Don’t use team building to solve individual problems

I was talking to a client yesterday who wanted team building for a “broken” team. It is something we have done from time to time and it reminded me of one of the most frustrating, expensive and unnecessary problems in this area – using a collective team building event to address a problem with one or two individuals.

It is very common when we are asked to run a team building event for teams with problems that, when we investigate, we find that 80% of team members don’t have a problem but there are serious relationship issues with one individual or between a couple of people on the team. Usually this is compounded by a manager unwilling to confront the issue or who believes that teamwork is the answer to every problem.

I worked with a team from major multinational some years ago who were on their fourth “team building event” to try to solve a problem between the marketing and R&D heads (always a challenging relationship). The people not involved in the problem were deeply frustrated and knew there was nothing they could do to solve the problem.

In the end we created two “teams” – team A who did not have a problem and could go to the bar and “team B” who were the two individuals with the problem plus the manager who we sent to a room and kept working with¬† till the problem was solved.

If you have a team with problems, only use collective team events to focus on issues that everyone shares. If it is a problem with individuals, confront them with it directly. It is the manager’s job to solve this with the individuals concerned.

Have you experienced this in teams you have worked with?

Don’t use team building to solve individual problems

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