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As I’ve written before, I am convinced there are few phrases that can strike such vivid horror and dread in employees as “team building.” You say the words “team building,” and people go running for the hills and start to stockpile precious resources, like it’s a zombie apocalypse. I, too, get the ick from the phrase. And I facilitate, train, and build teams on a weekly basis! Unfortunately, we have few terms that adequately capture what is the work of building teams, community, and organization culture.

Connection Before Content

At the beginning of many Miracle Heights Adventures programs, we introduce the concept of Connection Before Content, which comes from the book Community by Peter Block. This concept suggests that before we get into the functional portion (“the business”) of why any team or group comes together, we must connect. One, to ourselves. Two, to each other. And three, to our purpose for existing as a team. One way we do this is through the use of image cards in small groups. We invite team members to find a card that best represents what a thriving team or community looks like, sounds like, or feels like to them. Through team building, we aim to build the structures, beliefs, and interpersonal connections that can help us to thrive.

Foundational Teams

Teams are the foundation upon which organizations are built, and where organization culture can be actualized. While our values and ways of being are ideally shared across everyone within an organization, our closest relationships and functions reside within teams. Teams are interdependent and must nurture the capacity to communicate and collaborate effectively. Particularly because these are skills that are learned and grown. When employees feel connected in their teams and enjoy a positive work environment, there’s a greater enthusiasm and commitment to their collective work. Investing in team building, organizations create a sense of belonging and empowerment. This leads to increased employee satisfaction and retention.

Team Language

Oftentimes in team building, the activities are emphasized more than the goals or why to try team building in the first place. Some of the leading experiential team builders have offered additional language for us to visualize and understand the difference between team bonding, team building, and team development. In short, the three terms exist on a bit of a continuum in terms of depth and impact. Team bonding is the least time consuming and has the lowest long-term impact. Team development, on the other end of the spectrum, takes the most time and has the deepest impact. This does not devalue team bonding, building, or development. But instead it gives teams clarity on what to expect out of their time together and what to expect will result from that intentional work.

Why Build Your Team?

In Miracle Heights Adventures team building, we create an environment where participants collaborate, interact, and build trust with one another. In teams with high levels of trust, you see increased idea sharing, support, and clarity towards common goals. Collaboration within teams leads to increased creativity, innovation, and problem-solving capabilities. These are essential for an organization’s development.

Engaging in activities that empower effective feedback and clarity of communication, teams can develop strong communication abilities. This enables teams to address challenges and resolve conflicts in the moment, and readily share key learnings. Team building provides opportunities for individuals to develop. It affirms them in their leadership abilities and problem-solving skills. Novel team building challenges not only develop individual capabilities, but also contribute to the growth of future leaders within the organization. Strong leadership and problem-solving skills are vital for teams’ current success, and charting where they are going.

A Strategic Investment

Team building is a strategic investment in an organization’s development by starting at the level of greatest power and potential – at the team. Team building creates strong bonds in an organization by fostering collaboration, improving communication, enhancing employee engagement, and building leadership skills. The resulting positive work environment and high morale contribute to increased innovation and capacity to change, ultimately driving organizational development.

If you’re interested in team building or want to discuss more, I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me by email at aflorence@crossnore.org