Which Team Building Methods Are the 
Right Choice for My Team?

Team building methods can be grouped into two broad categories:

  1. shared experience and
  2. behaviour change.

How do you know which one to choose?

The effectiveness of your corporate team building program will depend heavily on choosing the right team building method to suit your needs.

The following article helps you understand the relevant team building concepts. It describes how to use this understanding to choose the right team building event for your company.

In summary:

  • if you are looking to solve team challenges that are present or have a goal to get to a higher level of achievement, a Behavior Change event is appropriate. 

  • In other cases, like a convention or annual event, the leader might be looking for a fun reward for participants, so a Shared Experience Event is more appropriate.

The following article provides a lot more useful information on the two team building methods. It was written by Doug Staneart, CEO of the Leaders Institute. Thanks to Doug for letting me share it here.

How to Choose the Right Team Building Event 
for your Company

So the boss comes to you and says,

"We need a company team building event for the annual
meeting coming up. Can you find a few options for us?"

Sounds easy right?

Until you look up “team building event” on Google and get 116,000,000 results. You'll find everything from scavenger hunts to cooking classes to race car driving to fighter pilots to classroom programs. And of course, everyone is counting on you to find a program that doesn't stink. No pressure.

There are a few basics about team building methods that you have to understand to find options that are appropriate to your group.

Keep in mind that most of the people who TEACH corporate team building programs don't know aren't privy to some of the information that I'll share with you below. However, if you keep this information in mind when you select a company team event, you'll have a winner every time.

First, you have to determine what result you are expecting from the event.

There are two main genres of team building. It's real easy to get the two basic team building methods confused, but understanding this key principle is the main key to choosing the correct program.

  1. The most common type of team building program is the "Shared Experience" type of program. The main result from this type of team event is a fun experience where camaraderie is built between participants.
  2. The second type of program is a "Behavior Change" type of program. These are what some people call traditional team building programs and tend to be training events where information and skill development is the focus.

Very few team building organizations are experts at both team building methods, but a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that companies that specialize in behavior change programs tend to also be pretty good at shared experience programs.

However, companies that specialize in shared experience programs tend to not crossover as well to deliver effective training programs. Again, this is a general rule of thumb, but can help in determining if the team building company that you are hiring will do a stellar job.

Team Building Method #1: 
Shared Experience Team Building Programs

Shared experience team events are most appropriate as a way to add entertainment or fun to another type of scheduled event.

For instance, if your group is having a convention or annual meeting, and you are looking for a way add some enthusiasm and fun to the event, then a Shared Experience type of Team Building program will do nicely. These also work well as a reward to your team for accomplishing a goal or as an icebreaker for new teams.

A lot of companies use these types of events for interns or to welcome new members to an established group.

In reality, just about any type of fun activity can provide a shared experience, however, the bigger your group, the more challenging it can be to get a consistent result.

For instance:

  • if you have eight people on a team, you can easily create two foursomes and play golf together or go bowling. 

  • However, if a group of 20 people play golf together, it will become more of a small group shared experience versus a team building event, so it takes an experienced facilitator to deliver an event that keeps everyone involved and having fun throughout the event. 

  • If you have 100 people or 1000 people in your group, the complexity of the shared experience is increased exponentially.

In this case, you'll want to do your research very thoroughly, because one misjudgment or moment of inexperience on the part of the team builders could make your whole event an embarrassment.

Team Building Method #2: Behavior Change Team Building Programs

Behavior change team building programs are quite a bit different.

These events, sometimes referred to as classroom programs, work best in situations where the goals are more results oriented such as if specific challenges have developed within the team or if the group is looking for ways to improve efficiency or productivity.

For instance, if a group has just gone through a merger and the two cultures are being melded together, or if a new goal has been set that is going to require changes to be made within the organization, or any other situation where we want our team to do thing differently than they have in the past.

Behavior change team building programs require a more experienced facilitator, because the ultimate goal of the event is to actually build teamwork, communicate more effectively, or work more efficiently together. Those kinds of behaviors aren't going to manifest themselves by getting your group to compete against each other in a contest or by playing games together.

Instead, you'll want a team building company that specializes in assessing the root causes of the challenges within the organization and who can provide information, training, and exercises to get the participants want to work better with each other.

One of the big myths about behavior change programs is that they aren't as much fun as the shared experience event.

The reality is that folks who attend a really good classroom program will usually feel more of a sense of accomplishment and feel like the time that they spent was well worth it.

The key is making sure that the company that you hire to deliver your program is interactive and fun in their deliver of the program and that the content is appropriate for the results that you are looking for.

If both of those things are true, then you'll get rave reviews from your team after the program.

The Big Mistake that will Guarantee that your Team Event Bombs

Understanding the two different genres of team building methods, here is the thing that you want to be the most careful about…

If you have a group who is experiencing team challenges, 
and you conduct a Shared Experience event to try to fix it, 
you are likely to make it worse.

For instance, if you sects within your group who are antagonistic about other sects within your group, and you force them to team up with each other to compete with other groups, guess what?

It's likely to backfire.

However, if you want to experience the camaraderie of a shared experience program and still get the team building skills developed in a classroom program, I have good news.

You can do both.

Do a behavior change program in the morning, and then use a shared experience program in the afternoon as a laboratory to use the new skills in a controlled environment.

Being smart about team building methods means you get the best of 
both worlds!

Thanks again to Doug Staneart for this article. See The Leaders Institute listing in our team building directory for more information on his North American-based company.

P.S - For more information on how to build great teams, take a look at The Teamwork Ebook by Dr Neil Flanagan.

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