Teambuilding in Organizations: Communication and Productivity

This paper discusses literature in team building as a service for small and large corporations. Emphasis is put on techniques and applications that various organizations have used to involve employees in teaming exercises. These exercises are utilized to boost morale and build communication skills for employees and employers. Through these experiences organizations reap the benefits of good communication, thereby increasing productivity. The terms team building and productivity are defined in terms of their relationship with one another. The paper brings the two variables together and formulates questions regarding team building, productivity, and communication in organizations.

Healthy relationships among employees and supervisors are important for a company’s culture to remain intact. An organization’s culture relies heavily on the type of communication it expects from its employees. In order for a company to have good communication skills, teambuilding techniques are used to introduce expectations for team work to its employees. Team building workshops or techniques are offered to compliment the communication practices in the workplace. Employees need a “âÂ?¦snappy training program that’s fun, creates instant bonding, and ensures information retention” (West, 1996, p.51).

This paper focuses on the intent to show a correlation between team building strategies and increases in employee productivity levels. However, to do this, each variable must be defined and exemplified through past studies in literature. Through this research, it is the goal of this paper to then define a relationship between team building and communication.

Literature Review

Team Building
Team building is based on the idea that people who display trust and loyalty and share these qualities with his / her co-workers and supervisors will become better teammates, individuals, and communicators. Employees are trained to work toward a common goal. Such training empowers people and encourages them to utilize the necessary tools to work together in spite of gender, culture, or educational boundaries.

There are certain techniques and exercises utilized by organizations to promote team building. These exercises provide skills in public speaking, interviewing, technical writing, diversity and remedial writing. These are areas in which job-readiness skills are increased. Team building exercises provide the skills necessary for working together to reach a common goal (Krapels/Davis, 2000, p.107). In a study by Krapels and Davis (2000) varying techniques of team building showed that different employee groups were trained in particular skill areas (p.109). However, goodwill and interpersonal skills were two areas that all employees were trained in (p.107).

Outside of the work environment, team building workshops take place. A popular technique rising in the genre of team building is in the culinary field. For example, a cooking school in Colorado stressed exercises by providing “âÂ?¦a beginning, a middle, an end, and a celebration – all in one day” (Barela, 2002, p.1). The culinary field was used to bring employees and employers down to the same level working side by side. The people learned techniques to use in the kitchen, yet strategies for communication with people and the workplace as well (p.1). “The kitchen is neutral ground, a leveler among all associates which helps improve communication” (p.1). The literature behind team building and in particular, the culinary field, says that although the actual exercises performed are not relative to a company’s product, the participants gain through shared experiences and create relationships. Many corporations have expressed interest in having team building retreats at places where the participants can have fun and at the same time process the skills into applications for work (Pavelich, 2005, p.1).
Literature has shown, that exercises are employed to show the importance of teams and that communication is important and necessary (West, 1996, p.2). Because much of team building takes place outside the office, in particular in the environment, team challenges are often physical and mental challenges. These challenges are actually metaphors for future disputes in the organization (Long, 1987, p.32). Challenges to prepare for might include collaboration with other employees and problem-solving, setting personal goals and the use of a support network (p.33).

Team Building Controversies
Research shows that resistance to team building activities and programs often prohibit a company or individual from learning how to communicate well, thereby decreasing the availability of information shared between employees and throughout a company (Preston, 2005, p.16), “Without teamwork, communication and sharing of information is limited, which leads to generally poor outcomes” (p. 16). When there is resistance to team building, whatever the reason, strategies should be implemented (p. 28). An emphasis placed on employee satisfaction and fun, trust-centered team building efforts would prevent team building barriers and controversies from forming (p. 18). Preston stressed that “âÂ?¦teambuilding is essential to better organization-wide communication” (p. 28). However, in the instance that an individual withholds information or does not share with his/her team members, team building will not take place. Without this transfer among employees, there may be an impact on the individual’s productivity levels (Papa, 1990, p. 346).

Productivity
If productivity levels can be impacted by an employee’s unwillingness to share information in the team building process, it is necessary to define productivity in terms of an organization and its relationships to communication. Reiger illustrates the importance of the research in connection with productivity and employees. “Treat people well, and they’ll work well” (Rieger, 1995, p. 1).
An employee’s productivity levels have a relationship with management. Employee and employer relationships should develop harmoniously in an effective operating organization (p.2). Even in the late research done for the Hawthorn Works at the Western Electric Company (1932) “Evidence showed that interpersonal relationships were the primary factors that determined productivity rates. In particular, the interaction between employees-worker-to-worker and supervisor-to-worker- influenced morale. And morale, in turn, affected productivity” (p.4).

Research shows that communication is an influential piece of productivity. A technological study by Papa (1990) proved that “âÂ?¦communication behavior influences employee performance with new technology” (p.345). In order to implement new technology, employees must interact in order to understand directions, discuss problem areas, and new ways to work as efficiently as possible with new equipment (p. 346). If an individual’s productivity is dependant on his/her ability to use new technology, it is necessary to communicate with others in order to grasp the best understanding. The amount of information gathered by the individual may have either a beneficial or negative impact upon his/her productivity levels (p.346). In this study empirical evidence demonstrated that “âÂ?¦the more an employee talked with co-workers about how to use a new computer system, the higher that employee’s productivity was likely to be using that system” (p.346). Papa also emphasized the productivity factors in relation to network diversity. Not only is the network diverse in its people, gender, race, and age; it is also diverse in departments and hierarchal levels within the company. Therefore, Papa identifies a diverse network as being a greater source of information which in turn would allow for greater productivity (p.349). Ultimately, the study supplied evidence that the more interpersonal interaction between diverse groups of employees about his/her new technology would increase the productivity of these employees using the new system (p.361).

Other research conducted in the field of productivity says that the purpose of employee communication is to increase profits (Litterest/ Eyo, 1982, p.17). “The link between productivity and morale is high, productivity tends also to be high; when morale drops, there is a corresponding drop in productivity” (p.19). Another way in which productivity increases is shown through the literature. If goals in an organization are laid out, there may be improvements in employee effectiveness (p.22). In an article regarding leadership and employee effectiveness a study researches the nursing practice and five leadership skills for management or leaders to follow. In following these five behaviors, employees would be more productive and “âÂ?¦likely to remain loyal to the department and to the organization” (McNeese-Smith, 1993, p.1). The five behaviors for management are innovating, building excitement, encouraging teamwork, modeling the way, and encouraging the heart (p.2). Similarly, Blanchard (1996) listed seven characteristics that produce high performance teams. The most important of these are optimal productivity and moral (p.2). Groups should be satisfied with the members and have the ability to produce productive results. All of the behaviors help to provide a direction for the group as well as a supports system. This support increases morale and the direction increases productivity (p.3).

The literature completed in the areas of team building, organizational communication and productivity are relative to each other. Team building has been shown to enhance organization morale. This boosts employee morale and results in increased employee productivity. Thus the following research question has been formulated through the scholarship:
RQ: What is the relationship between team building in organizations and communication?

Method
In order to answer the research question a duplication of past research could be done. A longitudal survey study could be replicated probing questions in relation to employee team building experiences and organizational communication. Employees would be asked to participate in the survey before the team building program took place, directly after the employees’ participated in the program too find a comparison in the results and then again much later to find if the team building techniques had a long lasting result.

Results and Discussion
After surveys are completed by employees, the results may imply that employees who have experienced the same teambuilding experiences would find that communication is a major result of communication. Likewise, they would find that team building is valuable to organizations who want to participate in bettering their communication and team skills. Those people who did not participate or lacked the motivation to see the final results would not communicate with his/her superiors or subordinates as well as others who pursued the team building exercises with an open mind. In order for employees to be productive at work they must communicate and utilize the teambuilding skills.
One can hypothesize that teambuilding techniques are performed most successfully through interpersonal communication. In organizations employees must talk to one another via all different methods of communication. One on one interpersonal communication is most effective when trying to deliver a message directly to another person. Therefore, if this type of communication is tied in conjunction with team building techniques, the employees in the organization may ultimately be more productive. This topic is especially important to the current demise of corporations struggling to survive in an economic climate of do more with less business practices. As companies find themselves feverishly fighting for greater pieces of global market share and working with fewer resources to accomplish their goals, they must find the most cost-effective methods of using their employees to achieve success. No matter the corporation, whether big or small, its superiors and subordinates must communicate with each other in order to accomplish goals. The better the communication is, the more effective they can be individually and as a team. Employees who do not participate in team building experiences would probably not communicate regularly or very well with his/her co-workers or superiors. Without regular communication employees are unlikely to be as productive as those people who communicate in order to ask questions, deliver instructions, express concerns or ideas.

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