Team Building & Team Bonding and Team Recognition Are NOT Synonymous


In conversations with various managers and supervisors while I was preparing to write my book, Thanks! GREAT Job!, I discovered most people were confused by the distinction between Team Building & Team Bonding Team Recognition. So, what is the difference?

In the nearly 13 years he has been delivering workshop experiences, my colleague Robert Manolson of Powerful Play Experiences, Positive Workplace Mental Health…For Teams! says that, “99.9 per cent of the inquiries I receive are for “Team Building & Team Bonding” workshop experiences. But when I ask the individuals who contact me for a definition of Team Building & Team Bonding, everyone’s responses seem to be quite varied.”

Robert says that even though everyone’s responses seem to be quite varied, a very high percentage of people agree that Team Building & Team Bonding includes the notion that it’s something to do with building relationships. Building relationships is also an outcome of Team Recognition. However, there are important distinctions in timing and purpose between the three ongoing processes.

Team Building & Team Bonding is a before-the-fact ongoing process that lays the groundwork for future team success. It creates, maintains and strengthens relationships, and builds trust and respect among co-workers. It will improve the work climate, get people working better together, and contributing in ways that will help the organization achieve its goals.

Team Recognition is the after-the-fact ongoing process that acknowledges the team for its contributions and celebrates its achievements and successes in meeting its goal and acting in ways that reflect the organization’s values.

Part of the reason that the distinction between Team Building & Team Bonding and Team Recognition is blurred is that similar activities may be used to create a sense of team or to acknowledge how a team contributes to the organization’s success.

In my book Thanks! GREAT Job!, I provide examples of how similar activities can serve these different purposes:

  • Inviting team members to get to know each other while sharing a meal is Team Bonding. Inviting people to meet for dinner to celebrate reaching this quarter’s production targets is Team Recognition.
  • Going golfing with co-workers to improve morale is Team Bonding. Taking the team to a golf course to mark the end of a project is Team Recognition.
  • Asking each person to identify strengths, interests, values, and how this contributes to organizational and team success is Team Building. Celebrating how team members successfully combine their strengths to complete tasks ahead of schedule is Team Recognition.

What I didn’t note in my book is that even though the purpose of Team Recognition is to recognize everyone’s contribution to team success, ( after-the-fact ongoing process ), the added benefit of getting everyone together is that this also contributes to Team Building & Team Bonding amongst all team members.

Team Building & Team Bonding, before-the-fact ongoing process, that is planned and organized by Robert Manolson, Creator & Facilitator Powerful Play Experiences, emphasizes COOPERATIVE PLAY AND FUN AT WORK to deliver powerful messages about: Workplace Relationships; Communication; Positive Workplace Mental Health…For Teams.

About The Author

Article is written by my friend and colleague, Nelson Scott of Sea Consulting.  Learn more about Nelson at and check out his amazing and informative book Thanks! GREAT Job! at

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