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The 7 Sins of Team Building

        posted by , January 06, 2013

Team building is important. Team building is fun. Team building can go drastically wrong.

Coney Island water carnival

When done right, team building activities can improve employee morale, creativity and productivity. It can reduce the barriers of office politics. Team building can help you to create an effective corporate culture.

When done wrong, team building can backfire on management. The result can be disengaged employees, interpersonal issues, escalation of office politics and legal problems.

The follow 7 mistakes can damage your team building efforts.

1. Lameness

Your icebreakers crash and burn. Your activities are boring. Your workshops are pointless.

Don't underestimate the difficulties of planning and executing team building events. Professional facilitation is often a good idea.

If you're on a budget you'll need to plan well. Try things out with a small group first.

2. Lack of Inclusion

Forcing everyone in the team to participate in the boss's favorite hobby is not always a good idea.

Activities such as golf that require a predefined skillset may end up embarrassing those who aren't good at it. Employees may feel that the boss is just showing off her skills with her golfing cronies.

Go for activities that put everyone on a level playing field. Activities your team has never tried before can work. Take an ice sculpting class.

3. Negativity

Activities should have a positive focus. The last thing you want is for your team building to turn into a complaint session.

Structured activities specifically designed to bring out the best in your team are better than sitting around gossiping.

4. Lack of Creativity

Team building exercises should break people out of their patterned behaviors to generate creative sparks.

Get people dancing, moving, thinking and creating things that they would never create in their daily work.

Going out to a movie doesn't cut it.

5. Static Social Interaction

Team building should encourage people to socially interact in new ways.

Going for dinner and having everyone sit with their best work pals doesn't accomplish much.

Structure is required to break old social patterns. Play games that encourage people to interact in new ways.

6. Ethical Danger

Taking your employees on an overnight excursion, loading them up with alcohol and not allowing them to invite their partners is a recipe for regret, family problems and broken interpersonal relationships.

In many cultures, wine has long social and business traditions. However, it comes with risks.

7. Physical Danger

There's a human instinct to build teams with danger. Ask skydivers — they'll tell you that mortal danger is a great way to build teams.

The problem is that if you encourage your employees to take physical risks, that's your legal responsibility. It's also your ethical responsibility.

If your employees are driving home it's a bad idea to load them up with alcohol.

If nothing else make sure that your employees all survive your team building exercises. Keep your people safe.

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