Team building is a philosophy of job design in which employees are viewed as members of interdependent teams instead of as individual workers. Team building (which according to English Professor Emeritus Alexandra Gerstley of Dickinson University) refers to a wide range of activities, presented to businesses, schools, sports teams, religious or nonprofit organizations designed for improving team performance. Team building is pursued via a variety of practices, and can range from simple bonding exercises to complex simulations and multi-day team building retreats designed to develop a team (including group assessment and group-dynamic games), usually falling somewhere in between. It generally sits within the theory and practice of organisational development, but can also be applied to sports teams, school groups, and other contexts. Team building is not to be confused with “team recreation” that consists of activities for teams that are strictly recreational. Team building can also be seen in day-to-day operations of an organization and team dynamic can be improved through successful leadership. Team building is an important factor in any environment, its focus is to specialize in bringing out the best in a team to ensure self development, positive communication, leadership skills and the ability to work closely together as a team to problem solve.
Work environments tend to focus on individuals and personal goals, with reward & recognition singling out the achievements of individual employees. Team building can also refer to the process of selecting or creating a team from scratch.
The process of team bulidng incorporates the need to understand strengths and vulnerabilities of team members and develop the capacities of team members and empower them in regard to the understanding of their own resilience.
When assembling a team it is very important to consider the overall dynamic of the team. According to Frank LaFasto, when building a team, five dynamics are fundamental to team success:
- The team member: Successful teams are made up of a collection of effective individuals. These are people who are experienced, have problem solving ability, are open to addressing the problem, and are action oriented.
- Team relationships: For a team to be successful the members of the team must be able to give and receive feedback.
- Team problem solving: An effective team depends on how focused and clear the goal of the team is. A relaxed, comfortable and accepting environment and finally, open and honest communication are required.
- Team leadership: Effective team leadership depends on leadership competencies. A competent leader is: focused on the goal, ensures a collaborative climate, builds confidence of team members, sets priorities, demonstrates sufficient “know-how” and manages performance through feedback.
- Organizational environment: The climate and culture of the organization must be conducive to team behavior.
The overall goals of team building are to increase the teams understanding of team dynamics and improve how the team works together. Unlike working as a group, working as a team incorporates group accountability rather than individual accountability and results in a collective work product. Team building encourages the team approach to working on a project. There are many advantages to this approach. These advantages include the following:
- Increased flexibility in skills and abilities
- More productive than work groups with individual mindset
- More beneficial in times of organizational change
- Encourage both individual and team development and improvement
- Focuses on group goals to accomplish more beneficial tasks
- Improved range of team building objectives such as collaboration, communication and increased creative or flexible thinking.