Team Building

Happy teams are all alike

Happy teams are all alike; every unhappy team is unhappy in its own way. Behind every successful leader there is a great team. Where there is trust and goodwill, there are few limits to what teams can achieve. Team building activities work best when teambuilding is an outcome of a team project or learning event, rather than a goal in itself.

Teambuilding can be good for you

Teambuilding can make people feel better about themselves and their organisation. Because of that people will become better delivering your organisation’s vision, mission and goals.

“I had the opportunity to work with Edward Kellow in a previous role during a series of a development days when I was Head of Procurement for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. This is a programme funded by the UK and Dutch Governments and run by an alliance led by PwC. The days were designed to internally share learning and knowledge on the programmes processes and objectives with team members from around the world. I was in the dual position of being a participant for most of the event, but also a facilitator for the interactive session on procurement and contracting. From the prospective of a participant, I found Edward to be a focused and skilled facilitator. He understood the objectives of the development days and did an excellent job at weaving together the various components delivered by multiple guest facilitators. He placed particular and welcome emphasis on revisiting learning at regular opportunities. Edward understood the cultural diversity in the room and both respected and celebrated it. Like myself, he is clearly an advocate of the fact that learning should be fun and that’s the best way to make it stick! He created opportunities for participates to laugh and get to know each other between sessions and to create a positive, collegiate environment that helped the other facilitators deliver their messages and exercises to a more relaxed, confident group. Equally as a fellow facilitator at the event I found Edward immediately easy to work, engaging and interested in both what I was facilitating and how it was to be run. It was an enlightening and enjoyable training session and I would welcome the opportunity to work with Edward again in the future”.
Conrad De Souza, Director, Iluminar Ltd (people development, training and consultancy)

What makes a good team?

To be part of a great team is a wonderful experience and sadly, a lot of teams are simply not that great. I am never happier than when I feel part of a good team. And, I always feel warmer towards leaders who, when asked how they do it, say, “I have a great team”. Looking back, what made my good teams great was a lot of sharing: shared purpose and goals, shared ethics and values, mutual respect and trust, shared workload, give and take, and, on a personal level, liking for one another as human beings.

Good teams are their own reward, for a while at least

One of the best teams I was ever part of comprised a number of highly motivated, value-led, generous and fun loving individuals brought together by our mutual concern for people and environment. We were all different, but we had chemistry. People were willing to go the extra mile to help each other out. I learned a lot about how to lead and manage people, and I had lot of fun. Of course we had our disagreements, but working together was a life enhancing experience. My confidence and self-esteem went up. It’s worth noting that apart from when I worked for a well-known department store, it was the worst paid job I ever had. Good teams are their own reward.

How teambuilding works

There are all kinds of ways to build a team, some more effective than others. I wouldn’t recommend obliging people who don’t like each other, or their boss, to spend a weekend together. As a core principle, teambuilding events must provide opportunities for people to work together towards a shared and realistic goal, and to perceive the difference they have made. Success breeds success. The process of working together towards an agreed goal can change the dynamics in a team. It isn’t necessary to like the people in your team, but it is necessary to respect the contribution each person makes.

As a result of working together on a successful team-building event, individuals may:

  • Begin to put their differences towards the service of the team
  • Become more aware of what each person brings to the task
  • Start to re-appraise the benefits of being part of a winning team.


I have run bespoke teambuilding events for business, government and multilateral agencies, and NGOs in many different countries and cultures. Team building events are by their nature, confidential, and it would be wrong of me to share details of a specific experience. The reason for holding a teambuilding event is different for every organisation, as are the options available to them, whether because of time or budget constraints. Each organisation had its own challenges and opportunities. Some of the most successful team building events I have run started out as capacity building, and then became an opportunity to talk about how to get better at working together. I work with my clients to co-design an inspiring and cost effective team building event that will help people to get to know and trust each other, and go forward with greater confidence in themselves, pride in their achievements, and the motivation to do more together. If you would like to learn more about what can happen on a team building event, please read my blog “Dancing with Pirates: how to build listening teams”.


  • Integrate teambuilding into what you do as a matter of course to develop your team
  • Incorporate team-building into annual events like strategic planning
  • Involve your team in the design of the event
  • Be clear about what you want to achieve
  • Present teambuilding as a reward not a punishment
  • Take your team out of their usual environment
  • Make the people in your team feel good about themselves


  • Treat teambuilding as a stand-alone event
  • Impose teambuilding
  • Do it for no reason
  • Do it to demonstrate you care about your community
  • Spend more than you need to
  • Expect instant results