Team Building Exercises

Earlier this week, I got into a long discussion with a friend of mine about team building exercises. My friend had been tasked with finding some team building2good examples of team building exercises to use at work for a new team that was forming in her department.
I was initially approached by my friend for advice, asked what I thought of team building exercises in general, whether they were actually any good and worth making the effort over.
These questions really got me thinking about the whole thing, it had been a long time since I’d engaged in any team building exercises as such, but I have always been a firm believer that if you have a strong team who respect each other and get along, then the standard of work will be better. This is especially important when the majority of your team work remotely, from their homes, with many located in different parts of the country, or the world!
During our discussion, my friend said that they felt that team building exercises were good starting blocks for the foundation of an effective working relationship, but had also spoken to a few people who didn’t really believe in them. In fact, my friend confided that an exec she had spoken to had said that it was great if your team worked effectively together, but was avidly against strong friendships being formed in the workplace, because he felt they decreased productivity. This exec’s argument, was that the better friends people were, the more they had to talk about and this led to many wasted hours spent gassing about the kids or the cats and less time spent focussed on the task in hand.
Whilst I admit, that’s an interesting theory and I can see the logic in it, I had to counter this argument to my friend and encourage her to engage in several of these team building exercises with this new group.
With this sort of thing though, I don’t think you can just pick any old exercise and hope it will work. I know the essence of many of these types of exercises is intended to be universal, so that they can be used for various different business models, but I do think that doing your research and choosing types of exercises to suit the nature of your business and the people in your team is fundamental to how successful they can be.