Group of teammates laughing

I’ve shared before that team building has a bit of an image issue, so it tracks that there are a number of popular misconceptions about the subject. When employees are invited to participate in relationship building experiences, Human Resources and Learning & Development professionals need to be prepared to address presumptions and steer their participants in a more positive, evidence-based direction to increase buy-in.

To inspire employee engagement and change the narrative about team building, I’ll share an excerpt from our eBook: Build Exceptional Teams, explaining some of the commonly held stereotypes about bonding and the truths that can replace those beliefs.

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Myth #1 – It’s a waste of time.

Truth: Effective team building is a good use of work time.

Schedules are packed these days, so employees and leaders want to be sure they get value out of the time they spend engaging in activities beyond their job responsibilities. The fact is that 80% of employees and employers believe that creating a sense of community at work is important. Also, 63% of leaders report that communication improved after engaging in team building, and 61% report an increase in morale, which positively impacts employee engagement and retention.

Myth #2 – It doesn’t impact results.

Truth: Investing in relationship-building initiatives produces valuable outcomes.

Sometimes, individuals feel that bonding is too “soft” or that it only supports emotional elements of company culture, such as belonging and engagement. To be clear: those are extremely valuable outcomes in and of themselves. And, for those who may prefer to see bottom-line results, connected departments realize a 20% – 25% increase in productivity and a 31% increase in profitability.

Myth #3 – It’s awkward.

Truth: Well-designed experiences encourage growth without significant discomfort.

The expectation of awkwardness often stems from a previous circumstance where a person felt stretched well beyond their comfort zone. Psychological research has shown that in order to learn, grow or adjust behaviors, people need to expand their horizons. However, they cannot be pushed so far that they shut down. Well-executed team building strikes that balance where individuals are pushed just enough that they open themselves up to new perspectives yet not so far that they feel the need to withdraw.

Myth #4 – It must include a big to-do or event.

Truth: Small activities can be just as valuable as large experiences.

When many people imagine morale-boosting initiatives, they often picture full-day on-site or virtual gatherings or weekend retreats that take up a lot of time. While these initiatives can be productive, team building can occur in short bursts as that is an effective way for people to retain information and remain attentive to one another. Be mindful to introduce short, day-to-day actions like simple check-in questions or water cooler / chat channel talk to increase connection.

Myth #5 – It only happens once.

Truth: Consistent team building achieves results.

One-time events rarely (read: never) result in the sort of systemic change that people usually want to see when they invest in pursuits designed to increase performance and cooperation. And how could it when you consider the Forgetting Curve? To learn how to effectively collaborate and connect with a team, repetition is required to realize results.

Myth #6 – It results in total harmony.

Truth: Team development empowers individuals to be their authentic, diverse selves.

The goal of bonding is not to remove any differences from the groups participating in it. The objective is to help them use their strengths and differences to work cooperatively. Research from Ignite80 demonstrates that high-performing cohorts are more willing to openly express themselves, including positive and negative emotions as well as disagreements. Achieving a high level of authenticity requires participants to develop strong ties, so they trust each other enough to be honest and engage in productive conflict.

Bonus Myth #7 – Every bonding experience is the same.

Truth: Activities that consider a holistic approach are more likely to engage all minds.

While this myth was not shared in our eBook, it’s important to note that some relationship building initiatives may lead to better outcomes than others, and some may be more enjoyable for certain work styles than others. People prefer to engage, interact and learn in a multitude of ways, so it’s essential to make sure experiences honor different Thinking and Behavioral preferences. One way to do that is to use the Emergenetics Attributes to inspire your approach.

Well-planned team building has the potential to transform how people interact and engage with one another. By addressing negative perceptions and creating experiences that honor the needs and interests of employees, L&D and HR professionals will empower teams to unlock better ways to collaborate, communicate and perform.

Interested in strengthening team development in your organization? Explore our eBook or fill out the form below to speak with one of our staff members today.

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