The objective of any team-building experience, in the end, is to create an environment where the team members learn to accept each other and establish an organic system of (unspoken) rules and guidelines that exist within that team.
For this to occur, especially within the corporate environment, you will need to give your employees the space they need to figure this out. This refers to both emotional and physical space. If they feel crowded over or watched, then this process will not occur or will take too long to happen. And this will likely become another source of hostility.
Do not be worried though if there is still some resistance within the group, as the team learns to balance itself, accept its own set of rules, it will have some pain points and this is normal. As they review and clarify the Problem and the Goal, they will start to change and/or conform to certain roles. To make sure that the team is moving in a positive direction, keep an eye out for these points:
- Questioning performance & actions
- Individual assertiveness towards specific ideas
- Intentional listening to each other’s ideas
- Testing of new ideas
- Raising risky issues with each other
- Identifying each other’s strengths and weaknesses
If these occur then you can take comfort that the team is learning about itself and how their personal goals fit within the overall Goal of the experience or project. As well as what actions they need to take to ensure a successful outcome for everyone.
Thanks to the central Problem and Goal provided by a team-building experience, teams will come to a consensus, through some necessary compromises, and ultimately consolidate and solidify as a single entity.
Implementation & Accomplishment
As the team and its member have gone through the difficult phases of learning about each other again and learning to work together, they will come together and work as one to achieve the Goal for the Problem that has up to this point kept them together.
Having fully reconnected, and working together as a single unit, the team will likely fall into a state flow and engage in a time of intense team productivity to solve the problem and reach the desired outcome for the objective that they were given. As they go into this flow-state the team’s motivation should increase as its members work on their own goals, each other’s goals and the overall goal. In essence, a symbiotic entity could emerge and the team becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
This esoteric concept of how a team comes together is essential. It cannot be directly quantified in the moment that it occurs, but it is a necessary moment of collaboration if the team is to survive beyond the current Problem-Goal that they have been given. If they become greater than the sum of their parts and have a successful completion of their task, then you will certainly have a cohesive team. But you cannot become complacent, as a team’s purpose for existence is still having something to strive for.
Once a team has completed the Goal of the Problem, they will feel fulfilled. Especially in one or two day team-building experiences and workshops, the sense of elation and euphoria will be quite strong. The want and need to remain as a team will be very powerful at this point, and therefore support and follow-up conversations will be needed to maintain the cohesion of the team.
If a team-building experience was indeed used to (re-)start your team’s collaboration then you will need to ensure that there is a project ready and waiting for them to jump into when they come out of the experience and go back to their regular day jobs. You need to ride the wave as it were.
For the general health and wellbeing of your teams, will have to follow up a few days after the experience, and keep doing this for several weeks after still. Or if it was an externally facilitated team experience, then perhaps the outside facilitator will be able to follow up as well and check in with your teams to make sure they are doing well. Though this isn’t a free pass for you, it simply provides you with another point of view beyond your own check-ups.
Providing this level of support during and after a team-building experience will help foster a better team culture for your company, and promote trust and loyalty between members and managers. And it will also stimulate a healthier, more inclusive and productive work culture in your organisation.
Remember, the goal of a team is to kill the task and not kill the team. And this can best be done through a tailored team-building experience.