The term teambuilding has its origins in sports related practices, however today it has gained a broader sense, being applied to any domain that requires teamwork.
Midura & Glover (2005) define teambuilding as a “cooperative process that a group of individuals uses to solve both physical and mental challenges” (p. 1). Through teambuilding people share ideas, discover themselves and others and encourage and help one another, this way becoming a team. Teambuilding makes that difference between a regular group and a true team.
The advantages of teambuilding
Midura & Glover (2005) identify among the advantages of teambuilding the following:
- acquiring leadership skills (people learn to express opinion in front of a group, to be organized, to foster a group trust and communication, to be able to encourage others and to praise them for their accomplishments)
- developing self-confidence and
- earning self-esteem.
Maddux & Wingfield (2003) claim that teambuilding has the following major advantages: the team and each individual member set out realistic goals that can be reached; a genuine bond between employee and leaders is established; an open communication can be established, where the exchange of ideas is being encouraged, conflict an competition are means to improve the dynamics of an activity and, instead of them becoming destructive, individuals find them as an opportunity to discover and develop their abilities, becoming strong performers, developing both as a team and as individuals.
In order for the teambuilding to be effective, it is necessary to regard the four C’s, according to Dyer & Dyer (2007): context, composition, competencies and change. Context refers to the need for team work, the type of team needed tot carry out the work, the culture that the team adheres to and the systems that support teamwork. Composition refers to the team members’ skills, experience and motivation, as well as team size. Competencies are related to the team’s ability to find solutions for problems, to communicate, make decisions, control the tension and manage conflictual situations. Change stands for the team’s ability to monitor performance and to make appropriate changes if the performance level is not as expected.
Conductor and choir
It is absolutely crucial for a compatibility between the leader and the group to exist in order for teambuilding to be effective. Peragine (2007) claims that a leader should have qualities such as an ability to build loyalty, inspire employees, weed out the uncommitted, hold the team together over a long term period and manage the time effectively. The leader is usually the supervisor or coordinator and takes on the role of conductor, while his team becomes the orchestra. In order for the results to be optimal and the whole piece to turn out perfect, compatibility between the team and the leader is absolutely vital.
Teambuilding is a process that involves a number of steps. Michels (2001) speaks about the psychological teambuilding process (the mentality of the player, the team spirit, the motivation to collectively optimize results etc.) and the tactical teambuilding process (involving work and organization strategies and methods of applying these strategies).
The limits of teambuilding
However, teambuilding is not always the optimal solution for any team or for any task. This is to say that teambuilding has certain limits. Michels (2001) claims that some of these limitations include:
- individual qualities of the team’s members (with the different members having different degrees of motivation, emotional states that are liable to change from one day to the other, different levels of availability to work in a team etc);
- the balance of the team (how well they respond to competition, how willing they are to listen to others etc);
- success level (what standards of success are set out and to what extent the members are capable to work to achieve them)
- unpredictability (unforeseen factors that may arise during the process of completing a task and that will require extra efforts of the part of the team).
Whether it is a football team, a small business or a huge corporation, teambuilding is a vital instrument for performance. The one condition is to choose your coach carefully and trust your team. A team is more than the sum of the individuals making it up, it is an entity in itself and can bring success up to a level that a simple individual can merely dream of.
Dyer, W. G. & Dyer, J. H. (2007) Teambuilding. Jossey-Bass
Maddux, R. B. & Wingfield, B. (2003). Team building: An exercise in leadership. US: Von Hoffmann Graphics Inc
Michels, R. (2001). Teambuilding: the road to success. Data Reproductions, Auburn, Michigan
Midura, D. V. & Glover, D. R. (2005). Essentials and Teambuilding: Principles and practices. US: Humans Kinetics.
Peragine, J. H. (2007). 365 Low or No Cost Workplace Teambuilding Activities. Atlantic Publishing Group, Florida