Over the last 25 years one particular aspect of corporate life has gone from hero to zero and back again – team building. What started off as a concept with merit then became the subject of ridicule, as ‘team building exercises’ became ever more detached from the reality of what needed to be achieved in the real world of work. Could kayaking in Wales really be considered to be a ‘team building exercise’ or an expensive weekend jaunt that eats into company profits? While they might have been great fun, all that these weekend adventures often did was clarify the psychological profiles of various team members, from extroverts always at the front of everything to introverts who really didn’t want to be wading around in a freezing cold stream when they could be working.

Today team building exercises like this, in all honesty, probably wouldn’t be regarded by your clients as a worthwhile use of company funds either. This self-indulgent approach to team building has lost a lot of its appeal, particularly during a period where any demonstration of corporate excess could be potentially very damaging to your company’s reputation.

Business-Focussed And Relevant

Today, team building has emerged from its hedonistic recent past and has become much more business-focussed, and one of the best ways to strengthen the bonds within a team is through relevant training.

That doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun – but its primary purpose should be to give people the skills they need to do their job to the best of their ability (which probably doesn’t include an ability to kayak!). Team building is now approached in a different and more thoughtful way – a way that ensures that everyone goes away with not just a greater sense of team unity, but also a tangible set of skills that can be applied to the working environment. This form of team building is more sustainable and with far more long-term benefits than a weekend jolly to Wales! And it also has a more positive effect on the individual members of a team for a number of reasons:

• Team building through training is more inclusive, so everyone within the team benefits
• It’s applicable for both new and more experienced of the team
• It consolidates the skills set within the team, allowing them to work as a more focussed and cohesive unit
• It demonstrates your willingness to invest in the long-term future of each of your team members, creating a greater sense of loyalty and self-worth
• It also demonstrates to your clients that you are investing in your team, and that they are getting the most up to date and relevant information, which will in turn improve the service to the client.

Training, whether it’s in-house or off-site, can work as a highly effective method of team building. Although it’s usually regarded as a chance to brush up on skills and learn new techniques, it’s also an opportunity for a group of people who spend every working day together to get to know each other in a little more detail.

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