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When teambuilding can actually do more harm than good

You might be surprised; teambuilding can sometimes do more harm than good. After running teambuilding programs for ten years, here is our quick rundown on the three situations when you should not use teambuilding.

1.    Use it to solve deep-rooted issues.

I personally believe that teambuilding provides the platform for discussion and teaches the principles of teamwork and open communication. However, if you have deep-rooted issues like “a boss having anger issues”, “politics at work”, “lack of respect” and the like, teambuilding is not the right platform to solve the problem effectively.

Although teambuilding events may facilitate discussions, most of them in the market don’t have the capability to handle these difficult conversations well. Deep-rooted issues should be solved directly with the relevant people involved and not drag the entire team into it.

2.    When you just want to have fun.

During our course of getting a client to share with us their objectives or what they want to see happening during the teambuilding event, some of them inevitably share that they are only looking for fun or a unique experience.

This is especially common when many companies (even restaurants and music companies) out there sell their services as “teambuilding”. There is a difference between teambuilding and team bonding. The former specifically and strategically attempts to improve the group dynamics within the team, while the latter provides an experience where participants can have fun together as a group and hopefully talk about team dynamics.

Hence for those who just want to have fun, the group dynamics is irrelevant and cost becomes one of the main points of comparison. There is nothing wrong about it but they failed to see that teambuilding is a useful tool to create meaningful fun while everyone is spending their precious time together. They can use this time to help the team improve their way of working with each other and yet still have fun together.

3.    To replace a training program.

Some companies think that teambuilding programs can replace a training workshop (e.g. Teach leadership skills in a teambuilding program). This is a misconception. Teambuilding programs can impart principles of teamwork, communication and leadership but are not equipped to conduct a full fledge training program. Learning principles are not the same as knowing what to say and how to say certain things. These can only be properly learnt when you attend a skills-based training workshop.


If you are going to spend money on teambuilding, at least be intentional on what it should do for your team. Make teambuilding a time that will help your people grow from their current levels of teamwork into the next higher level.

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