[HBR] Why most “team-building” activities are a waste of money

by Teamalytics on Jun 8, 2023

Team building activity

Have you ever been part of a collaborative, high-performing team that wins consistently?

Most of us crave this, but we only get it vicariously when watching our favorite sports teams on TV. 🙂

True collaboration at work is rare, even though we’ve all participated in “team-building” events.

You know the ones: karaoke nights, ropes courses, trips to exotic, Caribbean locales. Everyone goes back to their normal NON-collaborative jobs with nothing to show for the event but a few good stories.

A recent Harvard Business Review article declared that companies should “Stop Wasting Money on Team Building.”

Why would they say this?

Because while events like these may create some affinity, they usually do little to build a truly collaborative culture back at the office.

So what does?

Here are the two things your teams need to collaborate effectively.

The HBR article suggests that companies and their teams need “a framework to make collaboration clear, specific, and compelling.”

In other words, collaboration must be specifically defined and tied to individual and group goals AND their compensation plans. Without a focus on individual motivation, attempts to institutionalize collaboration will fail.

Put simply: collaboration has to pay off or it won’t happen.

So, that’s the first thing teams need to collaborate effectively — a framework focused on individual motivation for collaboration.

But, such a framework is not enough! People will still blow up efforts to collaborate by the way they behave.

Top performing teams have an accountability system for eliminating counterproductive behaviors that destroy collaboration such as:

  • Defensiveness (“Why can’t you just admit it?”)
  • Insecurity (“Why does everything have to be about you?”)
  • Harshness (“Wow! Did you really just say that?!”)
  • Passivity (“Just do something about it!”)
  • Arrogance (“You are just so full of yourself!”)
  • Stubbornness (“What will it take to get you to reconsider?”)
  • Impulsiveness (“Can you just focus for a minute?!”)
  • Negativity (“Can you say anything nice? Ever?”)

At Teamalytics, we use behavioral analytics and coaching to help your team eliminate counterproductive behaviors like these so you can hit your goals, have fun, and earn more.

Are your team members bringing enough task-focus and drive to their work each day? Are they challenging each other’s ideas in a healthy manner? Are they encouraging and supporting each other in the process? Are they confident enough? Resilient enough? Aggressive enough? Too aggressive?

You can’t answer these questions without behavioral data.

Over the last 25+ years, Teamalytics has collected and analyzed behavioral data from more than 500,000 people in many of the largest and most respected organizations in the world.

Our executive coaches are successful, senior-level leaders with first-hand experience leading their own teams through our data-driven processes in the context of military units, champion sports teams, and Fortune 500 companies.

We can help you build a productive, loyal, and passionate team of people that actually enjoy collaborating with each other to deliver measurable business results.

Are you ready to win the war by creating a high-development culture? Contact us!



  1. Learn how the Fortune 500 (e.g. LinkedIn, McKesson, Procter & Gamble) are using our behavioral analytics and coaching to optimize their teams for competition-busting results HERE.
  2. Download our report “Solving the 5 Pervasive Team Challenges” and experience the power of our Teamalytics 360 Report for yourself or a team member at no charge HERE.
  3. Grab a free Consultation to discuss the challenges on your team and how to leverage the power of behavioral analytics to solve them HERE.