3 Reasons Your Team-Building Event Didn’t Work

team pic for blogAt your last annual team strategy or planning session you may have included a team building session to kick off the meetings. Maybe you had a retreat to help energize and focus your team or you’ve had some challenges and wanted to have a team building session to improve performance and collaboration.

Whatever your reasons, chances are the team may have reported enjoying the event or activities, and even talked about it for a week or so after, but it didn’t really translate back to real change and improved individual and team performance. In fact, the most common response I get from team leaders when I ask them what would make a team building session successful is that they want something that has “stickiness”.

So why does this happen? Why do you rarely see real change in how team members work together to accomplish goals after a team building session? Here are 3 reasons:

1. The team- building event doesn’t address the real team performance issues. It is either a collection of activities designed to have fun and bolster camaraderie or the conversation is around symptoms, not the core challenges experienced by the team.

Moreover, if there is tension or stress within the team, or the work challenges are significant, pulling them out of work for some touchy-feely exercises is only going to cause resentment. Depending on the exercises, they can actually foster more competition than collaboration.

2. The tool(s) used for assessment don’t measure or provide information about practical issues and opportunities to tangibly improve team collaboration and performance.

When choosing assessment tools for team building, many team leaders gravitate towards something they are familiar with or have used before without fully considering whether those tools will help improve performance or meet the needs and goals of their team. It may be nice to know about a team mate’s personality traits but that doesn’t typically translate into anything that will improve performance or help drive change.

3. The event is exactly that, an event. There is no commitment to follow up or accountability for taking action at the end of the event. The insights that may have been gained aren’t translated back and integrated into how the team actually works together to execute on their strategy. The momentum is lost as everyone goes back to work and forgets about it after a while. Until the next event.

What is needed then is a practical tool and session that helps the team have genuine discussions about their strengths and challenges in working together in the context of the strategy and goals they need to deliver results. Something that will actually help improve team performance. In choosing a tool for developing your team, you will have greater success at having a meaningful productive meeting and the “stickiness” you want if the tool helps you:

➢ Focus on individual and team strengths in getting things done and understand how those strengths affect how the team works together;

➢ Bring clarity and new insights into existing issues and help the team address them in a tangible, constructive way;

➢ Help the team see conflict and challenges more objectively and help them focus on solutions that work for them;

➢ Lay the groundwork for actionable steps the team can take to improve performance and their ability to execute with follow-up coaching to keep the momentum going and stay on track with commitments.

I have done a significant amount of research on individual and team assessment and analytic tools for improving team performance and the one I have chosen for my practice is Kolbe©. It does not measure any aspect of personality. It assesses the team’s instinctive talent for getting things done and is one of the most predictive measures of performance I have seen. It can also be a lot of fun.

There are certainly many tools out there that you can choose from and my advice would be to do your homework before planning a session to ensure you work with something that fits with your objectives. Interview 2-3 consultants, even if they use the same tool. You want someone who can help facilitate a session that is going to drive the changes you want.

For a complementary consultation on improving team performance, please fill out our contact form and I would be happy to set up a time to chat about how to make your next team meeting stick.

For more information about team performance, please visit my Team Solutions page.

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