Team Building

Team building as a foundation for effective performance

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

Over the years I have been involved in quite a number of team building exercises. The formula for effective team building needs to include the following:

  1. Should be fun and interactive
  2. Should be challenging
  3. Should be interactive

The foundation of team building is goal setting.

During my years as a Senior Executive in customer service, we often disguised team building exercises as competitions. Some examples.

Most Successful Calls in an Hour

Two groups of support engineers were pitted against each other in a competition to see who could handle the most calls in an hour. Every call was monitored by our Quality Assurance Team, and each call was graded. The rules were simple.

Ø The call could not be rushed.

Ø A solution to the customers problem had to be given and the customer had to confirm at the end of the call that they were satisfied.

Ø The calls were graded from 1-5, five being best. Only calls graded 4 or better were counted in the final tally.

Ø All calls were recorded for further analysis later.

The successful team had to work together, utilize each others skills and talents and handle a stressful situation by working together. In a number of cases, the winning team passed calls to other members who were specialist in a particular kind of problem. When the competition was nearly done and too close to call, both team supervisors were on the phone handling calls themselves, helping their team.

The Scavenger Hunt

Two teams were given a set budget of money, and asked to build a computer to give away to a local school. They were given one business day to source the parts, build and test the computer. The winning team was the one who could put together the best computer in 9 hours time. This required planning, the team driving to different locations to find the parts at the best price, assembly and testing of the finished product. The teams had to assemble, use their collective knowledge about where to find the best and cheapest computer parts, and then go off on “runs,” to find the parts. Once they returned to the office, different skill sets were required to build the system, and then install and test the software. The winning team assembled a computer with higher specifications for $100 less than the other team.


Competitive sports are a great team building exercise. During my time at Packard Bell Electronics, many groups had bowling teams. This was an opportunity to get together on Friday night as a group and participate in a healthy activity. It also built team morale and unity of purpose. Paintball is another great team building activity. I believe sports can be a great team builder, but creating team building exercises based on job skills are in my opinion far more effective. There is also the issue in sports of non-physical types who may feel left out, or may be ostracized by the rest of the team for “bringing them down.”


“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

–General George Smith Patton, Jr.

One of the best Team Building exercises is not an exercise at all. It simply involves knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses and creating an environment were everyone on the team depends on their teammates for mutual success. One form of establishing this is to crosstrain employees, creating an awareness of others responsibilities and challenges. This is also very practical as it creates backup employees should a critical one get sick or not be able to come in. When the entire team understands each others roles, it is easier for them to work together for a common goal.

“An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.”

–Stephen Covey

Next is aggressive goal setting. I take a top down approach to goal setting. First establish the goals of the group, then establish for each team member, their role and the importance of that role. Many employees feel like a “cog in the wheel,” neither understanding, nor appreciating the importance of their role in the team’s success. Creating a team is all about “Buy In,” getting each member of the team to acknowledge their role and buy in to the success of the team as part of their own success.

The following are some good articles on Team Building:

Team Building

Some Team Building Exercises

About dot Com – Team Building Article

Article about Empowerment and This one, is a must read!

Some Good Books on Team Building

Quick Team Building Exercises for Busy Managers

The Team Building Toolkit

The five Dysfunctions of a Team (Fiction but Awesome)

The Team Coach

The Tipping Point (Not about Team Building, but a MUST READ)

The Art of War for Managers

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