When I first started working with teams I was often asked, “will we be doing trust falls?” I always answered in the negative because I didn’t see the direct connection between falling blindfolded into someone’s arms and working together effectively.
While shared experiences can create team cohesion, they can also cause problems:
Embarrassment because you are not as skilled as others at something like golf
Trying activities don’t translate well from one organization to another
Forcing people together who actually aren’t on the same team. Katzenbach and Smith define a team as "A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they are mutually accountable."
Consultants are usually called in for teambuilding when there’s an issue on the team. I recommend that you work directly on that issue instead of “teambuilding”:
If there’s lack of communication. Then work on how, what & when to communicate.
If there’s lack of respect. Then talk about why respect, what is looks like & what are the consequences of we don’t respect each other.
If staff aren’t linked to the strategy. Then discuss the org’s strategy and their direct line of sight to that strategy.
If there is friction. Then define each member’s roles & responsibilities and how they interact with each other.
If there is conflict. Then address the conflict directly.
While I might not believe in “trust falls,” I do believe in team effectiveness, which means working with your team to ensure the processes, structures, responsibilities and link to the big picture are in place.
We don’t have the time and resources to waste time being ineffective working together. We should make the time and resources available to ensure your team is high performing.
Want to be a better team leader? Give your team the tools to become high performing.
Photograph by Valerie MacLeod