Team building initiatives fail because of unclear objectives, and playing games that destroy collaboration and teamwork.

R&R is necessary. But it is wrong to call it a team-building activity. I will explain why in this article.

Why Team Building Often Fail

Team games are played by competing teams. The objective of a team game is to find out the best or strongest team. Team games is survival of the fittest. It is honoring one winning team and ignoring the many losers. It is a win-lose model

Roger and Marie probably didn’t know this.


Roger, a manager of an IT company, requested a quotation for a team building facilitation.

I wanted to know the purpose of their upcoming team building so I invited him to a Skype conversation. He said that team building in their company is a yearly activity.

That is the only reason. They wanted someone who can set up parlor games to keep the group busy.


A training manager of a medical facility in Batangas, Marie phoned me the other day requesting for a quotation.

Fifty of their employees, including doctors and nurses, must attend a team building activity for ISO compliance.

I asked for the objectives. She told me that there was none aside from ISO compliance.

Roger and Marie belong to the eighty percent of people who wanted “basic team building”. Basic team building to them is playing team games. Playing Team games gives them opportunities to forget about work. They think by involving teams in a highly competitive activity, they can build teamwork.

They are wrong.

Because they played the wrong games.

Time, money, and opportunities are wasted on team-building initiatives that have gone wrong. The managers only wanted the best for their people. They offered team building as an opportunity to build teams.

And it is not their fault if they only play team games.

Many team-building facilitators only offer team games. Because just like the managers, they are clueless too.

Wise managers know that team building is beyond playing team games. It is one of the best interventions for creative, collaborative, confident, and competent employees.

Team building is a learning experience better than seminars and workshops. The games help create an emotional experience that make learning stick. However, when the objectives are not clear, it does not matter what games are played.

Team building initiatives fail because of unclear objectives, and playing games that destroy collaboration and teamwork.

How to Make Team Building Succeed

Of course, you are not here only because you want to know why team-building initiatives fail. You want to make your team learn how to succeed through team building.

But allow me to make quick definitions first. I promise clarity can help us do the right action.

What is team building?

Team building is a learning experience that helps build the team so that they’ll be able to achieve their business objectives. Yes, it is still about work. Team building is about learning how to work better as a team.

What are team-building activities?

Team building activities are games and exercises facilitators use to help teams learn solutions to team problems and challenges. Team building activities are learning tools to help teams become perform better.

Only twenty percent of the managers who hire team building facilitators know the business objectives of their team building exercises. They are investing in something that will improve their ability to deliver.

The Main Objective of Team Building

The objective of team-building games is not to find out which team is the best, or the champion. The objective is to build a better team.

For example, if the team has trust issues, I use team-building experiences that help the teams assess how they trust each other, zero in on the causes of mistrust, and together find solutions to their problems.

I will design games that demonstrate the value of trust. All teams may fail in this game if they don’t trust each other. All teams may win if they trust each other. The game is a shared experience in a friendly and safe environment. They can talk about this experience in a learning session. I may have a game or two plus debriefing exercises.

I won’t play Trust Fall or bull sessions. Both of these activities don’t build teams. Trust Fall is dangerous to mental health.

Bull Sessions, on the other hand, are different experiences often not shared by participants. The objective is not to learn but to make the other person feel bad.

Team building activities are designed for win-win and learning. Team building activities stimulate discussions on problems and help participants generate solutions in a safe, friendly, and trusting environment.

Help the team win-win.

In team building, we help the teams solve their problems. They will also learn how to solve problems of the same nature in the future. We provide them with tools or processes they can use. Learning is the first win.

We help teams perform better. In team building, members can discover new attitudes and mindsets. We can also help them develop new team skills like problem-solving, delegation, decision-making, generating ideas, and taking accountability. Team leaders learn how to drive results. Better performance is the second win.

Spend your team building money wisely. Think about your objectives. Get the best team-building experience. And when necessary, find a team-building facilitator who can guide you.

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About The Author

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Build Teams

Build teams the right way. Help team leaders solve problems and create opportunities. Equip them with skills so they can make it easy for teams to win, win, and win.

Jef Menguin

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