According to Jon Katzenbach, author of The Wisdom of Teams, effective teamwork measurably improves an organization’s success. Encouraging collaboration can improve interpersonal relationships and reduce conflicts and distractions.

The American Management Associationstates that team building activities are designed to foster trust. Communication, a commitment to a goal, and a willingness to help others in achieving that goal are required. Inherent in team success is an understanding of different personalities and backgrounds. Every individual brings specific skills and talents. An appreciation for unique perspectives is integral to a team dynamic.

Team building exercises, if done right, forces individuals to listen to others and to realize that each person can contribute in some way. One person may act as a leader and organize the direction of the whole (an MBA-type, for example) and another may quietly work independently on a detailed design or code (an engineer or programmer, for example). Each member’s contribution is crucial. This realization is the key to successful teamwork.

Pamela Kruger of the Build Network offers some team building exercises that might bring the point home.

  • Activities that provide a level of humor or light-heartedness can be effective. Kruger references a hula hoop contest hosted by one company; however, this might not appeal to the introvert. A treasure hunt or “geocaching” contest calls upon the knowledge of cerebral group members, whereas physical challenges use the skills of the more athletic individuals. Combining the two is ideal.
  • One computer gaming company challenged teams to create a post-it note mural on office windows. This initiated a competition with other firms who tried to out-do the original company. Although it was quickly nixed by facility management, it turned out to be an effective team building activity.
  • Another suggestion from Kruger is giving employees a day off to spend with anyone of the employee’s choice. An employee may choose to spend the day with a police officer for example, and then share what they have learned with colleagues.

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