The old hierarchies are dying within the organisations and team building is the best way to approach these new type of structures. The idea behind it is that it will help incentive collaboration, work flow and communication between departments.
According to Charlie Pellerin (the leader of the team who built and repaired Hubble Space Telescope),“Social context drives performance 75 percent of the time. Combined individual factors such as knowledge, skills, capacity, and motivation have only about a 25 percent influence on performance.”
Companies are decentralising authority and going for customer-centric organisations, having more dynamic networks with highly empowered teams, who communicate and coordinate activities in great ways. But obviously, there is more to it. It is not just because physical walls have been disappearing in the workplace that people will now get along with each other. What is most important in team building is generating trust between people.
In the article “The New Science of Building Great Teams”, Harvard Business Review, it is concluded that “The most valuable form of communication is face-to-face. E-mail and texting are the least valuable.
This is crucial to build the trust between people, and team building offers a way for people to work together without having to think much on their differences (cultural, politics, etc). Having a fun game time with the team, might lower their "walls down", for example, if they are having fun geocaching together, their focus will be on the game rather than their differences. This may generate a sense of fun, associating their work colleague to a more lighter version which helps communication improve.
Several studies in sports teams, military and among students have shown that a strong collective self-belief improves the collective performance.
Psychologically this enables trust and safety, in the sense that they are abler to speak up, open up to each other, less fear of communicating, and more ready to be themselves.
As for the senior level, often they would ask “but how is this relevant for the company's objectives?”
These “silly team building games” have a science behind it. They reinforce corporate values, helping the team to be more flexible and adaptable to changes, resulting in a more positive workforce.
However, it is definitely important to consider what type of activities should be chosen as there are different team building stages. Some team members being new to each other are still in the process of developing thoughts about each other. So in their case, HR should consider more “icebreaking” games. As for teams that are already familiar with each other but still looking into finding better ways to communicate, games that engage them in thoughts process such as word puzzles contests, something that will help them team up more to accomplish a goal together. This will improve their synergy when its time deliver a project together.
Another good way to engage teams is to associate the activity to a social purpose, such as a cause to help community, or charity, or the environment. The idea of contributing together to improve society enhances the inner satisfaction level. Here your organisation is able to not only tackle their Corporate Social Responsibilities but also bring proximity within the team. For example, a "Community Run" where the company contributes by funding a part of the race, and their team go all to run together. Just the fact that they are together running for a cause, in the world outside the office room, mingling together with other groups of people, will also generate more trust, more spontaneity and might change the “heavy way” they see each other when working.
Due to the large selection of team building activities available out there, HR does not need to be that creative. From Sports and contests, to participating in some events and workshops, choices do not end.
It is strongly advised to either small and medium size companies to large corporations to engage in team building, the improvements in their teams will be of great and notorious impact, contributing directly for the team to accomplish their work targets in a more efficient and effective way.