What Is Team Building?

You Can Use Team Building to Turn a Group of Individuals Into a Team

Employees are participating in a team building session that is facilitated by their coworker.
••• Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

Team building is the process of turning a group of individual contributing employees into a cohesive team. A team is a group of people organized to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet the needs of their customers by accomplishing their purpose and goals.

Daily Team Building Opportunities

Team building can include the daily interaction that employees engage in when working together to carry out the requirements of their jobs. This form of team building is natural and can be assisted if the group takes the time needed to come up with a set of team norms. The norms help group members know how to appropriately interact on the team and with the rest of the organization.

Team building can also involve structured activities and exercises that employees on the team can lead, one way in which team norms are established. Or, with the proper budget and goals, managers can contract out for facilitation with an external resource. External facilitation, by an experienced person, can give your team building a boost.

No matter how you choose to build your group of employees into a team, the resulting bonds will enable them to accomplish the work and goals of your organization more effectively than a non-bonded group. As long as your focus is dedicated to team-building opportunities that lend themselves to the accomplishment of the actual work of the team, you are effectively building a team.

Internal Team Building Opportunities

With a little practice, groups of employees such as departments, product teams, marketing teams, and more can use another employee to facilitate their group's session. Often the team leader or manager will facilitate a series of meetings at which employees get to know each other and develop cohesive working relationships.

In a larger organization, organization development staff can lead the team-building sessions. Many Human Resources practitioners are also comfortable leading team building sessions.

But, team building doesn't always have to have a meeting or a facilitated meeting to accomplish the goal of a cohesive team. You can build your teams by structuring activities and fun events that team members can do together. For example, teams have pursued activities such as attending a cooking class, a clay sculpting class, and having a picnic with families at a local park.

You can even send out regular emails or print posters of motivational quotes about teamwork to inspire your employees.

Ideas for Team Building Activities

Start with a department picnic using a couple of hours during the workday to visit a nearby park. You can grill outside of the office and suggest that employees bring a dish to pass. Or, you can order pizza in for the team or purchase lunch from a local caterer or restaurant. The goal that you share with the employees is that you gather together to share some quality talking time over the meal.

The one requirement you will want to consider when team building is your goal is that the team members need, for example, to eat lunch together and not take their lunches to their individual offices to eat alone. That defeats the true goal of building an effective team.

You can sponsor activities where employees get together for fun. Bowling, Christmas Eve lunch, painting pictures with the guidance of a painting shop, river cruises on a passenger boat, comedy club presentations, and baseball games all fit the bill. Really, events that your team can do or attend together for team building are as endless as the team's imagination.

The one caveat you need to remember is that events that are physically challenging such as rock climbing and ropes courses can cause dread and days of fear in the minds of physically inactive or challenged employees. So, for team building, stay away from any type of event that any employee would be unable to participate in comfortably and without fear and trepidation. 

Looking for ideas? Here are fifteen team building activities that you can do at work or in your local area. They are inexpensive, not scary, fun, and do build your team.

Using External Facilitation

When using an external facilitator for team building, groups can participate in structured activities that are designed to help the employees coalesce into an effective team. Generally, the facilitator works with a group of employees to design team building activities or sessions.

You will find these team building activities most effective when they are customized to the needs of your group. Generic team building can have a positive impact, but it is nowhere near as impactful as a customized event.

These sessions can include icebreakers, discussion topics, games, cooperative assignments, and group brainstorming. The role of the external facilitator in these events is to help you reach your goals. Make sure the event is integrated into your everyday work so the results continue following the event.

If you want to have an effective team that produces the outcomes needed by your organization, you have to pay attention to both process and team building. In fact, 80% of the success of a team is due to team building and cohesive working relationships. 20% is in the process—knowing what to do.

See how important team building is in the overall scheme of things?

More Resources for Team Building and Team Success

Article Sources

  1. Investopedia. "80-20 Rule." Accessed May 28, 2020.