Team Building: Friend or Foe?


Team Building: Friend or Foe?

Team Building, is it?  Picture this: You are up in the trees, clinging for dear life. “Jump!” your teammates on the ground are screaming. “You can do it!” You close your eyes and let go, swinging through the high ropes course that your Employer has thought to be a wonderful team building exercise. Heights are your biggest fear. You feel no love for your team at this point, and far less for your Employer!

It may be funny to read, but many companies really do put their employees through programs such as these thinking that they will help people work better as a team. However, what it tends to do instead is leave employees feeling anxious, foolish and worse.  In extreme cases it disassociates employees and they can feel like their employers just don’t “get it”, or worse, “them”.

So, all jokes aside, it actually does raise a serious question about the investments made in team building initiatives and the legitimacy of their outcomes. Many Companies who invest in such training believe that employees should appreciate these programs because they are spending a lot of money on them to do this.  They may feel like the company is losing itself a bit and this will “bring it back together”.  But if one side thinks it’s good and the other doesn’t, then it is a waste of time and money and can produce the exact opposite response to what was intended.

Whilst I am sure it is never the intent to deliberately introduce team building exercises that are divisive, the assumption that team building is a good idea without giving thought to how certain things will affect certain people, sometimes isn’t actually that good of an idea at all.  However, that is not to say that all team building is negative, and can cause negative responses.   It is more a matter of considering your team and the individuals that make it up.  Sometimes a survey prior, asking what activities are of interest to your team, can help gauge what to consider and what to not go near!

So here are some more of my quick tips to make sure you get positive results from your team building efforts.


1. Know what you want to accomplish from a business perspective beforehand.

2. Pick the right venue for the people and the business.

3. Expect it to build culture and generate positive energy for the Company.

4. Use it as an opportunity for employees to meet those whom they don’t already know, from different departments or working sites.

5. Be sensitive to how people feel and any limitations they may have.

6. Use activities that have different roles in order to make space for everyone.

7. Send out agendas beforehand and encourage employees to come forward and express concerns or ideas.


8. Over analyse your objectives or try to make things too serious.

9. Try to make team building into something it’s not by expecting unrealistic outcomes.

10. Throw team building into the mix to solve inter-relational problems or conflict at work.

11. Force anyone to do something he/she does not want to do or feels uncomfortable doing.

12. Make people feel self-conscious or guilty about opting out.

13. Don’t ignore feedback about the events- in fact hand out a Feedback Evaluation form at the end to gain as much insight as you can for next time.


In other words, don’t expect a game of paint ball or trust exercises to solve relationship problems back in the office. But if done right, you can expect team building to be fun for employees and in turn generate positive feelings and comradery about the Company for which they work.

HR Central would love to help facilitate your next Team Building workshop.  No high ropes course. We promise.

Call us today for further information.

Olivia Bates

Olivia is an HR professional with over 14 years industry experience. She brings a great wealth of experience to the HR Central team and focuses mainly on supporting our vastly growing Regional Victoria client base. Olivia dedicates most of her time helping clients with: * Organisational development and change management * Employee engagement and coaching including work with Leadership teams from Geelong Football Club * Employee relations and dispute resolution * Leadership development and youth empowerment. This program is aimed at disengaged people and provides skills in job seeking, well-being, finances, personal presentation and career planning * HR Products developed include The Ops Box – a highly visual HR risk management tool housing essential policies and procedures for any workplace * Project and Grant management experience * Contract and Tender development & management * Permanent and executive recruitment. Olivia has placed candidates across a multitude of industries with a strong focus on the mining sector Australia wide.

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