Teamwork is an important part of any organisation. It leads to higher productivity, more effective communication and a better climate and culture. Many organisations are trying to foster team building, and one way they are doing it is through dedicated team-building activities.

However, a recent study by Vodafone UK and YouGov found that employees are getting tired of these sorts of exercises. Over half the people interviewed thought that doing more team building activities wouldn’t help them work better with their co-workers, and many said it was a waste of time and money.

This doesn’t mean that team-building activities are inherently ineffective. “Many genuine team-building activities can be valuable,” said Vodafone UK Director Peter Kelly, “but ultimately, to achieve better teamwork businesses need to get the basics right first.”

This is the key to effective team building–  it’s a great way to build trust, ease conflict and increase communication within your organisation, but only when it is done correctly and when your organisation is ready for it.

This is the key to effective team building–  it’s a great way to build trust, ease conflict and increase communication within your organisation, but only when it is done correctly and when your organisation is ready for it.

So how do you hold an effective team building activity? Here are five things to consider:

Assess your team’s needs

First, you need to be sure that your teams are ready. Holding a team building activity won’t do much good if there are severe problems with engagement in your organisation, so you should look into issues before putting effort into teambuilding.

Consider whether each team member will want to participate in the activity – you should never coerce or force team members to participate as this will generate resentment and make them disengaged, which will undermine the team building exercise.

Likewise, also think about the physical or psychological risks involved – if the activity you choose runs the risk of injuring, embarrassing or alienating members of your team you should probably consider a different one.

Determine your objectives

Next, you should decide what you want to achieve from your team building exercises, by determining what challenges your team needs to overcome. Does your team suffer from conflicts or divisions? Is there poor communication? Are certain members focusing on individual achievement over group performance? Questions like these will help you determine your objectives for your team building exercise.

Choose the right activity

Once you have decided on what you want to achieve, you can choose a team building activity that matches your objectives. You can find numerous ideas for team building activities online; the challenge is in choosing the right one.

Remember, if you are unsure you can ask your team for input. That way, you will more likely find an activity that everyone will engage with and benefit from.

Get creative

It is a good idea to consider engaging a professional team building facilitator to design and run the session for you. A facilitator will create activities that draw out the issues that the team want to address, and should also include a debriefing session to make the links between the issues and the team behaviours during the session.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to facilitated sessions, you can try something creative in the office. Remember team building activities don’t necessarily have to be expensive in order to be effective.

Continue the momentum

Finally, when planning your team building activity make sure it isn’t just a once-off event. Teambuilding isn’t something that you can achieve overnight, so plan to hold multiple team building sessions.

Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations. .

She also runs the Shaping Change Inner Circle, an exclusive membership network for driven leaders around the world who are passionate about making a difference, building successful businesses and leveraging the talents and skills of their people.

Visit www.shapingchange.com.au to pick up your complimentary copy of Ros’ e-guide to Leading Change

Image credit: Flickr


As we commence a new year, one of the things that leaders are often pondering is the performance and relationships of their team. Performance indicators show that effective teams will almost always outperform people working individually, particularly in high-pressure situations or when multiple skillsets are needed.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as most organisations are recognising the importance of teambuilding and are trying to foster it in the workplace. However, building effective teams requires more than an abstract commitment to teamwork; it requires input from managers to foster it.

Without teambuilding skills, a manager risks limiting the productivity of their employees to what each member can do on their own, whereas if you foster teambuilding you can unite your team around a common goal, which will raise productivity as a result.

So here are 5 steps to building a productive and effective team this year:

Step 1: Establish leadership

if your employees trust your judgements they will work effectively even when you’re not aroundBefore you can start teambuilding, you need to develop the right kind of leadership skills. This doesn’t mean asserting authority, instead try to foster trust through honesty and transparency.  Especially in larger organisations, managers can’t be everywhere at once, but if your employees trust your judgements they will work effectively even when you’re not around.

Step 2: Establish relationships with each of your employees

Try to learn more about each member of your team, their skill sets, how they are motivated and their likes and dislikes. This knowledge is invaluable to leaders, as it allows them to match each employee’s expertise and competencies to specific problems, which will help increase their productivity and job satisfaction.

As well as this, try to include your employees in the decision making process where possible. Instead of delegating tasks, give your team’s open-ended projects and allow them to determine the best solution. This will encourage them to cooperate and develop problem solving skills.

Step 3: Build relationships between your employees

As your team starts to cooperate more, examine the way they work together and take steps to improve communication, cooperation and trust amongst the team. If there are any conflicts, try to resolve them amicably. Listen to both sides of the argument and act as a mediator. One way to do this is to brainstorm solutions, which helps to empower your employees and may lead to new solutions to the problem.

Step 4: Foster teamwork

Once you have established relations with and between your employees, it’s time to help them work together effectively. Encourage your team to share information, both amongst themselves and within the wider organisation.  Also, try to communicate more with your team. This goes beyond simply holding meetings, and includes things like being open to suggestions and concerns, asking about each team member’s work and offering assistance where necessary, and doing everything you can to communicate clearly and honestly with your team.

Step 5: Set ground rules for the team

[Teambuilding] is an ongoing organic process that you a will have to facilitate and guideFinally, you can begin officially establishing your team through creating team values and goals, as well as evaluating team performance alongside individual performance. Be sure to include your team in this process, so they know what’s required and agree with it.

Teambuilding is one of the most important responsibilities a manager has. It isn’t something that can be achieved in a short time and then forgotten. It is an ongoing organic process that you a will have to facilitate and guide. As this process unfolds, however, your team members will begin to trust and support one another and share their skill sets and effort in order to more effectively complete your organisation’s goals.

Do you have experience with a successful team building exercise – what worked and what didn’t? Tell us your story in the comments below! 

Photo credit: flickr

Rosalind Cardinal is The Leadership Alchemist and Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.

Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 25 years.  Ros brings an energetic and proactive approach combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.

Visit www.shapingchange.com.au to pick up your complimentary copy of Ros’ e-guide to Leading Change. Written for managers who are tasked with leading organisational change, the guide presents practical steps to leading successful change. Ros also runs the Shaping Change Inner Circle, an exclusive membership network for driven leaders around the world who are passionate about making a difference, building successful businesses and leveraging the talents and skills of their people.