The Truth about Teambuilding

Why Everything You Think You Know
About Improving Teamwork Is Wrong

Photo of someone falling backwards into the arms of team members
This is not teambuilding (“trust fall” by Schnittke, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Companies across the U.S. waste millions of dollars and vast amounts of time on teambuilding exercises that have no lasting impact on team performance. Sound scientific research tells us that exercises and off-site activities designed to build camaraderie and inspire employees to get along simply aren’t effective at building teamwork. Worse, they often cause discontent among employees forced to participate. Ironically, the tactics psychology tells us will work cost nothing at all.

This book-length hypertext explains why so much of what we hear and read about teambuilding is wrong—and why we should be listening to scientists instead. It covers a number of teambuilding myths, including those about the value of personality, “open offices,” conflict, multitasking, and more. Then it reviews the basic facts about teamwork according to science and move to specifics about team leadership, leadership styles, and communication. From there the text covers valid techniques for improving team productivity while reducing conflict (which few managers practice), and closes with a section about organization-wide factors that impact team performance, such as group-based compensation. Full citations are provided so you can check for yourself. You can skip around the hypertext using the content lists like the one below, or read straight through using the “breadcrumbs” at the bottom of each page.


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