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What is "team building"?

This page follows our article that defines what a team is and gives you an introduction to the process of team building. If a team is a group of people working towards a common goal, then:

At this website:

Assess your team
An online questionnaire to identify blockages to good teamwork

Corporate Events
How to get good value from large offsite awaydays

Team Dynamics
What "dynamics" are and how they affect teamwork

Performance Management
A system for teams

Employee Satisfaction
An online-survey case study

A team role poster or screen saver

Team Building Activities
Ideas for improving relationships/teamwork

Team Building Compendium
A wide range of articles and resources

Outdoor Ideas
Ideas for things to do in the fresh air.

Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing

Cultural Change
Improving teamwork across the organisation

Team Role Theory
An in depth view of how teams work

Work/life balance
Achieve success and happiness at the same time

Team Performance Management
A more scientific approach to improving teamwork

Assess your team
An online questionnaire to identify blockages to good teamwork

Corporate Events
How to get good value from large offsite awaydays

Team Dynamics
What "dynamics" are and how they affect teamwork

team building

'Team Building' is the process of motivating and enabling that group of people to reach their goal.

Therefore, Team Building is not just an event (though events can play a part), nor is it something that can be 'done' by someone outside the team (though outside consultants can help). It is a task primarily for the team manager and the team members themselves.

In its simplest terms, the stages involved in team building are:

  • To clarify the team goals
  • To build ownership and commitment to those goals across the team
  • To identify those issues which inhibit the team from reaching their goals
  • To address those issues, remove the inhibitors and thereby enable the goals to be achieved

This process addresses the two main components of team performance:

motivation and capability

Problems of Scale

Team building can take a different form depending on the size and nature of the team.

Better teamwork is achieved through dealing with: individuals, small teams, team islands and the organisation.


In a project environment, where team composition is continually changing, the emphasis must be on selecting people who are self-starters and developing the skills in individuals to become effective team members very quickly. The 'scale' involved is 1 person, and the team building consultant or trainer is endeavouring to change the skills and abilities of the individual at operating within a team (or within multiple teams).

Small Teams

In teams where membership is static - typically in management teams - the motivational challenge is to align the drive of the disparate individuals around the same goals. There can be many inhibitors to performance - eg: personality, dynamics, processes etc., and how the individuals within the team relate to each other can have a big bearing on team performance. So, if a member leaves, or another joins, the dynamics of the team can be changed greatly and the task of team building has to start again. Here, the scale is small - say, 2 to about 12 - and the main priorities are to build the foundation of collective ownership of team objectives, and then overcome inhibitors through team bonding, facilitation, processes, etc..

Team Islands

A larger scale operates between teams. Where the teams do not relate well, they are called 'team islands'. The motivational challenge is to overcome the problem of "in/out groups" so that people have positive attitudes towards those in other teams. There are often many barriers between teams that inhibit team performance, but not all of them can be removed. The main task, therefore, is the bridging, or relationship, between the teams.

Large Teams

The largest scale is organisational culture change. With the exception of the senior management team, any changes to personnel have limited impact on the corporate culture. The key aim of company-wide team building is to change the behaviours and attitudes prevalent in the organisation, which are almost independent of who actually works there - new recruits who are 'different' often start behaving in accord with the existing culture.


  • A team is a group of people working towards a common goal
  • Team building is a process of motivating and enabling the team to achieve that goal
  • The stages involved include (a) clarifying the goal, and building ownership across the team and (b)identifying the inhibitors to teamwork and removing or overcoming them, or if they cannot be removed, mitigating their negative effect on the team
  • The nature of the team building varies in terms of scale, and what you are trying to achieve:

Type of team building Scale What is changed
Individual 1 person Who is involved in the project, and their individual skills/perceptions
Small Team 2-12 people Orientation around the team goal, and bonding (relationships between people)
Team Islands 2 or more teams Orientation towards higher goals, and bridging (relationships between teams)
Organisation 15+ people Commitment to the corporate mission, and the culture of the organisation

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