From time to time, I meet clients who have taken part in some activity that was billed as ‘Team Building.’ The experiences they share can vary widely. Some found their team building experience “extremely beneficial” while others though it was “a complete waste of time” Many have commented that team building is nothing more than a pleasant distraction. The efficacy of a team building endeavor is dependent on a number of things, not the least of which is the skill of the facilitator and the length of the program.
Building an effective team requires commitment.
This statement sums up the bulk of the challenge faced by CEOs, managers, and anyone who is looking for a team development program. I get dozens of calls a month from organizations who are looking for a team building program, but only have “a half-day” to spend on this endeavor. Although I am a pretty good facilitator, I can’t deliver lasting and significant change to your team with only 4 hours of time. These programs will give you a fun, challenging experience that might open lines of communication between people, will increase short term trust and commitment between team members, and might jump-start dialogue around issues that need change within your organization. A one day team building experience is like opening the door just a crack. You unlock potential – but need more time to see real results. An organization needs to commit more to achieve more.
A better option is for a team to engage in team building activities for 4 hours one day, and then come back for 4-8 hours the next day. This back-to-back team building – with an overnight in between – gives team members a chance to learn new techniques on the first session, and then have a brief incubation time before coming back and building on the lessons learned. The incubation period is a crucial component in the team development process, as it gives people an opportunity to “contemplate, recreate, and marinate” before coming back into the learning environment. The growth seen in teams who engage in this “day-and-a-half” type of team building program is exponential, and the results are typically longer lasting and more beneficial in the long run.
An even better option is to meet for a half-day, return the next day, and meet again for a half-day (Friday through Sunday). With two incubation periods, and plenty of practice and discussion in the new team development skills groups are likely to come away with complete buy-in from their members around their leaders, their mission, and their work groups. Teams who engage in ‘the long weekend’ program are more likely to take the gains made over their weekend retreat and institute these new behaviors back in their work environment. It won’t be “business as usual” when these teams return to the office on Monday – but rather “business is unusual.”
We cannot stress enough the importance of commitment with regards to team building and team development. The more you put in, the more you get out. If you are truly seeking improvement in your work teams or your organization, then you should be willing to commit more than a day for your team building endeavors. Incubate = ‘contemplate, recreate, marinate’ for exponential and lasting results.
For more information about NEXTeams Team Development programs, please contact Eriq Powers – (240) 603-4150 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to serving you and facilitating your team development!