with each other. And this is where the houses out of pasta and games of capture the flag come in.
Team building exercises like these give newly formed teams the chance to learn about each other and to practice solving problems and achieving goals before they must do it for real.
What are Examples of Team Building in the Real World?
There are many examples in the real world of individuals being thrown together and being told that they must function as a team. Not everyone has the luxury of team building exercises — although those these include some of the most common examples of team building in the real world. Here are some other examples of team building:
- Faced with a crisis, a boss creates five emergency teams to handle different tasks that will solve the crisis. These teams are required to act quickly, so have little time to get to know one another. Before beginning to work on their assignment, they go around in a circle and introduce themselves and discuss their strengths and weaknesses. Before completing the work they’ve been assigned, they practice a dry run.
- The coach of a soccer team suspends traditional practice for the day and has his players complete a ropes course together to learn to trust one another
- A family who has been having a difficult time getting along dedicates a weekend to camping and survival training to learn how to work together.
How Can I Develop My Team Building Skills?
Whether you are the manager of an organization or a stay-at-home-mom, at some point, you will be asked to either create or be part of a team. The following are just a few ways you can develop your team building skills so that you will be a beneficial part of any team, whether or not you have created that team:
- Start by looking for the strengths in others. Give them compliments. Tell them what they are good at. An important part of team building is being able to recognize others’ strengths as well as your own so that everyone can be given a productive place in the team.
- Begin to delegate work. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you must be the one to accomplish everything that needs accomplished. Carefully base your delegations on others’ strengths and weaknesses, and ensure you discuss your expectations with them before letting the project go.
- Open communication, trust, common values, and respect for others and diversity help to make a good team, so work to establish these in your team by dedicating time for your team to participate in team building exercises and providing spaces where they can interact with each other.