What Is Team Building? (Why It's Important and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 11, 2022 | Published September 7, 2021

Updated October 11, 2022

Published September 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many leaders use team-building exercises to encourage employee morale, improve company culture and produce more effective results. Team-building involves developing the relationships among team members to improve work culture and ethics. Understanding what team-building is can help you develop your team and learn how to be a better team member. In this article, we answer the question "What is team building?", explore why it's important, highlight the stages of team-building and examine how to build your team.

What is team building?

Team building is an essential process for every team, regardless of individual abilities. Team building involves designing exercises, tasks and systems to promote collaboration among team members and encourage productivity. Teams that undergo team-building exercises work better together and form long-lasting relationships.

Related: 9 Team-Building Skills and Why They're Important (With Tips)

Why is team building important?

Here are some reasons team building is essential for any team:

Builds trust

Team-building activities bring team members closer and encourage them to get to know each other better. By completing tasks together, team members build trust and understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses. When there's trust, team members are more likely to share ideas, reach compromises and accomplish tasks. Trust also allows team members to be more open with their strengths and weaknesses, leading to professional growth.

Related: How to Build Trust at Work and Improve Team Cohesion

Encourages collaboration

Discovering more about team members' strengths and skills encourages employees to collaborate more and share ideas. When team members collaborate, they're more likely to deliver more quality results in less time. While engaging in team-building exercises, team members observe each other's working styles, boundaries, and preferences. This allows for a smoother working relationship.

Related: Promoting Collaboration in the Workplace: All You Need to Know

Fosters open communication

While engaging in team-building exercises, team members get to know themselves personally and feel safer and more comfortable around each other. These exercises also encourage team members to speak up and share their opinions. This creates an environment where team members share their ideas, feedback, and criticisms. Team-building exercises that encourage open communication and constructive criticism help team members know they can share their insights.

Related: A Guide to Effective Group Communication (With Tips)

Reduces the occurrence of conflict

People on a team may encounter conflict. What separates a quality team from a poor team is how team members approach the conflict and learn from it. Team-building exercises train team members to express their displeasure politely and treat their colleagues with respect. This means that even when conflict occurs, the damage is minimal since team members have learned to manage their emotions properly. As they engage in team-building, team members learn to respect each other's differences, which leads to more cohesiveness.

Related: How to Resolve Conflict in the Workplace (With Strategies)

Boosts productivity

When team members go through team-building, they learn how to work better with each other. Team members understand how their roles intersect with the roles of their colleagues. They also understand how their colleagues work, which allows for a smoother working relationship. This increases workplace productivity.

Stages of team building

A psychologist named Bruce Tuckman developed five stages of team building, which are:

1. The forming stage

This stage refers to when teammates start working together. You can compare this to your first day at work or school. In this stage, team members are still conscious of each other and have yet to adjust to their environment. Many team members can be shy, nervous, or quite polite. At this stage, the team leader needs to direct the team and establish goals, objectives, and rules. Team members can also get to know some information about each other to help them settle. It's unlikely for workers to achieve much during this period.

Related Examples of Team-Building Activities to Unify Your Team

2. The storming stage

At this stage, team members start to experience conflict with each other. They are likely to assert themselves individually. As they're unfamiliar with each other's behaviours, boundaries, and preferences, this can lead to disputes. Many team members can become apathetic towards team goals due to the conflict. This can influence other team members and lead to general inactivity. While this stage is challenging, team members need to work through it and resolve the conflicts together. Doing so can help strengthen the team's bond.

Related: Tips to Implement Team Empowerment in the Workplace

3. The norming stage

At this stage, team members have started to become accustomed to each other. The conflicts from the storming stage have led to compromise, and team members now understand and respect each other's boundaries and working styles. Team members recognize and acknowledge the strengths of each other and adapt their working styles to promote harmony. Teams in this stage accomplish tasks quickly and move on to new ones. Collaboration and the exchange of constructive criticism are common at this stage.

It's possible that new tasks can lead to new challenges that can cause the team's regression to the storming stage. This is normal, and it's likely team members will resolve their issues faster and more effectively due to the knowledge and skills they gained from the previous storming phase.

4. The performing stage

At this stage, the team operates at full capacity. Team members understand each other and have a reliable working system. Team roles can become intertwined as team members collaborate more on tasks. While collaboration is great, you need to maintain a solid structure. At this stage, the team is likely to achieve its best results.

5. The adjourning phase

This stage refers to the fact that most teams are temporary and dissolve once they have achieved their goal. Team members may anticipate missing each other after the project is over. Having a sense of closure is important during this final stage.

How to build a team

You can follow these steps to build your team:

1. Clarify team goals and objectives

Clarifying the team's goals can help team members understand the purpose and goals of the team. It can also help team members understand the significance of their individual roles in achieving the general objective. This can give your team members a sense of importance and motivate them.

2. Define the roles of team members

This step is important because it promotes accountability and helps employees maintain a manageable workflow. It also improves harmony in the workplace, as coworkers can be mindful of each other's preferences. When you define team roles, it's also important to define each individual's goals. It helps to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) and create timelines for your team members to complete tasks. This makes it easier to monitor individual progress.

3. Define the leadership structure

To build an effective team, you need to have a clear leadership structure. Observe your team members and use the leadership style you think is most effective. For example, you can divide the teams into groups and appoint group leaders who report to you. You can also opt to create a team of executives who oversee the rest of the team. Defining the leadership structure promotes stability, which is crucial for progress.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

4. Encourage open communication

Members of your team need to feel safe to share their views and contribute to solving problems openly. Encouraging open communication can lead to more quality ideas and involvement from team members. To promote open communication, encourage team members to ask questions and take time to answer them. As the team leader, you also need to respond positively to criticism to show your team members that they can speak freely.

5. Encourage diversity and inclusiveness

Embracing diversity in your team can lead to new perspectives and insights on issues. This can translate to better ideas and more productivity. Encourage diversity by recognizing minorities within your team and asking them to share their insights. Use inclusive language to make all team members feel part of the process.

6. Organize team-building activities

You can organize various activities to bring team members together and encourage them to collaborate and get to know each other. These activities can range from office retreats to dinner parties or indoor games. Bringing team members together in an informal setting can help them relax and learn more about their colleagues. This helps build a bond among team members, which leads to a healthier working relationship. You can also organize facilitation sessions to build soft skills and encourage teamwork.

7. Perform joint projects/tasks

Organizing joint projects encourages team members to work together. While this might be challenging at first, it's an essential step to help team members understand each other. Joint projects allow team members to familiarize themselves with each other's working styles and boundaries. It also makes it easier for team members to recognize each other's skills and talents.

8. Evaluate your progress

It's important you continuously evaluate your team and monitor their progress. Pay attention to how well your team members are achieving their goals, how often they experience conflict, and how effective they are during collaborations. If you notice issues persist, you can revise your strategy and try another approach.

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