Last month, Barbara Rattle, editor of the Utah’s Business Journal The Enterprise requested permission to reprint the team building primer I wrote it in 2002 and last updated in 2006. This is the key message:
If you want to ensure that your budget for team building gets cut, treat it like a commodity. Give the most inexperienced person in your team the responsibility for contacting prospective suppliers. Provide very little guidance. They'll shortlist based on what sounds like “fun” or what's least expensive. When making your selection, go for the latest fad, what's hot and the flavor of the month. It's guaranteed. Suddenly, "poof" the money will be gone and team building will be something we used to do.
This is exactly what happened during the economic downturn. Team building and recreational team events were relegated to the same "discretionary expense" pile and chopped. When I was speaking with Barbara I sighed and said “This is one time I wish I was wrong”.
Companies can learn valuable lessons from the events of the last 2 ½ years. It's not too late to fine-tune team building strategies and focus on initiatives that move the yardstick in terms of team and corporate performance.
In the original article, I provided this advice and I've modified it slightly.
....if you really want team building to be a value added, give careful attention to clarifying your objectives. Allow sufficient time for defining your team building strategy, design, customization, event planning, and implementation. Focus on measuring results.
Offer team events but never use them as a substitute for team building. I have faith that companies are ready to make this happen.
You'll find helpful tips here:
When the Team Building Primer has been added to the website, I will share the link in Comments
For discussions, tips and resources to improve the bottom line impact of team building, corporate executives are invited to join:
- Team Building Network for Executives (LinkedIn Group)
Executives from over 30 countries have joined the group.