Developing a Rubric For Evaluating Team Building Companies

Evaluating Team Building Companies“Groups don’t become teams because that is what someone calls them.” – Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith1

Have you ever considered team building? It’s a scientifically proven way to improve your team’s performance in a fun, yet effective way. Learn how to clearly communicate as your group breaks out of their comfort zone and starts interacting with one another. By strengthening communication and interpersonal relationships, you strengthen trust and, thus, strengthen teamwork and overall team function as you also boost morale. It’s what we like to call a win-win.

“Team developmental interventions are key mechanisms that may be used to facilitate team effectiveness,” writes  Raymond Noe, author of Employee Training and Development.2

Simply put, team building works. So, it’s no wonder that “team building is one of the most commonly applied group development interventions in organizations today,” according to researchers Deborah Diazgranados, Cameron Klein, Eduardo Salas, Huy Le, C. Burke, Rebecca Lyons, and Gerald Goodwin.3

However, choosing to pursue team building is not the difficult decision. The hard part is finding the right team building company. A quick Google search for the phrase “Team Building Maryland” turns up 2,710,000 results. Yikes! Even if you do not scroll past the first page of results, which is typically true for 91.5% of Google users, that still leaves you with a pretty difficult decision to make.4 How do you determine which team building company is best?

Developing a Rubrics For Evaluating Team Building Companies

Using these 5 criterion as a guide, you will be better able to evaluate potential team building companies and find the right fit for you and your group.

1.  Is the company willing to customize its offerings to meet your specific goals? Did they ask you about your goals, timeframe, background of group, challenges/issues/changes the group is facing?

“Well-planned programs are delivered by capable facilitators who guide learning rather than dictate results,” says researcher Katherine Whitnah.5

When designed and facilitated by an experienced professional, team building IS an effective tool that can help positively affect business outcomes. However, each team is different and, thus, every team building program must be customized to meet the unique needs of each group.

“Team building activities should be designed, planned, executed and monitored so as to create synergy, increase skills and knowledge, create organizational flexibility, provide members satisfaction and allow members freedom to participate in decision making and implanting changes,” write researchers Jacqueline M. Omuya, David M. Kungu, Leonard S. Mulongo, and Dedan O. Ong’anya.6

When choosing a team building company, make sure that your needs and your goals are being taken into account. Team building is not a one-size-fits-all solution and you should settle for nothing less than a company that listens to your wants/needs and customizes a program to meet your goals and expectations.

2.  Do they have experience (number of people with 5 plus years experience in the field)? Do they have a track record/references of similar work?

The Geico Effect: It’s so easy a caveman can do it. Sorry, this is not the case with team building. While the concept may seem simple enough, team building is an incredibly complex experience that requires an experienced facilitator to not only lead your group through each event, but also through debriefing sessions after each event. These debriefing sessions are critical. They are designed to reinforce the lessons behind each team building activity and help apply these lessons to the daily challenges your group experiences in the office.

You need to ensure you trust your group to a qualified and experienced team building professional with years of experience and a track record of success. Don’t be afraid to ask potential team building companies for references or testimonials from organizations or teams similar to yours.

3.  Value proposition: Cheaper is not always the best value if all you get is a feel good experience.

What about focusing on value proposition from list of client and testimonials.  Would they or have they rehired team building firm?  What do these companies say about what value they got out of the experience?

When evaluating team building companies, look beyond price. While this is an important consideration, it should not be THE determining factor. First look to the company’s experience and track record for success. Does the company customize its programs to fit your needs? Did you feel comfortable talking to the company when you first reached out for additional information? Once you have your list narrowed down to your top three candidates using the above criteria, then – and only then -should you can take a look at price.

4.  Does the company offer ancillaries to enhance experience (catering, pictures, giveaways, etc.)?

Team building is only one part of the overall experience. Especially when you consider that most programs last for at least half a day, it is important to look at some of the ancillaries, such as catering. Does your potential team building company offer any sort of catering option, or are you on your own? Do they take pictures and videos of your event so you have a keepsake of the great time you’ve had? Do they provide giveaways or prizes to help motivate your team members?

As they say, it’s the little things that count.

5.  Does company follow up with you? Is there a built in follow-up to reinforce concepts learned during the initial session?

“In actuality, we would like to do multi-day programs or do a series of programs that follow up on earlier sessions either at our place or a company’s location,” explains Matt Baker, Terrapin Adventures owner.

Terrapin Adventures recommends a follow-up session every three to six months to reinforce team building lessons and help maintain group performance.  As researchers William J. Rothwell, Roland Sullivan, and Gary N. McLean explain, “Much of the research on team building suggests that teams that do a one-time team building session but fail to create any follow-up activities to reinforce what they’ve learned quickly regress to their previous behaviors.”7 The only way to sustain performance and change is through hard work and repeated team building interventions.

“When team building is coupled with follow-up sessions in which team building commitments are reinforced and renewed, the positive effects of the team building are prolonged,” writes researcher R. Wayne Boss.8

Why Choose Terrapin Adventures?

Conveniently located between Baltimore and Washington, DC, Terrapin Adventures is uniquely suited to provide a Team Building solution for any group. Our group facilitators and guides will lead your team through unique, exciting, and carefully designed Team Building activities that will help them think creatively and collaborate with one another. And all of our team building efforts conclude with a debriefing, where the group facilitators and guides relate the day’s team building activities into your group’s daily corporate workplace challenges.

We service Maryland and Washington, D.C., and have traveled to other states as well.

Schedule Your Team Building Session!

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at to learn more.

Works Cited:

  1. Katzenbach, John R., and Douglas K. Smith. “The Discipline of Teams.” Harvard Business Review (2005). Web.
  2. Noe, R. A. (2002). Employee training and development (2nd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
  3. Diazgranados, Deborah, Cameron Klein, Eduardo Salas, Huy Le, C. Burke, Rebecca Lyons, and Gerald Goodwin. “Does Team Building Work?” PsycEXTRA Dataset. Print.
  4. “No. 1 Position in Google Gets 33% of Search Traffic [Study].” Search Engine Watch No 1 Position in Google Gets 33 of Search Traffic Study Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2016.
  5. Whitnah, Katherine T. A Phenomenological Inquiry: In the Context of Organizational Development, How Does Experiential Team Building in the Form of a High ROPES Course, Contribute to Positive Leadership Development, and How Can It Be Improved? Adler Graduate School. Web.
  6. Omuya, Jacqueline M., David M. Kungu, Leonard S. Mulongo, and Dedan O. Ong’anya. “Effects of Team Building on the Performance of Employees in Organizations towards the Realization of Millennium Development Goals: A Survey of Selected Banks in Eldoret Town.”International Journal of Current Research. Web.
  7. Boss, R. W. “Team Building and the Problem of Regression: The Personal Management Interview as an Intervention.” The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 19.1 (1983): 67-83. Web.
  8. Rothwell, William J., Roland Sullivan, and Gary N. McLean. Practicing Organization Development: A Guide for Consultants. Amsterdam: Pfeiffer., 1995. Print.
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