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Teambuilding Vs Team Bonding

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford

Over the last few years we have noticed that we have been receiving requests that state “ please note this is not a teambuilding trip so do not include any teambuilding activities” and then later on in the same brief we read “we would you like you to offer us a mix of action and adventure, relaxing and fun activities which should be something different

During our in-house brainstorming sessions, we often try to decipher what this actually means. It seems that the terms team building, and team bonding are often used interchangeably. Many people think that team building will involve driving a formula 3 Car around an F1 Track or climbing through a forest on a tree adventure activity. But the truth is, it’s not just all about having fun - that comes under the heading of team bonding. A large part of our work is involved in offering development workshops with measurable outcomes as well as the “adrenaline rush” type of activities that are very popular these days.

Here are the parameters that we have defined in house to determine the difference between the two:

Team Building

Focuses on people´s behaviour and their effect on workplace functionality

Helps build understanding and empathy in the workplace

Has a planned element that can be measured over time

Must have a clear ROI element attached to validate the program

Needs a real understanding of the characters and personalities in the team in order to design a program

Helps people work better in their already existing teams

Involve elements of communication, introspection, organisational behaviour and reflection.

Encourages long-term behaviour change.

Helps people build genuine connections.

Usually leads to further discussion and deeper understanding of each other

Has elements of onsite and offsite interactions

Usually needs a coach or a facilitator to focus the learning elements

Team Bonding

Focuses on fun activities.

Can be an integral part of a team building program

Takes people out of their normal comfort zones

Focuses on new connections being made and existing ones being consolidated

Allows people to connect in a different setting.

Is usually never repeated in the same way twice

The aim is always to positively shock, surprise, impress, and dazzle the participants

Can be used to incentivise or reward the team

Takes place offsite and can be done during the day or night

Encourages people to have fun together

There is generally a need to make each activity better than the last one

The team generally do not know the details of the program

Leave people with the “feel good” factor

My experience is that both approaches are valid and have their strengths, the challenge comes in knowing the difference between the two and understanding what questions need to be asked in order to create the best outcome for all stakeholders.

 Team building is a long-term process that creates behavioural change while team bonding tends to be a short-term, fun experience that improves the mood of the team.

The top companies understand these parameters very well and employ a mixture of the two. An example of this is the work that we have been doing with one of the world´s top business schools IESE where for the last 10 years we have been collaborating to provide in house learning based workshops combined with off-site team bonding activities designed to consolidate the learning.

We have also worked with several companies who have already designed their team building program in their country of origin and need us to design a timetable of team bonding and hospitality packages to compliment the training.

Top Companies do it

HPE, NIKE, KANTAR HEALTH or SEMPRE ANALYTICS (all who have been our clients) are just a random collection of letters, the values and philosophies upon which those letters stand relies heavily on a total commitment to team building and team bonding.

I’ve found that highly successful (and happy) organisations commit to a long-term team building approach that helps people think and behave in ways that benefit them and their work environment. Learning effective team building takes time and effort but it creates lasting success and a company culture that encourages positive behaviours. We take our focus on this area very seriously because we know it works and it helps us create enduring, measurable results.

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