Updated: March 20, 2022

Team Building Interventions: Step by Step Guide

This is our ultimate guide to team building interventions.

Team building interventions are exercises designed to resolve conflicts within groups. These mediations help organizations strengthen group dynamics by addressing weaknesses in the current system.

These interventions are a type of conflict resolution activity and trust building activity.

This article covers:

  • What are team building interventions?
  • Types of team building interventions
  • Why should you hold team building interventions?
  • What problems can team building interventions solve?
  • When should you hold team building interventions?
  • How to hold a team building intervention

Here is everything you need to know.

What are team building interventions?

Team building interventions are targeted workshops that focus on improving specific weaknesses of teams. Teams work with a professional to diagnose issues within the team structure and improve team competencies such as communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, interpersonal relationship capability, and delegation.

There are many types of such procedures, as outlined below. These interventions are important but often overlooked steps in the organizational development process.

Types of team building interventions

The four main classifications for team building interventions are skill-based, personality-based, activity-based, and problem solving.

Team intervention types:

  • Skill-based focuses on developing teamwork skills such as leadership abilities, conflict resolution, compromise and negotiation, active listening, and group discussion.
  • Personality-based concentrates on team members’ temperaments, typically through the use of psychological tests like the Myers-Brigg and DISC assessment.
  • Activity-based uses team building exercises to strengthen teamwork components like trust, risk-taking, communication, and critical thinking.
  • Problem solving fixates on concrete challenges and tasks the team with finding solutions to problems as a group. Sessions typically occur at an offsite location.

Understanding the different team building intervention types can help you determine and plan the best approach for your team.

Why should you hold team building interventions?

Teams are the building blocks of organizations. Though companies claim to make decisions as a single institution, the truth is that teams within the corporation make microdecisions constantly. Those smaller decisions add up to affect the overall success of the organization. Dysfunctional teams make ill-advised decisions that affect a business’s bottom line.

According to this analysis from the Harvard Business Review, collaboration in the workplace has increased by over 50% in the past two decades. With workplace cooperation becoming an ever more vital component of the modern workplace, it is vital for companies to ensure that teams perform effectively.

By administering smart teamwork training, leaders can design teams with more accountability, better judgment, higher performance, and healthier relationships.

What problems can team building interventions solve?

Team building interventions can solve problems such as communication delays, frequent disagreements, conflict avoidance, low engagement, and lack of transparency. Team interventions can also help clarify group roles, which leads to more effective interactions during future projects. Because team interventions coach employees in healthy team behaviors, the effects of these treatments can be multifold and long-lasting.

When should you hold team building interventions?

The most obvious time to hold a team building intervention is when the group exhibits dysfunctional dynamics such as interfighting, underperformance, and poor communication. However, team interventions can be proactive, not just reactive. You do not need to hold these sessions exclusively in response to a present conflict. When you sense a potential deficiency in your team, you can address or pre-empt the flaw in the early stages to avoid problems down the line.

How to hold a team building intervention

Here are steps to holding an intervention with a team in crisis.

1. Diagnose issues

One similarly between team building interventions and dramatic reality show interventions is that the first step to both is admitting the problem. In team environments, the problem may not be major, obvious, or fully formed, but the issue does not need to be pressing to merit an intervention. To build more closely-knit, higher achievement teams, phase one is to admit that, like Hannah Montanna sings, nobody’s perfect.

2. Identify goals

Knowing the problem is only half the battle. In order to administer truly effective team treatment, you need to identify your objective. By naming goals, you create a roadmap for your session and a way to measure the operation’s success. Examples of team building intervention goals might include developing strategies for respectfully conveying differences of opinion, strengthening bonds between remote teams, or determining realistic workloads and more effectively delegating tasks between team members.

3. Select an appropriate method

Once you know the obstacles and the desired outcomes, you can select a fitting approach from one of the common team building intervention types: skill-based, personality-based, activity-based, and problem solving. Searching within the parameters of these types can help you plan activities that fall within the particular category and increase the likelihood of you achieving your goal.

Learn more about team building methods.

4. Find a facilitator

An intervention can benefit from the addition of an impartial third party.  By finding an outside facilitator to oversee activities, you remove opportunities for self-consciousness and accusations of preferential treatment. Facilitators might include a team event guide, a team building consultant, a human resources professional, or a skilled mediator. You can also consider recruiting a colleague from a different area of the organization.

5. Change the venue

Just as participants profit from the presence of an unbiased intervention leader, your teams benefit from a change of scenery. Moving the intervention to neutral territory distances team members from workplace associations and encourages teammates to adopt a new perspective. You might consider hosting your team intervention at a conference hall, an offsite adventure center, or a public meeting space.

6. Partake in the event

Sending teammates off to a team building intervention unsupervised is a lot like sending high schoolers on a field trip unchaperoned; your charges might learn the proper lessons, but without you being present, you cannot be sure of the trip’s true impact. Team building interventions provide you with a valuable opportunity to observe your team’s interactions in real time. As the team leader, you should expect to participate in activities, or at a very minimum observe the exercises.

7. Reflect on the enterprise

Observing your intervention is a valuable guide for determining the session’s success, but there is more to the process than meets the eye. You can and should solicit feedback from your teammates following the team training session. You can ask teammates to share impressions at the end of the activity, and can send an anonymous survey once the team returns to the office. Another great piece of advice is to revisit the goals you formed at the beginning of the process and determine whether or not you reached the desired objective. If you uncovered and addressed more pressing issues during the course of the intervention, then that is okay too. Perhaps your intervention is a multi-step process. Regardless of the outcome, feedback and reflection can help you shape your future team building strategies and interventions.

Final thoughts

Team interventions may sound like an absolute last resort, but adopting such strategies early in the team building process can bypass some of the more common teamwork pitfalls. Considering the ever growing role of collaboration in the modern workforce, it is more important than ever for organizations to remedy the problems of ineffective teamwork.

There are many ways to build teams with efficient communication and collaboration skills, and team interventions are just one method of tackling the intricacies of teamwork. Team building activities also teach valuable cooperation skills such as decision making and effective leadership.

Feel free to check out this guide to leadership skills and competencies, this list of employee feedback tips and these team building problems.

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