Team Building Tips: Gaining Clarity: Why Recreation and Entertainment are NOT Team Building

Team Building vs. Team Recreation

1. Don’t Confuse Team Building with Team Recreation and Entertainment.

I’m all for fun. In fact, the fun factor is always a part of any business team building simulations that my company (Executive Oasis International) offers. When I am organizing a retreat, I always make sure that there is some recreation and entertainment built in. BUT…there is a disturbing trend in corporations and I am going to address it in a number of blog entries.

Many organizations treat the terms team building and team recreation as if they are interchangeable. They aren’t and it is important to understand the differences. The key is to determine what you require and articulate this clearly to your assistant or the person who will be contacting prospective suppliers on behalf or your organization. Here is a tool that will help your administrative assistant or coordinator pinpoint what your company requires.

Free Team Building Planner & Selection Tool [.DOC]


So, what’s the difference between team building and team recreation?

Team Building

Team building seeks to enhance team cohesiveness and performance to improve business results. In team building initiatives, a facilitator guides teams through the predictable phases of team development often described as forming, storming, norming, and performing.

Team building can be delivered on-site at your company premises, off-site as a day session or at a hotel or resort involving overnight stays, locally or at a foreign destination.

Team Recreation
Team recreation is intended to get your team out of the office for a time of relaxation, recreation, and leisure. Team members participate in an activity for fun and to get to know each other better. There are no specific business objectives or outcomes. However, it is hoped that if team members are more relaxed and comfortable with each other, this will improve interaction and communication at work.

Many team building sessions involve recreation, however, recreation is a means to an end, not the end. Let’s be clear. Team building isn’t paintball, rock climbing, drumming, bowling, cooking, or going out for drinks or dinner. That’s team recreation.

Yes, team building can include recreational activities but a recreational activity is not the same thing as team building. Just because a group gets together and engages in an activity that is “fun”, does not make the activity “team building”.

Team Entertainment or Corporate Events

This is strictly for pleasure. It could be an active pursuit such as an Improv night with audience participation or something more passive like a dinner, concert or even dinner theatre.

If you want entertainment or recreation, then that is what you should call it. Why try to pass it off as “team building”?

There is a place for team socials and recreational corporate events but they should never be confused with or used as a substitute for team building.

Executive Oasis International

Executive Oasis International offers facilitated team building as well as corporate events that are recreational but we will never mislead our clients buy passing off fun and games as “team building”.

I’ll post more about this later but in the meantime, here are a couple of other relevant blog posts.

Other relevant blogs:

Update:   I promised that I would post more about this later and I have:

Here is an excerpt:

It’s simple.
– too much focus on activities of questionable value
– not enough focus on results.
– too little tie-in to the business
– no attempt to measure return on investment
Drumming, hot air ballooning, paintball, or grape stomping (that was featured on the Apprentice a few seasons ago) and we’ve passed it off as team building?
Read more here:

Why companies are cutting team building?

13 thoughts on “Team Building Tips: Gaining Clarity: Why Recreation and Entertainment are NOT Team Building

  1. Angi says:

    I love the way you separate team building from team recreation, I am a principal at a school and some of my assistant principals really don’t get this.

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