Updated: July 19, 2022

Team Building Management: Ultimate Guide

You found our guide to team building management.

Team management provides a blueprint for team building leaders to create highly effective teams. Decades of input from thought leaders and researchers resulted in teamwork management frameworks that help executives steer teams towards optimal performance and organizational success.

These principles explore necessary team management skills. To learn more about team building leadership, check out these books on management and team building books.

This article covers:

  • What is team building management?
  • Why is team building management important?
  • What is the role of team building in leadership and management?
  • What is the role of team building in leadership and management?
  • What are the best management team building activities?
  • What is a team building management consultant?
  • What is team building diversity management?
  • What is team building project management?
  • What are team building theories of management?
  • How does virtual team building management differ from traditional team management?

So, here are the basics!

What is team building management?

There are many ways you can define team building management, but the basic definition is the practice of maximizing effectiveness for work groups. Team management is a guiding force that calls forth a team’s true potential. Proper management identifies barriers and roadblocks to smooth collaboration, develops teammates’ skills, establishes norms and behavioral standards, and fosters relationships between group members.

A dedicated manager provides extensive training, plans team building activities and outings, structures team building meetings and projects, evaluates and advises team members, and fosters a culture of growth and inclusivity in the work environment. The job of a leader is to motivate and inspire teams and empower employees to perform at optimal levels.

Why is team building management important?

Teams need direction. Team members typically hold relatively equal weight, which means that all teammates have identical pull in the decision making process. Without an overseer to make a final call or help employees through the conflict resolution process, teams may not settle disagreements in a timely manner.

Team building leaders do not aim to pick sides, but to equip teams with the skills and emotional intelligence needed to navigate conflict and arrive at an agreeable settlement. In a perfect scenario, teams will work out the problem amidst themselves, with the leader’s supervision and occasional input, and the leader will confirm that the course of action is acceptable. This approach does not only apply to differences of opinion, but also general confusion. The role of management is to guide teams and align goals, tasks, and expectations.

Managers have information about the organization at large that teammates may not be privy to. While employees can sometimes get tunnel vision and focus only on individual tasks or requirements, leaders need to examine the big picture and ensure that the department’s efforts fit within the framework of the company’s mission.

Management is particularly important to the team building process because activities and initiatives work best when there is a specific objective in mind. Anyone can Google team building activities and find a game or exercise to occupy a team’s time, but the most effective activities are specially selected by leaders who assess a team’s strengths and weaknesses, identify potential areas for improvement, and target a specific outcome.

What is the role of team building in leadership and management?

Team building is by far one of the most powerful tools in any management team’s arsenal. The process of team building transforms a group of random coworkers into a cohesive and functional unit. When team building succeeds, teams self-regulate and emulate teamwork even without implicit instructions from leaders. By engaging in activities, games, and exercises, leaders impart a value system and company culture to employees. Employees internalize these values and exhibit behaviors such as empathy, consideration, respect, trust, reliability, enthusiasm, and integrity.

What are the best management team building activities?

The best management team building activities clearly distinguish leadership from the general team, mirroring the chain of command present in the workplace. One example of such an activity is the team building exercise frostbite, where the leader has bound hands and must verbally direct a group of blindfolded teammates with instructions to construct a makeshift shelter. Other good management team building activities include team building quizzes and game show competitions, establishing a mutual code of conduct, and blind draws.

Management team building activities are useful not only for managers, but for any team leaders. Often within a team a group member will have to step up as a leader. Management team activities teach team members how to influence the group and take charge of appropriate situations.

What is a team building management consultant?

Management consultants are professionals that advise ways to improve organizations. When hired, consultants observe operations, report findings, and offer recommendations to the company. Team building management consultants focus on the efficiency of teams, paying special attention to interpersonal interactions, communication patterns, and decision making processes. The team consultant may suggest a team building intervention or some other customized approach to close gaps in teammates’ relationships or skill sets.

Team management consultants can also train leaders to effectively coach teams. Managing the dynamics of groups differs from supervising individuals, and leaders often benefit from the expertise of specialists.

Team building management consultants are neutral third parties that work with companies for short sprints, and these professionals can offer a novel, unbiased perspective unaffected by company politics.

What is team building diversity management?

As the fight for equality gains more traction and attention, corporations are increasingly realizing the importance of diversity in the workplace. Employee diversity not only fulfills social justice parameters, but also increases innovation and global impact. Possessing a variety of viewpoints can give a company a competitive advantage in the marketplace, as colleagues with different perspectives can offer unique insights. Thus, it is important for businesses to prioritize diversity on organizational and individual levels.

When teams consist of members with different backgrounds, abilities, knowledge, and cultural identities, teammates grow and end products are more impressive. Team building diversity management means diversifying team makeup so that each team contains a mix of personalities, capabilities, and stories. Team diversity occurs when leaders approach the hiring process with an open mind and a desire to supplement current group gaps. Leaders can also highlight diversity in the ongoing workplace by allowing opportunities for many different employees to collaborate, acknowledging skills and accomplishments, and strategically pairing employees who will draw out each other’s strengths.

Most importantly, leaders need to foster an environment of inclusivity within the organization. While hiring diverse applicants is a step in the right direction, the gesture may seem half-hearted if managers do not create a safe space and empower these employees. Everyone on a team deserves respect and consideration. The perfect teams welcome all new members as equals and valued contributors, with managers leading the way.

Here is a list of virtual diversity activities for teams.

What are team building management styles?

There are several different management styles, also known as leadership styles. The following approaches tend to work best for team building:

  • Democratic style: The democratic style of leadership, also sometimes called participative leadership, involves leaders working alongside employees to shape the team and the labor process. This style of leadership favors collaboration and agreement. A democratic leader models consideration and compromise and sets the tone for team cooperation.
  • Transformational style: Transformational leadership embraces change. These leaders lay out a vision and work with employees to realize the revolutionary results. The transformational leader looks for ways to improve group dynamics and build dream teams.
  • Transactional style: Transactional leadership involves give and take. Leaders outline clear expectations for employees, along with rewards and punishments. Though ideally a leader should aim to awaken intrinsic motivation within groups, presenting clear standards establishes accountability and ensures every teammate contributes appropriately.
  • Servant style: Servant leadership constantly asks the question “how can I help?” Leaders prioritize helping employees learn and grow. This approach positions the leader as a part of the team, a coach and co-collaborator more than a supervisor.
  • Situational style: Situational leadership adapts the approach based on the circumstances. A situational leader assesses the team and tailors actions based on teammates’ skills, experience levels, and personalities. This leader’s flexibility inspires adaptability within teams.

Other leadership styles can have both major advantages and drawbacks in terms of teamwork. Laissez-faire leadership empowers team members to take charge, but without a leader’s guidance and management, groups may function more like a loosely-related bunch of talented individuals than a team. Charismatic leadership can quickly establish a shared culture, but the focus usually falls on the magnanimous boss instead of the talented team. Authoritarian leadership’s emphasis on obedience is generally not conducive to positive team morale, psychological safety, and innovative risk-taking.

Learn more about different management styles, and check out this list of team building types.

What is team building project management?

Project management is the process of overseeing a group that works towards a specific goal or result. Because projects almost always involve teams, it is important to ensure that all members trust and can collaborate with each other. While general team building typically aims to unify departments or company colleagues, project management team building tends to be short-term and targeted towards the members of a certain project team. This style of team building is results-focused, hoping to positively influence the outcome of a particular undertaking. Project management team building includes introducing and acquainting group members, clarifying roles and responsibilities, fostering productive communication, and celebrating milestones.

Learn more with project management books.

What are team building theories of management?

Management theories are research-backed ideas about the best practices of running an organization. Many theories of management exist. The management theories mores relevant to teamwork include:

Human relations theory: The originator of this theory was Elton Mayo, the man often credited as the father of team building history. In the course of his research, Mayo discovered that employees responded positively to actions that signaled that managers cared about worker wellbeing, as well as circumstances that allowed colleagues to interact and form relationships. This theory claims that social ties are more powerful motivators than money and material incentives.

Principles of administrative management theory: This theory asserts that every employee has a proper place, and once given a role teammates should receive freedom to carry out responsibilities effectively. This team building management theory outlines the ways a leader should sort and consort with the team, setting forth actions like forecasting, planning, coordinating, and directing. Leaders make definitive decisions but allow employees leeway when carrying out tasks, and every teammate receives kindness, fairness, and respect.

Systems management theory: This framework centers employees as the most crucial components of a company’s success. The theory analyzes how different systems, such as departments, regions, or offices work together and effectively collaborate to achieve a common goal. For organizations to reach or exceed aims, all parts must collaborate effectively. Managers seek out patterns and study interactions to ensure that all groups maintain the same wavelength and move in unison.

Tuckman’s theory of team development: Psychologist Bruce Tuckman developed a theory of team development to describe the progression of professional groups from gathering to disbanding. This theory sets forth five team building stages known as forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning. Each stage explains the team’s growth and performance by outlining events such as navigating initial conflict or embracing each other’s strengths and quirks.

Belbin theory of team roles: Management consultant Raymond Meredith Belbin devised a theory that laid forth nine different roles that team members may adopt in group settings. The roles are plant, shaper, monitor evaluator, resource investigator, teamworker, coordinator, specialist, implementer, and completer/finisher. By taking a personality test, teammates can discern which identity fits, and leaders can understand how teammates might best interact.

While you can apply other theories of management to group development, the entires on the list above are the approaches most conducive to teamwork. Human relations theory, principles of administrative management theory, systems management theory, Tuckman’s theory of team development, and the Belbin theory of team roles are the best examples of Team building theories of management.

For similar ideas, read up on employee engagement theory and these research studies on team building.

How does virtual team building management differ from traditional team management?

Virtual team building management maintains the spirit of collaboration traditional team management, but remote offices require a special approach to achieve cohesiveness. Remote leaders need to strike a balance between offering support and checking in periodically, but not to the point that the employee suspects a lack of trust. To manage remotely means having much more faith in your team, because you are not able to observe the work, only the end result.

On the other hand, as a leader you are still responsible for communicating and imparting company culture to your team. In fact, culture and sense of belonging are even more important in virtual offices than traditional workplaces, since the lack of steady interaction between colleagues can stoke feelings of isolation and disconnectivity. Virtual leaders must implement efficient and creative ways to encourage teammates to communicate, collaborate, and socialize from respective home offices, a task that benefits from the use of tools such as team software and virtual team building events.

Learn more about remote team management.

Final Thoughts

Team building management encompasses a variety of topics including different management styles, theories, tactics and team building activities. At the core, team management boils down to one principle: elicit the best performance from any team. Organizations aim to achieve group harmony and ultimate productivity, and team building management realizes this goal.

Next, check out this list of books for new managers, this guide to management vs leadership and this guide to management by objectives.

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