The idea behind holding team building events or conferences is to get everyone within a company or department working together towards the same goal.  One of the biggest factors involved in this is communication.  Whether via email, phone or face to face; there are thousands of interactions that take place every day in every office, store or warehouse.  Team building events try to teach the vital importance of open lines of communication between all members of a team. Any break in the lines of communication can lead to disastrous results.  There are many reasons for a break down in communication but below are three of the most common.

1.  The silo effect

While it might seem self evident that withholding information can cause problems, lapses in communication are not always intentional.  If a member of the team feels uncomfortable speaking to their teammates or they don’t feel their input is important enough, not sharing a piece of information can keep the rest of the team from performing as well as they might.  It can be due to competition, being split up geographically or that  different teams just do not want to share with another group.  I have seen this played out time and time again in the team building events I facilitate.  Once the teams realize they have to go beyond their group to solve the problems, the “team building” part has been accomplished.  There are many reasons the silo effect happens but it is very hard for the company to be at running at their optimal efficiency and effectiveness without breaking down the walls and sharing between all teams.

2. Everybody counts

A common issue that hinders communication is a reluctance to speak openly with members of upper management.  Participating in team building events where everyone needs to work together to solve the riddles or questions helps show that everyone is an important part of the team.  I remember an event where the teams and judges were comprised of everyone involved on the project. The people on the assembly line on up to the engineer's and management were on the same team. It was very eye opening to see the different ways the different levels approached solving the problems. It can bond a group when they see the value everyone individual brings. When upper management acknowledges that it needs everyone from management on down to drive their company forward, it can shift the whole morale of a company.

3. Fear of being wrong

Some employees might not want to give their input because they feel if it is not implemented that it will reflect poorly on them.  While it is true that not every idea is a good idea, employees can learn even if they do not see a direct result from their input it is far from unimportant.  Management can learn what issues or obstacles employees face and understand why these problems arise.  Any input at all shows a company what it’s employees are thinking about and what they consider important.  Being able to hear what an employee has to say without judging goes a long way to build trust.

Learning and understanding the problems employees face and ensuring there are always open lines of communication goes a long way towards getting everyone focused on the common goal of the team or company.  Communication alone cannot ensure a successful business but not having it dramatically increases the chances of failure.  Team building events are a great way to get the team on the same page and shift the current context.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Rezac is Vice President of Instruction for the Western region at the Leaders Institute She is based in Seattle, Washington, but she also teaches in Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego and other Western cities.