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Team Bonding vs. Team Building

If you want to build a successful team, you have to form strong emotional bonds between team members. A good connection will have positive impacts on the entire company. When your employees get along, your team and company productivity will increase.

This process is called “Team Bonding.” And it’s an essential part of any successful organization.

However, team bonding will not happen automatically. You can increase your chance of developing strong team bonds by intentionally engaging with team building activities. That’s why team building is integral to creating positive team bonding.

Team Building Vs. Team Bonding

Though they have similar names, team building and team bonding are very different things. Team building focuses on the team’s productivity, while team bonding addresses the relationships between team members. Find which of them your team most needs to maximize your team development efforts.

What is Team Building?

While team bonding refers to the connections between team members, team building describes focuses on productivity. It places a more substantial focus on team member roles and building collaborative strategies. In a good team building activity, team members will come to understand their unique position within the group. From there, they’ll start coordinating their efforts more effectively and maximize their outcomes. 

How does team building work? To answer, let’s take a step back. Over time, every team enters a groove. They stop thinking about everything they’re doing and act almost automatically. Usually, this automatic behavior is a great strategy; it eliminates excess thought and gets team members working more quickly. But sometimes, these patterns hide or perpetuate ineffective work practices. So, for team building to succeed, it has to put team members in a situation where they can’t act automatically. Excellent team building encourages team members to think differently.

When teams fail to address their unproductive patterns, they get less out of their members. For example, a team might have developed hierarchical or cliquish habits at work. They might have initially adopted these patterns for a good reason, such as efficiency in decision making. But over time, it’s encouraged employees never to speak up or suggest new strategies. The result? Team members don’t realize their full potential, and the group never receives their input.

So, team building usually emphasizes communication skills and problem-solving, and forces teams to reappraise their patterns. If you do it right, team building will produce rapid results. If team members feel the right to critique and readjust unproductive patterns, they can fix longstanding problems in a very brief time. Therefore, team building can deliver very quickly on your investment.

When you’re searching for a team building activity, do something that makes your team members work toward a common goal. But make sure your activity is different than the typical work environment. This change will discourage team members from falling into old, unproductive patterns. If you put all the correct pieces into play, your team building activity will make individual team members recognize their roles and readjust their team culture.

Team Bonding

In team bonding, your primary focus is the relationships between individual team members. Here, issues of trust, communication, and friendliness come before productivity. When you focus on team bonding, rather than team building, you are encouraging employees to forge these positive bonds between each other.

The benefits of team bonding are considerable. It creates a fun, connected culture at work and encourages employees to practice effective communication practices. 

That’s why team bonding is a critical component of most team building goals. When team members get along, their output increases. For example, employees who have a good relationship with one another are much more likely to treat their customers well. That’s probably why some studies show team bonding increases sales by 2.5x!  

Team bonding activities are typically lower impact and more relaxed. The leisurely pace helps employees feel comfortable enough to talk and connect A good example? Bowling. There’s just enough activity to keep people engaged, but not so much that they disconnect. Other good activities might include a fun dinner (hibachi?) or a karaoke night.

Call the Party Planning Committee

You have to choose the right activity for your team’s needs. A team bonding activity might be very different than a team building one. Karaoke rocks at connecting team members (and garnering a lot of laughs). But, it does very little to boost your productivity directly. Likewise, a high-intensity team building activity might help team members understand their unique roles and improve strategy while failing to give employees the chance to connect. If you want the most benefit for your team, you’ll have to choose the right activity for their place in the team development journey. 

But how can you decide? Figure out where your team is at.

If your team needs help with performance and identifying unique roles, then choose a team building activity. Often, teams will need extra team building help toward the beginning of a project. Because they’re still unfamiliar with each other, a team building activity can help them uncover their roles and boost productivity early on.

If your team needs to form relationships and connect, then choose a team bonding activity. Frequently teams will need intentional team bonding toward the midpoint of a project. By this stage, your team members have likely clashed and endured many challenges together. A team bonding activity can help them blow off steam and repair their strained connections. 

Keep all this in mind as you plan team activities. The right event at the right time will maximize your team’s output and collaborative power.

And, if you want more information about team building and team bonding activities, please fill out our contact card. Afterward, we’ll get in contact with you right away to start the conversation. We have a wealth of research and firsthand experience in team development that we’d love to share with you.

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