Is Team building a waste?
I recently had a conversation with a coach about team building. He had read an article about how most team building efforts were short and shallow and therefor ineffective. He was curious about my thoughts, but also how a coach is supposed to have all the time to do proper team building as well as focus on skills, technique, building endurance, etc.
My response is one I have shared with any coach or leader that has asked for advice on how to build the team. A leader that invests early on in the process of forming a team with effective communication and strong relationships will reap the benefits. If it's a priority, a leader will make time. It is an investment just like any other effort seen to prepare a team to perform when it matters most.
When a team is forming, time should be spent helping the individuals get to know each other. Often the challenge is one of time. A leader might do 1 team building activity or bring in someone like myself, a person with expertise in sport & performance psychology and give us 1-2 hours. Then hope that the team will continue to be strong throughout the season. Team work does not work that way. You need to invest more time than that. There's no magic number either. Some people take longer to open up to their teammates. I have had people walk out of team building sessions because they don't believe others are being truthful. Athletes and employees need time and opportunities to explore how their behavior impacts the team. This might mean some uncomfortable conversations need to occur, team members need to get out of their comfort zone. With consistent efforts, building a team can be accomplished. The benefits can include a more cohesive team, stronger relationships that lead to enhanced performance across the team. Many leaders want the results, but fail to understand the amount of time and effort that is required to get to that point. Team building takes effort, and it should be a priority if team work is essential for success.
What are some things you've tried to build your team? What worked, what didn't?