How to make the most of your team building investment

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

Barcelona is THE place to be when it comes to exciting outdoor team building activities... We have spectacular attractions like the Camp Nou, beautiful beaches, towering mountains, architecture, nature and buckets of culture. There are countless companies offering their services here, boasting the most challenging and innovative activities you can imagine for all sizes of groups; from small teams to groups of up to 2,000 people!

Few people would fail to see the benefits of these team building activities. In general, participants are delighted to be alongside their team during these activities; energy is high, personal connections are strengthened and team spirit is at an all-time high. The teams are focused on achieving mutually satisfying goals.

Team building is not a solution to every problem, though it offers many benefits and is a viable approach to developing an organization’s most valuable resource – the people. The benefits of team building are also numerous:

  • Team building can also reduce costs by increasing productivity without sacrificing quality
  • Team building can improve communication patterns between team members
  • Team building can also promote a work environment that enhances creativity and motivation.

All very good reasons to invest time and money in challenging Outdoor Team Building activities, I’m sure you will agree!

The main question, however, is…

“What happens after team building?”

Does the enthusiastic team spirit last for months after the team building session? Or are those positive effects slowly lost with each passing day and each new project, activity and deadline? In many cases, a few months after the event, that special and valuable experience has become just a fun memory.

Research on this topic (HBR, 2007) shows that in most cases affection among team members does indeed increase, but structural changes in behavior didn’t occur. As with all changes we want to achieve in our behavior, good intentions alone are not enough to secure results.

In the worst cases, these types of events can even have negative results, meaning decreased motivation and frustration within the team as good intentions are discouraged. This can happen in cases where the high expectations people had for the team building activity were not met. 

How can ensure that we benefit from team building activities in the long-term? Well, it is very important that the leader takes the lead and does not take the positive results for granted!

How to secure long-term benefits

Firstly, it is critical to implement a well-planned and brilliantly structured follow-up. It should look something like this:

  1. You should put the team building event on the agenda of your next team meeting. This will give you a chance to celebrate the success you have experienced and receive feedback along with ideas for improvement and change from the team. It is important to talk through the most important ideas and design a realistic roadmap and action plan, assigning idea “owners” and designing a clear communication structure that keep people informed about the progress of the plans.
  2. If, in the end, some ideas might not be possible to implement, let people know the reason for this. You should spend time discussing the progress of improvements on a regular basis, and your team meetings offer the perfect opportunity.
  3. Next, it is important to remember to celebrate your successes in the long-term and give the team the credit that they deserve.

As you can see, a well planned follow-up should allow for a process of acquiring ideas for improvement, and ways to monitor progress while celebrating success. This is the key to achieving long-term success from your investment. It will keep team spirit high and encourage a full commitment to shared objectives from your team.

Never assume your team building activity will pay off on the long term without a constructive and well planned follow-up.

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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