Aug 24, 2023 | 3
Minute Read

Avoid These Team Building Pitfalls for a Stronger, More Connected Team

how to steer clear of mistakes in team-building

Team building is a crucial part of establishing connections in your organization, but it’s easy to make mistakes when it comes to planning out. Many companies throw together an event and call it good, considering their teams are sufficiently bonded, but that’s not the case. Here is what you absolutely should not do when developing team building and a few positive ways to move forward instead.


Don’t Schedule On Weekends Or After Work 

Asking people to give up their free time without pay is an immediate morale detractor. The occasional office happy hour can be fine, but it shouldn’t be used as an active component of your team-building strategy. (You should also avoid focusing team building around alcohol!) 

Expecting employees to give up their free time for a company activity, even if it's supposed to be fun, will not create comradery. 


Don’t Surprise People With Unplanned Or Non-Optional Offerings 

Surprise team-building events can disrupt personal schedules and create stress, making participants feel excluded or resentful. This depends on the scale; surprising employees in training with a catered lunch is not the same as springing a last-minute company trip. 

Many people feel pressured to participate in team building, but that’s unfair if they are scheduled outside of work. Ensure that leaders aren’t giving preferential treatment to people who participate after hours, and avoid the issue altogether by scheduling team building during working hours. 


Don’t Try To Disguise Work As Fun 

If you’re pitching an event as something fun and social, the last thing you want to do is try sneak work tasks in. Being dishonest during events that are supposed to foster goodwill will cause disengagement and an expensive erosion of trust. 

Introducing competitive team challenges or games with the intention of using the outcomes to determine work-related assignments or promotions is irresponsible and unwise. So is encouraging competition between team members when it comes to work tasks. Your team will leave the “team building exercise” feeling defensive and combative, the exact opposite of what you should be aiming for. 


Avoid Overt Physical Activity 

Avoid hiking, camping, or strenuous or dangerous activity. You never know the health situation or limitations of your team and don’t want to push or force someone to disclose health conditions or their disability status. Many people might be uncomfortable with any remote activities and may feel trapped by any traveling. 

A classic but disastrous team-building exercise is the trust fall, an activity where one team member falls backward, and others catch them. This activity can lead to accidents and injuries if not executed properly, which will foster a negative environment of fear and discomfort rather than building trust. Don’t put your employees at risk or open your company up to legal trouble because of injury. 


How Can You Develop Effective Team Building For Your Organization? 
Find Out What the Team Wants 

The very first step of determining a team-building strategy is to find out what your team wants. If they’re interested in being friends outside of work or they’d prefer an afternoon off instead of a team-building exercise, you need to know and set expectations accordingly. 

Getting this information can be as simple as sending out a Google Form asking for times, preferences, and choices of activities. If you’re not getting enthusiastic responses or responses at all, you might have a culture problem to address. 

Schedule team building During Work 

If you’re asking your employees to do something for work, you need to make sure that they are being paid. It’s as simple as that. Friday afternoons and extended lunches are usually well-received. Check in with the people you hope to have in attendance and ensure that the scheduling won’t cause issues for them or make their workloads less manageable. 

Offer Time Off Instead 

Finally, you might find the morale boost you’re looking for in the form of offering time off. It might seem less fun to leaders, but to stressed-out employees, a free afternoon might be exactly what they need to recharge and re-engage. The time blocked off for team building should not be used for work in any way; don’t make employees who opt out stick to their regular schedule. 


Making A Team The Right Way 

When considering team building, it’s crucial to tread carefully and choose each activity with intention. Leaders cannot assume positive results, regardless of their intent, and need to tailor the activities to their workers’ needs and preferences, not the other way around.

By avoiding mishaps like forcing participation, unwelcome surprises, assumptive scheduling, and events that push physical activity, organizations can protect the integrity of their team dynamics and ensure that their efforts yield positive and helpful results. 

Are you looking to build your team with assessments? We can help. 

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Jaime Faulkner