Team building

The term team-building can refer generally to the selection and motivation of teams, or more specifically to group self-assessment in the theory and practice of Organizational development (OD).


Generic team-building

"Team building" (or "teambuilding") can refer to the process of establishing specific groups to accomplish certain tasks in a sports club or some sort of organization. Ingredients seen as important to the successful set-up and launch of such team efforts include:

  • selection
  • establishing visions, goals, missions and/or objectives
  • distribution of workload
  • timetabling
  • balancing skill-sets
  • metrics
  • harmonising personality types
  • training on how to work together

The morale of the team, an important variable, may depend on such factors as:

  • support
  • resources
  • communication
  • personalities

As team performance reflects on management, managers -- and even coaches -- sometimes feel the need to take part in constructing and fostering teams.

As with many activities, team-building can run to extremes. For a notorious recent example of team building run amok, see the case of Kamp Staaldraad in 2003.

Need for team-building

Modern society and culture continues to become more fluid and dynamic. Factors contributing to this include the communications revolution, the global market and the ever-increasing specialization and division of labor. The net effect is that individuals are now required to move between working with many different groups of people in their working and also personal lives. Joining a new group and immediately being expected to get along with them is somewhat unnatual - historically humans have evolved to work and life in close-knit, static societies. Hence the sudden need for methods to help people adapt to the new requirements. All kinds of people, from investment bankers to catering staff and session musicians, face the same difficulties. As yet there is no generally agreed solution to the problem - it may not even be possible given thr thousands of years of cultural evolution that brought us to our present behavior patterns.

Team-building in Organizational development

Whenever a team in an OD context embarks upon a process of self-assessment in order to gauge its own effectiveness and thereby improve performance, it engages in team building.

Assessing team effectiveness

To assess itself, a team seeks feedback to find out both:

  • its current strengths as a team
  • its current weaknesses

Improving team performance

To improve its current performance, a team uses the feedback from the team assessment in order to:

  • identify any gap between the desired state and the actual state
  • design any gap-closure strategy

See also

External links

  • So You Wanna Be a Playa: Cooperative Games for Social Change ( - A free booklet of activities for teambuilding, problemsolving, and more.
  • The Nasa Exercise: Lost on the Moon ( - On-line version of a widely used team-building exercise for measuring team processes.
  • Developing Teamwork - A DVD-video based team building ( package designed for organisations wishing to improve the effective use of the intellectual resource of their people. Available for review online free of charge.

Off-line reference material

  • William G. Dyer, Team building: Current Issues and New Alternatives (3rd Edition). Pearson Education POD, 1995. ISBN 0201628821.

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