Team building as an organizational development intervention can have its limitations. The first problem may result from a team leader failing to identify the correct priorities for a team’s attention. (1) The leader may choose to lead the team in a skills-based team building exercise, such as learning how to give criticism or running effective team meetings. (2) However, if the reason why this team is not working together effectively deals simply with trust issues or personality clashes, that may be what the leader wants to address first. There are different types of team building exercises based on the different types of problems a team experiences.
The success of team building has a lot to do with the willingness of the individuals. If individuals are in conflict, this can be destructive to team building exercises and render them ineffective. (3) Diversity in teams is inevitable simply because people are different. Personality types and cultural backgrounds must be considered when working with others. Both passive and strong personalities may influence how a team building exercise is executed. Someone who is shy or experiences some kind of cultural barriers may be less comfortable with group bonding exercises. Sometimes working in teams can be time-consuming because of the need for coordination and consensus. Some individuals are simply not compatible with group work.
On the other hand, teams may become efficient, but perhaps less creative if they begin to experience “group think.” (4) Another possible limitation of team building is that it may result in the organization resisting change. If there are replacements or transfers in personnel, people may be less flexible because of the strong relationships they have built. (4) Team building exercises often seek to improve things that are hard to measure, because they are not going to be testable skills. Although over time these may be observable, there will not be much evidence supporting a behavior change after the team building has occurred. (5) This may be seen as a limitation to those facilitating a team building intervention.
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