Team-building is different things to different companies. It is different things to different departments within the same company. Team-building is the name given to a broad range of desired outcomes, tried-and-true exercises and group discussions.
Team-building is, above all else, a process rather than an event. We are asked to provide team-building to companies when a division or department begins experiencing some of the following symptoms: dissent, diminishing commitment, diminishing morale, conflict between members or, conflict between unified team members and their leader. We have been approached to help ameliorate these (and other) symptoms and, at worst, restore the team to a level of past functioning and, at best, improve their morale and productivity beyond earlier levels and take them to new heights.
Usually (but not always), this is an involved process. Typically, it begins with our interviewing all of the involved parties individually to gather data about the problems and potentials in the team. We spend between 30 and 60 minutes with each team member, and often more time with the team leader. From these interviews we begin to see and understand the themes that underlie the team’s problem areas and we see the strengths from which to build. Depending on the size of the team (which in a few cases has involved entire companies), this can be a time-consuming process.
As an alternative to conducting interviews, standardized questionnaires can be distributed to and filled out by all involved parties. This is an inferior, but far more economical approach to gathering data and we don’t usually recommend it.
In our past work with companies, team-building sessions have lasted from a single two hour session to (more commonly) one or two day-long “retreats,” to ten or fifteen two hour-long sessions. And while we prefer to work with teams in a neutral, off-site location we have engaged many a team in company conference or lunchrooms.