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Team Building for Student Organizations


Your organization is ready to roll; your officers are enthusiastic about beginning the year, and your returning and newly recruited members are eager to contribute. There are two important steps to take before you just plunge into the year's activities - building your group into a team and determining your goals for the year.

"Team Building" is the process of forming several (or many) diverse individuals into a "team," a group that has several things in common:

In order for your team to work together effectively, they need to feel comfortable around each other. The more they know and appreciate each other as people as well as contributors to the organization, the better they'll work together.
Much of this information and appreciation will evolve naturally over time, but the school year is so short, that in order to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings or difficulties, it is very helpful to speed up this process. And it's easy to do!


One of the most efficient and effective ways to "do team building" is to set aside a two or three hour block of time very early in the year. A comfortable, informal environment works best - someone's living room, a carpeted meeting room where you can all sit on the floor, a quiet lounge with comfortable furniture. Make team building your only agenda item.

Your task is to share with each other information about who you are, what you think about the organization, how you expect you'll fit in. The following questions are examples of those you can ask to start the discussion and keep it on track. Make sure each person answers every question. The point is to listen to each other.


While team building is essential to newly formed groups or an organization with a large number of new members, there are other times it can be effective as well. You might find it helpful to use team building techniques when:


Self-disclosure/Relationship Building

Helps break down barriers and allows members to get to know one another on a more "intimate" level. Very appropriate for groups where people will be working closely together and/or for groups where members will be together for a long period of time.


These exercises generally rely on some form of physical contact but have the added element of requiring participants to trust one another in order to complete the activity. These are appropriate in most any group, but be careful that members are not pressured into participating.


Helps people learn to work together. These exercises can give an indication about the roles members will play in group situations, e.g., thinker, leader, organizer, dominator, follower, encourager. These are appropriate in any group, particularly if tasks demand teamwork.

Group Tasks

Everyday tasks that must be accomplished by the group are done rather than contrived activities. This is a superb method for increasing member involvement and commitment in any group. This is oftentimes necessary for a group to remain a "group."

After you have completed your team building exercise, it is necessary to spend time as a group discussing this experience. Part of any team building process is sharing what has been learned and experienced; what members liked and dislike; and, most importantly, how they felt while participating. Team building is hindered if inadequate time is allotted for discussion, or if individual feelings surface and are not dealt with.