Why team-building exercises won’t make your staff more productive

Aytekin Tank
The Startup
Published in
7 min readJun 12, 2018


Originally published on JOTFORM.COM

Common sense tells us that happy, collaborative teams are productive teams.

Research backs it up, too.

But when leaders or managers utter the words “team-building,” most people want to run for the nearest exit. Visions of cheesy bonding exercises and trust-building games can induce a collective bout of nausea.

Twelve years after launching JotForm, I’ve learned to take a different approach.

Instead of worrying about how to optimize our teams, I want to nurture them.

What do they need in order to thrive?

How can we help them to grow?

In essence, I think of our multi-functional teams as living, breathing beings.

Yes, they are a collection of diverse and talented individuals. But at their best, they also operate like a single body. And just like plants, animals and people, teams have several basic needs.

Some team-building exercises can be useful but they won’t make your team more productive unless you nurture these five basics:

1. Nourishment

Developers often joke about running on pizza and coffee, but creative teams ultimately need exciting problems to solve.

They need a reason to stretch and strive for innovation. That’s their fuel.

In a Harvard Business Review article about leading creative employees, authors Richard Florida and Jim Goodnight explain that …

“… creative people work for the love of a challenge. They crave the feeling of accomplishment that comes from cracking a riddle, be it technological, artistic, social, or logistical. They want to do good work.”

They also cite a major Information Week survey that showed “challenging work” ranks considerably higher than even “salary” and other financial rewards as people’s top source of on-the-job motivation.

Your teams are eager to flex their creative and strategic muscles. Feed them tough…



Aytekin Tank
The Startup

Founder and CEO of www.jotform.com || Bestselling author of Automate Your Busywork. Find more at https://aytekintank.com/ (contact: AytekinTank@Jotform.com)