Building Real Teams: The 3 Cs to Effective Team Bonding

Ever feel like team-building activities are a total chore? You spend all this time planning a fun outing, only to find the team dynamic remains unchanged? Been there, done that.

If you want to build a stronger team culture, you'll need to go deeper than trust falls and escape rooms.

Let's talk about a real team-building disaster:

In 2019, I consulted with a high-profile college basketball team. They wanted a workshop to boost team spirit and address an internal issue (one toxic player bringing the team down). So, I facilitated a fun team activity and taught a few concepts on teamwork – classic bonding stuff, right?

The team had a blast, learned about being a great teammate, and... nothing changed. The toxic player remained toxic, the team stayed miserable, and despite a good tournament run, the season was a drag.

Why? Because fun activities can't fix a broken culture.

The Truth About Team Building:

Many team-building exercises are a waste of time. They ignore the real issues holding your team back.

So, how do we get there? Here are the three Cs to facilitating effective team building:

Key 1: Courage 

You have to Enter the Danger, as Patrick Lencioni (a renowned author on leadership and teamwork) calls it. Effective team bonding often requires tackling behavioral issues, internal team conflict, or just walking into the room without a clear plan. Ask yourself: What is getting in the way of our success? What does our team need? Sometimes that might be fun and games, but more often than not, it is something scarier. 

Key 2: Curiosity

Whether you've planned a special team meal, paintball, or a team meeting, you as the coach (or leader) must be present and curious. As you have fun, learn a new concept, or tackle a tough conversation, be open to whatever might come up and emerge. Often, I see coaches over plan and prepare for team bonding, instead of sensing and responding to what happens in the room.

Key 3: Consistency 

Don't just have a one-off event. Make it an ongoing effort so you get upstream of cultural issues or address them quickly before things are too far gone to save.

Want to learn more? Listen to this week's podcast [Link to Episode] on effective team building. Also, we provide resources and facilitation for coaches (or team leaders) we support to help their teams thrive. Reach out to us here if you are interested!

  • -J.P. Nerbun 

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