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Cracking the Code: Unveiling the Ingredients for High-Performance Team Building Success

One Friday evening, when we were travelling back from a successful Strengths Trail programme in North Wales, tired but happy, we made the most of the now familiar journey time by reflecting on what we had created with our Strengths Trail. We had been with a fantastic group for 2 days, exploring on and under the Welsh mountains. The team achieved great things, both personally, and as a group. It honestly is a beautiful thing to witness, and to be a part of.

Leaving North Wales after a successful high performance focused team building programme

There was literal beauty in the awe-inspiring scenery, which definitely played its part, but the long drive home had us reflecting on what makes our team build different, and got us thinking 'how can we share this with others to help them create events that drive the right outcomes for their teams?'

“what is the outcome you are looking for/have been tasked with?”

And the first question this poses is: “what is the outcome you are looking for/have been tasked with?” Always think about your why first. Is it just a bit of fun, or is there a deeper need to forge connections (let’s face it, in 2024 distributed/remote teams need to come together more than ever before!) and bind your team as a high-performing unit? If it is the latter, we hear you, and we have sussed out some key ingredients…

A quick google of team building solutions brings up a wealth of options (or a minefield of, depending on your view!)… it can be overwhelming, expensive and ineffective. Many events divide the audience in a bid to be ‘different’, alienate certain people and groups, or are tired and cliched, delivering very little impact, perhaps being, at best, forgettable, at worst, exacerbating the very issues they promise to solve. It is no wonder that the chosen option in many cases is a quick trip to a local eatery, a bar, or the go-kart track – simple, cheap, fun. But how much lasting impact do these events have? Do they meet the brief at all?

A quick trip to a local eatery or a bar may be simple and cheap and fun - but does it deliver the results you are looking for?

'Oftentimes, the chosen option is a quick trip to a local eatery, a bar – simple, cheap, fun. But how much lasting impact do these events actually have? What difference do they make?'

From our many combined years of Military, L&D and Managerial experience, we have witnessed MANY ‘team builds’, and we now know which building blocks really help you get to the ‘Team Build’ version – the one that actually makes a difference! (And delivers a return on investment.) If you want to provide entertainment AND lasting value, here are our 3 top tips which summarise our approach to team building:

1. Create shared experiences: Triumphs and tribulations, plus a common goal

The strongest teams experience something together. Something that unifies them. A common event they can all talk about moving forward, to reflect on fondly for years to come. (Anyone else worried at this point that some people never see their teams in person any more?!)

Some well-intended team building activities are at best ineffective, and at worst cause the very issues they seek to resolve

Your average team build can do this – everyone remembers that time where the team leader from accounts stacked his go-kart into the tyres on the first lap despite telling everyone for weeks he would win, right?! The winners get remembered for being good, maybe the losers for, well, losing.

But very often these types of events are pitching individuals against each other and, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether the team win or lose (apart from for the sake of office banter!).How about, instead, you create a situation where the team have to all come together in order to succeed? How much more conducive is that to effective teamwork and collaboration back in the workplace? In the best team-building activities, teams not only celebrate successes together, but also navigate shared failures together. These shared triumphs and tribulations form the foundation of a strong team bond, fostering a sense of camaraderie that extends far beyond the event itself, and which also provides shared learnings – what works and does not work, and how does this translate into the work we do?

Furthermore, it is great if you can create a sense of repercussion related to how well the team performs. If you think about it, some of the highest performing teams you can imagine do so because there is so much at stake – A&E teams, firefighters, the military to name but a few examples. (However, how many team builds/training sessions have you been on where it doesn’t really matter how you do? And can you even recall then who did well and how?! And don't get us started on the 'coasters'!) If you make the team building experience one where performance DOES matter, your team will experience high performance and understand the risks of lower performance. Once this has been experienced and understood, it can be replicated.

On our programme, delegates pull together in a scenario-based adventure to uncover a long-lost legend – the story is immersive, believable and memorable. But there are repercussions, for example, performance is the difference between army rations and a private chef (I know which I would pick!).

Benefits of a shared experience, common goal and repercussions:

Deeper Connection: Shared experiences create lasting memories that bind team members on a personal level.

Resilience: Facing challenges together builds resilience, preparing teams to tackle workplace obstacles with a united front.

Repercussions: Highlight the differences between low and high performance and help people feel the consequences so that the learning transfers into a more effective teamwork model in the workplace

2. Create opportunities to build professional respect

3. Build trust and psychological safety: The cornerstones of team success


By employing the principles above, you can go beyond regular team building and delight your teams with a fun and engaging experience, as well as being able to demonstrate a real return on investment to your organisation.

If you would like to discuss your next team build with us, please do drop us a line and we would be happy to expand on our building blocks for successful high performance team builds.

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