Team bonding and team building are two equally important aspects of a well-functioning team. And the good news is that both are easy to achieve.
Team Building – A misunderstood concept
Team building has served as a “go-to” term for the last few decades, especially in the previous several years, where organisations invest even more resources to create collaborative and efficient teams. The characteristic “to be a team player” is more and more sought by companies because today, one of the main goals is to be efficient through teamwork.
High-performing teams look for talented candidates who feel more comfortable working with others rather than working on their own. Also, HR professionals view team building as the backbone of a productive and fulfilled team. Team building has been gaining popularity for many reasons. However, despite it being so overused and discussed, people often misunderstand the term’s exact meaning. Moreover, there are still teams that perceive the term just as a buzzword tossed around to make them feel more encouraged and motivated, but not as an efficient method to enhance their team.
Team building is usually defined as a ‘special event or time spent to strategise and plan, play some games together, or go for a karaoke night’.
It looks like a lot of different objectives jammed into one category, doesn’t it?
If we break down the definition above into two parts, we can see that:
- Learning, strategising, and planning objectives are part of a team-building process.
- The entertainment part characterised by a simple karaoke night is called team bonding.
This does not mean that team building does not contribute to team building or that team building cannot be fun. You just have to develop a perception of the difference between the two concepts.
Notice the one objective called ‘communication’ in the definition above. Where should we put it – in team-building or team bonding? This objective is what connects the two processes and makes them co-related and both equally valuable. Both team building and team bonding are of extreme importance when aiming at highly aligned performing teams with shared vision and goals. Let’s explore why.
Team Bonding – “Let’s Have Fun Together”
As a manager, you realise that your team will not stay and work efficiently together just because they are part of the same company, right? To create a cohesive team, each team member must develop their relationship with one another. This means creating a shared experience with your peers and getting to know their personalities outside of work.
Team bonding often seems like an unnecessary use of time. Sometimes team members are either brand new to the company, so they feel insecure about organising a “go-out night” or are too overwhelmed with their work and just want to get over it and go home.
As a team leader and as a team member, you should never underestimate team bonding value. You are the one who should organise an event or just a simple dinner out of your workplace.
A 2015 Gallup study shows that a highly engaged leadership team can boost employee engagement by up to 39%.
If you do not give your team a chance to bond, you will probably spend more time and effort in handling conflicts and workplace unneeded “drama” instead of getting tasks done and improving processes. Do not miss out on the powerful benefits you can derive from team bonding because you will miss enhancing productivity and retention within your team.
Research has shown that having a good friend at work can boost one’s engagement level by up to 50%. This is because team bonding activities encourage cooperation and communication outside of the office and, as an effect, strengthening bonds and collaboration in the workplace.
Still, why is it so important to create a bond with your colleagues?
54% of employees say a strong sense of community (great coworkers, celebrating milestones, a common mission) kept them at a company longer than was in their best interest.
The sense of a cohesive community could be achieved only by building relationships with others. How are you going to build a relationship with someone that you do not know? Here comes the role of team bonding activities.
50% of the positive changes in communication patterns within the workplace can be accredited to social interaction outside of the workplace.
Imagine a simple karaoke night with your team. This is the perfect setting where you can get to know your colleague as your workplace peer and as a potential friend. Often people feel freer to share personal values and stories outside of work. Hence, this is how you will become familiar with their characteristics, preferences, ways of living, strengths and weaknesses, etc. It is a fun activity that can help team members see each other differently.
In summary, team bonding is essential to create a cohesive and high performing team because of several reasons:
- Encourages informal and more personal communication to build relationships.
- Creates shared experiences – important for team alignment and shared vision.
- Team players are motivated to work and achieve goals if they have a great team.
- Having a friend at work increases satisfaction and performance.
- Positive experience builds relationships and reduces conflicts.
- Fosters trust, respect, empathy, and recognition.
- Teams feel acknowledged and appreciated.
- Support the feeling of belonging.
- Socialise in a different environment with your team.
- Reducing and even eliminating personal barriers and biases.
Team Building – “Let’s Learn Something New Together”
As with team bonding, team building activities also bring teammates closer together, encouraging communication and fair collaboration. Both concepts are similar when it comes to the goal of the formation of a group of people. However, building a team is not only connected to doing something fun together outside the workplace, as it is for team bonding.
Team building activities are more focused on fostering soft and hard skills of your team, such as:
- Planning and strategising
- Cause-effect abilities
- Creativity and deeper discussions.
In other words, team building aims to bring people together to interact on various topics to improve their ability to work as a team.
Managers tend to organise team buildings once or twice a year because they feel the need to align their teams and make their working processes go smoothly. Team buildings can create positive work dynamics that allow the achievement of the team’s objectives without losing sight of all team members’ satisfaction and motivation.
Those kinds of activities create the so-called team spirit and integration, which lead to greater respect between the team members, respect, mutual listening, and recognition.
Team Building Pays Back
You should never think of team building as a splurge – it is a valuable investment that will pay bacк. If team members have the chance to do something together outside the workplace, they will eventually start to communicate and collaborate with their peers on a more efficient level. The chances of them becoming friends or at least to know each other closer are very high.
If people feel good in their teams and the working processes go smoothly because of the strong interaction and mutual understanding, they will not leave this team. Therefore, retention rates will drastically decrease, while employee satisfaction and productivity will increase.
If you do not believe in the benefits and the return on investment that a team building can bring you, interview your team members anonymously before and after a team-building event. Set your goals before the team building and check if you have achieved some of them. Most probably, the increased synergy and collaboration in your team will be visible enough so as not to conduct this interview.
HR professionals can easily make such benchmarks between a team before team building activity and the same one after such. HR managers are strictly supporting team building because they have seen numerous times its effect. Members are opening the office door happier for no reason other than they had a great time, got to know their colleagues, and satisfied working with them.
In summary, “why team building is crucial to create a cohesive and high-performing team?”:
- Foster communication, collaboration, and overall team integration.
- Creates a team spirit and boosts morale.
- Positively influence team members’ satisfaction, as they feel appreciated, acknowledged, and belonged to a good team.
- Thinking and working towards the same goals creates aligned teams and shared visions.
- It is an investment in the future of your team’s performance.
- You have an actual chance to improve some skills and gain more useful knowledge.
- Fuels the sense of belonging, hence trust and reliability.
Communication – makes or breaks a relationship
There is a special element – communication – that could relate to both team-building processes and team bonding ones. This is because communication is the foundation of key success factors as trust, collaboration, engagement, satisfaction, motivation, and performance.
HR professionals are aware of the very popular equation – Performance is equal to Motivation times Abilities. If we lack one of the elements, we will not get the desired result. Let us assume that the team member you once recruited has the needed abilities and competencies to achieve outstanding performance. What about the motivation element?
Internal communication within the team directly affects the state of each member. If there is an honest communication flow between peers, their level of satisfaction increases. First, because people like to share their opinion and to receive other’s ideas and recognition. Once a member feels satisfied because he/she finds it easy to communicate with their colleagues, the motivation to continue working and performing with this team increases.
86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.
Thus said, effective communication means knowing not only how to send a message and reach your peers but also how to receive it and provide necessary feedback. One way to understand relationships in your organisation is to look at the frequency and quality of collaboration. In highly collaborative organisations, team members analyse and solve problems together. So, here is where communication jumps into the team building category – once communication is on the right level, collaboration is enhanced, and employees could efficiently work on a project together. A variety of projects could be presented during team-building activities.
Past studies show that employees are more productive, have more motivation, and are more likely to persevere through challenges when they work with others on a task.
There is a certain level of accountability and energy that comes from working with others that you cannot get working alone. But collaboration does not come easily to everyone. It requires a culture of openness, honesty, feedback, and teamwork. People feel freer to share and tell personal stories outside of work because it is a more relaxed and duty-free environment. So, this openness and honesty could be achieved through team bonding activities, like the karaoke night we give as an example throughout the whole article.
Did you get the idea of how communication aligns both team building and bonding?
Communication has always served as a glue to bring us together or to achieve goals by doing certain activities. In our case, communication is the key factor playing during the karaoke night (team bonding) and the problem-solving quiz (team building).
Over 85% of all workplace failures have been attributed to a lack of collaboration and/or ineffective communication. Additionally, a recent survey revealed that fewer than 50% of employees believe that their organisation discusses issues in a truthful, effective manner.
So, Team Building or Team Bonding?
Which comes first?
There is not a single right answer – both are co-related and dependable on each other. One of the main goals is to gather people into one cohesive group so they can work as an efficient satisfied team. If there are no bonds created, team-building activities may not significantly impact the performance afterwards.
Point of view #1: Team bonding should happen before team building
Why? The communication and collaboration processes will go more smoothly if you better know your peers outside of work.
KissTheFrogNOW PoV: This might be true, but we prefer to say that team bonding must be included in the team-building processes. Based on your company, your specific team, your goals, and common needs, values, and vision, you should choose how to handle both. Just keep in mind that they are equally valuable.
On the other hand, team building is not necessarily a successful one if you just implement and follow all the recommended by popular companies’ activities, such as the:
- Focus groups;
- Wide discussions;
- Psychology tests.
It can always be created around a single wooden box. Playing with KissTheFrogNOW Illustrations or PersonalQuestions deck reminds me of dinner outside of work or the karaoke night. You can ask and answer questions not strictly related to your job, which creates a different setting, and the results achieved are similar.
On the other hand, if you want to combine it with more strategic purposes to improve the team’s skills and competencies, you can use the Discussions or the Problem-Solving decks enhancing abilities as analysis, correlations, building arguments with evidence.
Combine both and achieve a higher ROI
Think about constructing a building. A decent strong structure will never be such without each construction block perfectly bonding and aligning with the next one to keep the construction stable, tall, and successfully built.
The same is with building a team – members will never stay strong and motivated together if they do not have the chance to develop their relationship. So, bond before building or build while bonding is possible answers here – depending on your team building objectives.
You can combine them with KissTheFrogNOW. At one moment, you are playing different entertaining team bonding games, which create a stress-free atmosphere and allow you to break the ice and form relationships with those around you – namely creating bonds. At the same time, by choosing to pick others more strategically targeted team-building activities, you can extend the bonding into the building process. So, at the end of the day, you may get the best of both worlds.
The True ROI of Team Bonding Time: A case for even the most practical leaders, https://ceoworld.biz/
21 Collaboration Statistics that Show the Power of Teamwork, https://blog.bit.ai/