Team building strengthens bonds and forms new ones. It also improves psychological safety, communication, and trust in a safe environment.
An organisation’s success depends on the strength of the people within it and how well those people work together. Teams can be anything from two people to large cross-discipline teams of several hundred. Each employee might be part of multiple teams in their role.
Teams can be made up of employees who work right beside each other and employees who work virtually or a combination. For a more formal definition, teamwork is an organisational behaviour which is defined as the effective and efficient action of a group towards a goal. Kozlowski, S. W., & Ilgen, D. R. (2006)
Team building also varies hugely. Team building can be as simple as socialising or as complex as running skilled-based workshops. The level of complexity it takes to run successful team-building events makes hiring a third party a good return on investment.
An expert in organisational psychology can define your team, it’s needs and create a team-building solution that works for your organisation. In this article we will discuss several key benefits of team building for your organisation based on current research.
Team building improves psychological safety
Central to all team-building events is building psychological safety, essential for team productivity.
Psychological safety is similar to building trust but goes one step further. Trust can be defined as the expectation that others will make future decisions based on your best interests. Team psychological safety ensures that team members feel comfortable to be themselves.
When there is team psychological safety, team members have a shared belief that risk-taking is safe to do. Mistakes will happen in any organisation, it is how they are dealt with that matters. Employees are more likely to own up to their mistakes and work through them if psychological safety is present. Edmondson, A. (1999), Ridley, C. H., Al-Hammadi, N., Maniar, H. S., ben Abdallah, A., Steinberg, A., Bollini, M. L., Patterson, G. A., Henn, M. C., Moon, M. R., Dahl, A. B., & Avidan, M. S. (2021)
Having this level of group safety also means that team members can take reasonable risks, which increases innovation since risks are necessary for growth & transformation.
Psychological safety has also been linked to improved mental health outcomes for team members. A team that feels safe working together is more resilient during times of stress which impacts mental health positively. When there is psychological safety, communication within the group is more robust, and team members feel more able to collaborate and pull together to solve problems.
Team Building Strengthens Communication
Team building offers an environment where employees can work on their communication. Team building exercises take employees out of their daily routine and into a new environment where mistakes are more likely to happen and encourage communication through problem-solving.
Team building events that ask employees to set a common goal and define roles during the activity best promote communication. When employees need to self organise in this way it encourages collaboration. This kind of team-building activity enables team members who might usually take a back seat to step into more of a leadership role.
Regular team-building events which focus on communication and leadership building lead to improved outcomes for employees in their role. It also leads to improved teamwork and better communication during regular working hours. Yi, Y. (2015).
Relationship Conflict in High-Performance Teams
Team building is essential for high-performance teams, specifically concerning working relationships. de Dreu, C. K. W., & Weingart, L. R. (2003) looked at the difference between task and relationship conflict between high-performance teams. The study found that high-performance teams were better able to deal with task conflict than relationship conflict. When relationship conflict was high, and task conflict was low, the team did not perform well.
The researchers suggest that relationship conflict forces the team to look at interpersonal differences that cause social comparisons.
Team building exercises that focus on relationship building in high-performance teams can improve potential conflicts and increase positive outcomes.
Essentially, high-performance teams will pull together and put aside differences when there is a serious problem to overcome; however, day-to-day issues are more likely to encourage poor teamwork and conflict.
Team building events that focus on improving working relationships will counteract this issue.
Ask employees for feedback
So far, we’ve looked at several studies which discuss why team building is essential. When gathering research and evidence to develop a team-building program, every organization should ask their employees what they think about current team-building events.
Recent research on team building has turned away from the HR department and asked employees directly; what do you want out of team building? This is vital information that every organisation can get hold of by running a team-based or company-wide survey.
HR departments are undoubtedly already aware that employees have a range of interest levels in team-building activities. One study found that employees were the most interested in social team building and least interested in outdoor team building. We specialise in VR team building with a large social component while also providing fun and extremely engaging activities that teams are unlikely to have experienced before.
To get the best out of team building, design should be collaborative between HR, employees, heads of departments, and external agencies. Employees know the team they operate in, and they already know what they enjoy engaging with and how, so we encourage you to involve them in the process.
Team building is essential for creating strong teams that perform well daily and in challenging times. It is critical that individuals feel comfortable working with their colleagues and can be themselves, communicate effectively and foster positive relationships. Get in touch for more information about the different team-building activities we run. We’d be more than happy to discuss the options available to you.
Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350–383. https://doi.org/10.2307/2666999
Ridley, C. H., Al-Hammadi, N., Maniar, H. S., ben Abdallah, A., Steinberg, A., Bollini, M. L., Patterson, G. A., Henn, M. C., Moon, M. R., Dahl, A. B., & Avidan, M. S. (2021). Building a Collaborative Culture: Focus on Psychological Safety and Error Reporting. The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 111(2), 683–689. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.05.152
Jehn, K. A., & Mannix, E. A. (2001). The Dynamic Nature of Conflict: A Longitudinal Study of Intragroup Conflict and Group Performance. Academy of Management Journal, 44(2), 238–251. https://doi.org/10.5465/3069453
Yi, Y. (2015). Effects of team-building on communication and teamwork among nursing students. International Nursing Review, 63(1), 33–40. https://doi.org/10.1111/inr.12224
Park, W.W. (2012) Teamwork: Meaning, Measurement, and Methods. Seoul National University Press, Seoul.
de Dreu, C. K. W., & Weingart, L. R. (2003). Task versus relationship conflict, team performance, and team member satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(4), 741–749. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.88.4.741
Kozlowski, S. W., & Ilgen, D. R. (2006). Enhancing the Effectiveness of Work Groups and Teams. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 7(3), 77–124. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1529-1006.2006.00030.x