top of page

What happens when team building goes wrong?

What happens when team building goes wrong?

When team building is done well, it helps with trust, engagement, retention and the building of productive working relationships. Selecting the right team building provider and activity is crucial, as a lot of damage can be done when it all goes wrong.

Team building activities are widely recognized as a valuable tool for enhancing collaboration, communication, and camaraderie among team members. However, when team building goes wrong, it can have detrimental effects on both individuals and the overall team dynamic. Here are some potential outcomes when team building takes a turn for the worse.

Lack of trust:

Team building exercises that are poorly planned or executed can lead to a lack of trust among team members. If activities are forced, artificial, or embarrassing, individuals may feel condescended to, hesitant to open up and share their real thoughts or ideas with their colleagues, hindering effective teamwork.

Resentment and demotivation:

When team building activities are poorly designed, team members may perceive them as tokenistic, a waste of time or irrelevant to their work. This can result in resentment and demotivation, as individuals feel that their time and energy could be better spent on team building that works on root causes or simply productive work tasks. As a result, team morale may suffer, impacting overall performance.

Exclusion and cliques:

In some instances, team building activities poorly run or improperly matched to a demographic can inadvertently create divisions within the team and damage working relationships. If certain individuals feel excluded or marginalized during these activities, it can lead to the formation of cliques and subgroups, eroding collaboration and fostering a toxic work environment

Increased conflict:

Team building exercises that involve competition or scenarios that exacerbate existing tensions can lead to increased conflict among team members. Strong personalities may clash, and unresolved issues may escalate, damaging relationships and hindering cooperation when poor delivery or timing are an issue.

Emotional distress:

In extreme cases, poorly executed team building activities can cause emotional distress among participants. Some individuals may be uncomfortable with physical challenges or may have personal experiences that are triggered during certain activities. This can result in anxiety, stress, or even trauma, impacting individuals' well-being and their ability to work effectively within the team.

Loss of productivity:

When team building activities do not achieve their intended objectives or cause negative outcomes, valuable work time is wasted. Instead of fostering collaboration and productivity, the team may find themselves dealing with the aftermath of a failed team building exercise, diverting attention and resources away from their core tasks as working relationships or morale have been injured.

High turnover rates:

If team building is consistently seen as trite, or goes wrong, team members may become disillusioned and disengaged from their work. This can lead to increased turnover rates as individuals seek better working environments where they feel more valued and supported.

Decreased innovation and creativity:

Team building activities that stifle individuality or discourage risk-taking can inhibit innovation and creativity within the team. When team members are hesitant to share their unique perspectives or ideas, it limits the potential for breakthrough thinking and problem-solving.

To avoid these negative consequences, it is essential to carefully plan and execute team building activities with skilled and experienced providers.

They should be designed with the team's specific goals, dynamics, and preferences in mind. With over three decades of experience in designing and delivering team and leadership development and team building, Sabre knows how to make a team building event go right and avoid the potential pitfalls. TO FIND OUT MORE CONTACT US: T – 1300 731 381 E –


bottom of page