Team Building? 12 Questions
to Help You Make the Right Decision
by Merrick Rosenberg
Theres no such thing as the
perfect team. But, wouldnt it be great if you could help your team on
There are many types of team
building interventions and like a carpenter, you need to select the right
tool for the job. However, before you begin building the perfect team, you
may wish to ask yourself a series of questions. Following are the initial
questions that I ask all of my clients before they embark on their
1) How would you rate your
team building goals on a continuum of fun vs. developmental?
Team building can mean
different things to different people. For some, team building means fun,
interactive activities. For others, team building connotes a process in
which people address the issues that are inhibiting a positive and
productive work environment. Fun team building events build camaraderie
and boost morale. Developmental team building processes allow the team
to emerge with the synergy, focus, cohesiveness and bottom-line
effectiveness. You must determine your expectations for the session so
that the session can meet your goals.
2) Are you interested in a
process or an event?
Events can be either
designed for a bonding/get-to-know-you exercises or they can address
relevant issues. Processes are aimed at long-term team development,
which help to reinforce the knowledge learned by participants. Processes
acknowledge that team building is a journey, not a destination. Events
are generally a one-day session or shorter, whereas a process takes
place over several months, with multiple sessions spread out throughout
that time frame.
3) What do you expect from an
in-depth team building program or process?
Prior to any team building
intervention, you need to have a clear understanding of your
expectations. You may wish to consider those behaviors that you believe
the group needs to Stop, Start and Continue. The program design and
activities that are selected can help to address these key behaviors,
reinforcing strengths and highlighting key areas for development.
4) Are you looking for an
off-the-shelf or customized program?
Off the shelf programs are
less expensive because you will not be paying for the design of a new
program. A program customized for your teams needs is geared towards
their specific goals and objectives not standard ones. However, an
experienced team building provider will be able to customize a program
for you without your incurring significant design expenses.
5) Do you believe the issues
facing your team are skill-based or dynamic-based?
People need to have certain
skills to be an effective team member. Communication skills, the ability
to build trust, the interpersonal know-how to establish strong
relationships with others, and conflict management abilities are key
team skills. Each persons abilities vary based on their experiences and
behavioral style. Sometimes the team issues are caused by skill
deficiencies. Other times, team members may have these skills, but, the
team is still has morale issues, low trust among members, personality
clashes or regular communication breakdowns. You need to determine if
the team lacks skills or the team has created an environment in which
they do not work together well. This will drive the type of team
building needed for the team.
6) Do you believe that
everyone on the team would identify the same core challenges of the team?
While everyone on the team
might describe the teams issues in a different way, the leader must
acknowledge that his or her perspective of the teams dynamic is not the
definitive explanation of the teams challenges. Dont go directly with
what you personally believe to be the issues. Conduct a team survey
prior to team to ensure that any team building intervention targets
overall team needs.
7) Is there any pre-work
needed before team building?
It depends. If you are
conducting a fun, team building event that is based around interactive
exercises, you can create a buzz around the event by telling the group
very little about their team adventure. If you plan on addressing
real-world team issues, you need to make sure you address the right
issues. A team survey may be needed to identify the issues and their
8) Is it beneficial to speak
with the facilitator conducting your program prior to team building?
Speaking with the
facilitator prior to the program is critical to team building
effectiveness. The facilitator can discover background information about
the team and learn about your goals and expectations for the program and
the team after the event or process has concluded. This will ensure that
the team building program is designed to meet the needs of the team.
9) How do you gain buy-in for
Remember that people support
what they help to create
so let them create the process. Let team
members know that the team building process will be based on the overall
results of the team survey.
10) Where should you conduct
Conducting a session on-site
saves money. However, there is a trade-off. Taking people offsite is far
more effective because participants are more relaxed. Further, they stay
with the team during lunch and breaks, instead of heading back to their
desk to check messages and respond to e-mails. The investment in the
team needs to include an investment in selecting the right location. A
well-traveled team building provider will be able to suggest a location
that meets your needs.
11) What type of budget is
available to conduct team building?
Your budget will determine
whether you can conduct an event or a process, an off the shelf program
or customized session, and guide who facilitates the session (in-house
staff or team building professionals). Your budget will also help to
establish realistic expectations for team building. You may wish to
provide a ballpark of budgetary constraints to your team building vendor
so they can design a process within your means.
12) How can you measure team
By conducting a pre and
postteam survey, the team can measure progress. The team will be able
to see how they interacted and worked as a team before their first
session and then six months later, after they returned from their
session and applied their new knowledge. Post-program results allow the
team to celebrate their successes and set next-level goals at a
follow-up team building event.