Is Team Building a Waste of Time and Money?

A recent article in C&IT Magazine cited a Vodafone UK and YouGov survey which suggests that some employees think team building is awkward, a waste of time and over half of the respondents concluded that team building would not help them work more effectively with colleagues.

Clearly their experience of team building has not been positive, but is that really a true reflection of the value of team events? Nicky Wrighte, Commercial Director here at KDM, gives her thoughts:

The term ‘team build’ can be used by our clients and our industry colleagues in quite an indiscriminative way. It has very different meanings dependent upon your viewpoint – for some the words ‘team building’ mean a no holds barred fun experience with no reference to business content. For others, a team build event has to be a relevant business objective led activity that draws colleagues together in a stimulating environment designed to affect behaviours (positively!) in the workplace. Both viewpoints are valid, however the disappointment and frustration for the participants arises when there is a mismatch between the viewpoint of the booker and the style of the event delivered.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to team building or any style of activity event. The purpose of any activity element in an event is of primary importance, so we encourage our clients to question Why are we doing this? What specifically do we want our participants to walk away with? How do we want this to affect their behaviours and performance back in the workplace?  Who are our delegates and how do we want them to feel? We know that if our clients have clearly understood their audience and their goals for the event, then it will be a success.

Take one of our IT clients for example who have booked the same team build for the last 8 years. Some might view it as ‘old and clichéd’ because it involves problem solving outdoors with basic equipment – however it’s appropriate and effective for this company’s IT management teams that pass through the programme each year.

In trying to assess the effectiveness of events ROI (Return on Investment) is a term that’s used a lot, along with ROO (Return on Objective) and ROE (Return on Expectation). However, the benefits of effective team building cannot be precisely measured at the conclusion of the event, the benefits are on going back in the workplace and can’t be tied down to specific figures and percentages. To rate successful team events it’s much better to collate robust delegate feedback scores on the important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that came out of the clients initial questioning.

As a guideline there must be a relaxed social element in which participants have had fun by participating with one another, they should feel valued not humiliated, if relevant the messages from the conference programme should have been communicated in a visual way and the participants given the opportunity to ‘do’ something directly relating to the business content. These are all things that we explore with our clients during the enquiry process and then our event team on the day work towards these outcomes.

In their Big Debate C&IT Magazine are asking ‘How do you avoid clichéd team building?’  Nicky’s response:

Old ‘cliched’ team building doesn’t exist – only badly thought out, inappropriate events. Likewise ‘fresh’ new teambuilding doesn’t exist – only well conceived and relevant events. Our job is to help our clients to think about the issues and ask the right questions internally so we can match a well thought out solution to their needs. And this is neither ‘fresh’ nor is it ‘cliched’… it’s just good business.

Of course, here at KDM we don’t believe team building is a waste of time and money. But we do recognise that it can be ineffective or even damaging when not done properly. That’s why we work closely with our clients to clarify objectives, help them avoid inappropriate events and find fitting solutions. In this way we ensure that our client’s team building is extremely effective, successful and great value for money. And our figures speak for themselves…80% of our business is repeat clients!

If you are interested in talking to us about how we can help ‘freshen’ up your team event approach please call us 01782 646300 – we’d love to hear from you!


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