Strategies That Level Up Team Bonding to Team Building

According to Inc. Magazine, businesses find high-performing teams critical because “people must work closely together, wear many hats and work effectively across the organization to get tasks accomplished quickly enough to remain competitive.”

Because teamwork is so critical to a business’ success, understanding the differences between team-bonding and team-building activities are important, as well as, understanding where you get the most value for your efforts.

What are team bonding events?

It is very common for organizations to plan events to get the team together to get to know each other and bond. Common workplace “bonding events” can include a day of cooking, a day of ropes, brunch cruise, bowling, paintball, etc. These type of activities are best represented as team building icebreakers because they use the power of play to create a relaxed environment to nurture connections outside of the normal day-to-day work dynamics. 

Team bonding is a good start but not enough.

Team bonding injects fun into the business environment. Typically, it’s a one-shot relationship booster used to encourage people to do something different together and to connect outside of work.

Surely, you get the benefits of being together at team bonding events but you get little in the way of other team boosting benefits. Outside of building rapport, they don’t do much for solving team related challenges or catapulting team growth. At best, these type of events are band aid treatments to serious team challenges.

If your goal is to building a strong team, your goal is to go beyond the “bonding events” and produce “building experiences” that leverage rapport to build a cohesive and functional team. If team bonding doesn’t have a clear goal and guidance, it can be a waste of time.  To reap team value you will have to consider adding the following elements.

You get more with team building.

Team building represents acknowledging the strengths of a team, increasing its productivity and improving the overall functioning of all team members. Team members learn how to work with each other and respect the contributions of each co-worker. It builds and develops important soft skills, such as communication and conflict resolution. It may have some elements of team bonding, but that is not the core, it goes much deeper into the core and can truly change the behaviors that affect workplace performance.

Five Differences between Team Bonding and Team Building

Four Ways to Level up from Team Bonding to Team Building

You want your team to perform well in the workplace not just at team bonding events. So, use the planned team bonding event as a jump start to meaningful team building opportunities. Use the following basic guidelines during your team building planning process.

1. Craft team building goals.

List the team improvement goals that need to be fulfilled. If your team needs to loosen up a bit and build rapport outside of work, team bonding wins out. But if your team needs to work on improving its performance and developing deeper connections, you want to add additional events that accomplish that goal.

2. Use a team building facilitator.

Someone should be designated to ensure team building objectives are met. Make sure it is someone who can read the room, create opportunities for team building success and move everyone toward meeting your team building goals.

3. Be intentional about team interaction. 

If you are taking valuable time away from the office, you don’t want to leave team interaction to chance. With intentional interaction, you increase familiarity, collaboration and trust. Focus on the team dynamics in addition the fun side of the activity. Make sure everyone gets the opportunity to get to know each other better. Consider how “everyone” will get to build rapport at the event? Will there be limited engagement between groups? If so, what can be done to change that?

4. Provide several opportunities to build team skills.

Use team building to work on improving team performance and developing deeper connections. Ensure your activities provide reflection time and activities for team members to learn how to better communicate, be innovative, collaborate, use critical thinking and leadership skills.

How do you ensure successful team building activities in your organization? Comment below and share your ideas.

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