Unexpected consequences of team buildingCorporate team building does more than just help groups bond, improve performance and achieve goals. Here’s why you can expect the unexpected.


If you’ve participated in many team building experiences throughout your career, you know that they can be positive, negative, or just so-so experiences. That’s why, once a company commits to team building development for employees, I make sure I understand what it is that they intend to accomplish during the event.

Without clear objectives to guide the outcomes, a team building retreat will most likely be one of those that-was-just-okay experiences – versus an impactful wow-that-was-amazing engagement. Team building events can and should be leveraged for change and enhanced efficiency back in the workplace.

Expect the Unexpected

Several years ago, I led a large team-building retreat on a ropes course in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I’ll never forget the final debrief – when participants reflect and share what they got out of the event.  Not only were participants satisfied with the experience and feeling closer to their colleagues, they were also surprised by unexpected revelations.

One employee remarked, “We were able to collaborate in ways that we never have before. Now I know what we can really do in the workplace!”  Another said, “I noticed a big shift in our team – our relationships are stronger and we now know how to solve problems together.”

I’ve found that participants usually expect to enjoy themselves, and maybe walk away with some new ideas or approaches. But they don’t expect to gain meaningful insights about themselves and colleagues that can dramatically affect their perceptions, perspective and performance.

Trust and Engagement Matter

After the Sao Paulo retreat, one participant said, “I never really knew how much the company truly cares about me as an employee.  I mean, I knew, but I didn’t really know until now.”

This person went back to the office with a new level of passion and commitment. Can you imagine if every team member did the same? Can you see how that would translate to an escalated level of trust and engagement between individuals? When that happens, people are inspired and motivated to do and be better.

Leaders Make It Happen

Company leaders that invest in team building send a clear message: their most important assets – their people – are valued. However, that message isn’t always so obvious to employees unless it’s expressed frequently and powerfully. Successful team-building efforts (ones that achieve goals and truly engage participants) help employees feel that they are valued.

So leaders, if you want people to be motivated, engaged, committed, inspired and loyal, give the gift of team building. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Has Team Building Helped You?

I’m curious to know what type of team building events you have experienced, and how they impacted your performance or the company, as a whole. What worked, and what didn’t? Were they positive experiences, and how did they affect your colleagues and leaders? Let’s have a conversation! Please share your stories, comments or questions below.

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