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Team building - what every manager should know

You’re thinking about running a team build with your team. But first of all, ask yourself why?

The answer will steer how you need to approach the whole concept of team building and what it stands for. Let’s take three common answers and work through them in turn:

So my team get to know each other better.

This one comes up a lot and we can assume the ‘so that’ that follows it is about working better, smoother handovers, less mistakes, the list goes on. So let’s start with that: you want your team to get to know each other better. It’s fair to say that teams who have a mutual respect for each other are more conducive to higher productivity and it’s also true to say that a team that is devoid of posturing and one-upmanship can help to give better results so it’s a reasonable ask.

If building relationships is your only purpose then save your money and go bowling or to the pub. Steer clear of team activities that on the surface look teamy but in fact can be divisive and over competitive such as paintballing or go-karting. The other issue with these two in particular is people wear helmets – not great for conversations!

Find something that encourages communication and keeps everyone together. Some competition is fine, but make sure that winning becomes the most important thing.

So they can give each other feedback

Bowling or pubs are not the best forums for giving or receiving feedback. A team build activity is. Choose an activity that replicates some of the issues your team experience – are they interested in their own team at the expense of others? Are they focussed enough on the customer? Do they struggle influencing others? Whatever the issues are, choose an activity that mirrors the issues so your team get to react and behave in a way they will do back at work. The benefit of using an activity is that your team will get absorbed into it – and forget it’s a work thing. This means they will be less deliberate about their actions and respond according to their ‘default’ behaviours. This is perfect for giving and receiving feedback.

By giving and receiving feedback on what has happened in the team build activity people are going to base it in what’s just happened – where there were loads of witnesses and very little opportunity to wriggle out of it.

Then comes the killer question: when is this like work? A vital question to get your team to realise that the behaviours they exhibited today are likely to be the same as those they exhibit back at work. And they will realise the impact they have on their colleagues.

To reward them for a job well done

You might be thinking that the answer is the same as the first one – but it’s not. Team building activities are a great way of recognising your teams by letting them do something fun that they wouldn’t normally do at work. And as a bonus to you, you can debrief it in a way that fits your agenda and the way you want them to work in the future.

Any activity that allows them to build or create something as a team is perfect for this as it hooks into the team ethos you probably already have and it allows them to take something visual back to work – a reminder for them – and a trophy for everyone else to see, ask about and aspire towards.

So now you have decided what sort of thing you need to do, you need to think of where to get it. Here there are 4 options.

  1. Go out and do something for example, a cooking school. Pros: easy to arrange, no venue to worry about. Cons: you have to travel and can be expensive
  2. Bring in a team build company. Pros: convenient and impactful. Cons: expensive and may not be tailored to your business
  3. Design something yourself. Pros: low cost and adaptable. Cons: takes time and skill to design and source all the equipment
  4. Buy an off the shelf team build activity. Pros: low cost, off the shelf and ready to deliver. Cons: you have to deliver it yourself.

Your choice is dependent on budget, your confidence in delivering an activity yourself and how well an events agency understands your business and objectives. All are perfectly acceptable and maybe worth exploring all options before making your decision.

The main point though, whatever you choose to do, do something. Teams don’t right themselves. Great teams don’t just happen – it takes work, vision and clear leadership.

Outoftheboxactivities  provides low cost, high impactful teambuilding activities for you to deliver. Included are comprehensive instructions, debrief notes and all the equipment you need. Prices start from just £15 per person. 


Contributor: Julie Price @

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