We all know that successful teamwork is the key to productivity in many aspects of work. And whilst most teamwork is found through generic work practices and sound motivational and leadership actions, there comes a time in the year when people need a bit of a gee-up. And this is when the suggestion of some sort of ‘team-building-thing’ is often thrown up.
A big fan of these in principle, I find it’s best to approach the design of these however with extreme caution. After all, a weekend in the Yorkshire Moors may sound like a whole load of fun when leafing through the brochure in July. But is hauling Dave in sales out of the Malham Tarn during a gale in October really the ‘bonding’ you’re hoping for?
Hideous memories of off-site events I've attended in the past also colour my view on what is a ‘good’ event... It’s fair to say that I don’t like my ‘fun’ forced on me. I’ve also never knowingly wanted it to include the words ‘boiler suit’ and ‘telegraph pole’ either. So, early in my career, having been shipped off to a forest somewhere off the M3 with 30 or so other colleagues dressed like prisoners, I spent over an hour sweating profusely after seeing the 40ft wooden structure we were told to scale, weighing up my two options: escape or tears. Tears won. And after lots of (half-hearted I have to say) encouragement from the facilitator, I dissolved after the second rung, only to feel like a total d*** in front of my colleagues. Thanks team building!
So here are a few suggestions which should avoid tears and tantrums, not to mention a large bill.
Simple, easy, cheap and works far far better than you would expect, my go-to team building activity is to get a few Lego kits together. Choose kits which are not over complex ( the Millennium Falcon, for example, is probably a tad excessive here…), split up the teams and ask them to work together to build.
Or rather a variation of one which is more close to home. Ask the team to provide obscure facts about themselves (famous people they’ve met, embarrassing moments etc) and incorporate into the questions to inject a bit of “You did what?!” to the event.
Lights, Camera, Action!
The days of iphones and ipads have brought movie making within reaches of all of us. Split out into teams, choose a series of themes (which may or may not correspond to workplace situations) and give them two hours to come up with a production.
There’s few self-respecting start ups which don’t have some form of table tennis/ football table they can use here, however if you’re lacking in this department, you can pick one or more of these up on the internet for small change. Simply set up and create a league table of pairs.
But at least my experiences were never as bad as those conveyed by my oldest and dearest friend, who, upon landing her new swanky and very senior role at a national pub chain, skipped off merrily to attend a two day event with her new management team. It turns out that one of the obligatory ice-breakers was placing a spoon between her cheeks (yes, those ones!) and walking (waddling?) across the room without dropping the spoon…. I can't imagine what the facilitators of this torture were trying to achieve with this exercise, but I’m sure they hadn’t got in their objectives the words “termination of contract”....
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Photocredit: Bogdan Morar Teambuilding