Here is the definition as listed on Wikipedia:
“Team building refers to a wide range of activities, presented to businesses, schools, and sports teams, religious or non-profit organizations designed for improving team performance. Team building is an important factor in any environment, its focus is to specialize in bringing out the best in a team to ensure self development, positive communication, leadership skills and the ability to work closely together as a team to problem solve.”
Clearly the key focus by any definition should be to improve team performance, but I state the definition as follows:
Team building refers to a wide range of activities, that allow team members to meaningfully engage and interact, that result in improved team performance.
This improvement can be achieved in a variety of ways, ranging from what could be considered team recreation, simply getting team members out of their normal work environment to spend a few hours truly interacting with each other. At the other end of the spectrum it could mean, in-depth training courses ranging from understanding different personality perspectives to addressing specific team challenges, like team communications, decision making and problem solving.
The term “team building” can conjure up both positive and negative images in people’s minds, depending on prior experiences. The range of services available can sometimes put people in situations that are out of their comfort zone or be considered trivial a waste of valuable time.
The key to successfully engaging in team building is first to be clear on the desired outcomes of a session. Secondly, ensure that the chosen activity will indeed foster meaningful interaction, to allow for improved team performance. The challenge however comes in specific measurement of the outcomes.
The term team building is also often used by event organizers looking for a social activities. These are probably best described as corporate group activities, where the focus is purely on social interaction and entertainment. Often the activities delivered as team building events can be utilized as corporate group activities but the criteria for success and selection is primarily focused on entertainment not the training elements.
My next post will focus on the benefits organizer should look for in team building activities focused on improved team performance.