Why we call it “Team Building”

Teams are interesting things, shifting and changing both in composition and direction, constantly fluid even while team members work hard to stay focused on a specific set of goals and objectives.

It almost doesn’t matter what kind of team you’re talking about for this to be true. There are famous rock bands, for example, that have changed personnel over the years and have seen their “sound” change along with it, yet the basic goal—producing quality music, remains unchanged. The same holds true for sports teams, pit crews, and the casts of successful TV shows. A good example of the latter is the original CSI which, after fifteen years and numerous cast changes, still pumps out the same solid formula week after week. (And Saturday Night Live has been doing it for forty years, consistently defying one premature obituary after another!)

It’s an absolute fact that teams and team members have a flow to them. And if it’s true for the kinds of teams outlined above, then it must be true for your teams, too.

The difference we often find, though, is that the bands, sports teams, and television casts never seem to be done “building” their teams. They know change is a constant; the makeup of a team can (and will) alter and they can never say that they’re “done” building.

Yet those of us in business sometimes forget that a team is never “built,” but always “building.” We too often allocate time to getting a team off the ground, but then, once it’s up and running, tend to leave it alone. As leaders, it’s important to remember that team-building activities are not “one-and-done” efforts, but ongoing and necessary parts of continued success.

Whether they are rock bands, sports franchises, casts of actors—or organizational constructs—teams compose, compete, perform, and execute, all while in a constant state of subtle flux and change. As leaders, we best serve our teams by never forgetting that building is a process, not an activity, and that truly great teams are those that embrace that process as an ongoing part of growth.

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