Why Team Building is Bad
Why is Team Building Bad for Your Business?
What? Why is team building bad? Don’t we have a business that offers team building events? Well yes of course we do but we’re not really saying that team building is bad. There are some common myths around and we thought we’d discuss them to help you make the right choice.
In August 2018 the BBC website published an article by Alison Green where she was very critical of some team building events and although she is right that some team building ideas are terrible, we think she missed the mark quite severely and actually missed the whole point of what team building is about (clue – it’s in the name).
The most important thing to consider when booking a team building event is your objective. Alison talks about some quite obscure activities for a team building day such as circus skills or sheep herding and says, “the connection to those business goals isn’t quite clear.”
Sometimes a company will have a very clear goal whether that’s improving communication within a team or resolving some personality issues between dysfunctional team members. In that case a team building activity needs to be chosen that specifically tackles that issue.
But sometimes a team simply needs to get out of the office situation and bond. That might be as simple as going out for a drink or tenpin bowling. The power of getting out of the work environment and kicking back whilst having fun allows relationships to form, it allows people to relax, it allows hierarchies to fade so people can talk on a level. As soon as the conversation of ‘work’ is removed then people have the space and time to engage in a more caring, personal manner. That type of interaction forms relationships and if team members have closer, more understanding relationships then they will also find it easier to work effectively in the office.
Take time to work on the team
Alison says in her article, “Real team building isn’t about one or two events per year. Instead, it’s about how a team runs, day to day.” Now of course this is true that the well being and dynamic of the team should be considered every day and not just for one team building event each year. However, those specific team building days once or twice a yer actually are incredibly important. No matter how determined you might be to ‘work on the team’ at work, it is impossible to really focus on each other in that environment. You can’t get away from the pressures, the deadlines, the mounting emails and the fact that you are in your place of work. Mentally you are in a different place whilst in that environment.
It is so important in any part of your life whether it’s your relationship with your partner, your kids or your colleagues to get away from the routine. Get away from the place where ‘stuff’ has to be done. Whether that’s house chores or work deadlines. You need to remove those distractions and make a statement to yourself and the other people involved that today we forget the daily grind because we are focusing purely on each other.
What you will learn, and the things you discover in that hour, afternoon or week will carry through back to your office or home. If you choose not to take time to work on your relationships then they will suffer. And team building is essentially just working on your relationships.
Working on irrelevant problems
Another myth was presented when Alison said, “And oddly, many team-building exercises are based around solving artificial problems as a group, like building a balloon tower or untangling a human knot – things that aren’t likely to come up in our actual work for most of us.”
We believe that she is totally missing the point here. The team building activity is supposed to be removed from what you would normally do at work. We are trying to break people out of their familiar thought patterns, their familiar preconceptions of who does what role in a team. We want hierarchies to be removed. We want to push people into new places where they find creativity and confidence that they never realise in the repetitive patterns of their jobs.
By taking people out of those familiar situations they find completely new approaches, they realise new strengths in their colleagues and learn new things about each other. Certain activities engage both sides of the brain so they actually get you thinking in a different way. If done correctly then all of this happens under the disguise of having fun.
If a team learns the lesson that respecting each member’s role in a process and working together creates a better end result then who cares what activity they were doing when they learned that. The important part is that they learned it and now they can move forward as a team and tackle any challenge more effectively.
A team in today’s world needs to be dynamic, creative and adaptable as market places change rapidly and businesses need to pivot often. A team that can function in a highly effective manner, regardless of what activity they are doing, is able to move with the demands of modern business and create great end results no matter what direction the business moves.
Humiliating dance performances
And finally we want to pick up ion the criticism of, “humiliating dance performances.” And this is only because one of our most popular events is a dance event. The main one teaches Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance but we also offer many other dance styles. These events always go down incredibly well and work equally effectively for a small team building group or a thirty minute large conference energiser.
Here are some words from an event for 200 people at the annual conference and below you can watch the video from the same event. At the end of the video you can see one of the senior leaders giving his feedback on the day and we can tell you that he was anything but humiliated.
“Thanks so much for a great team building activity on Thursday, it went down really well and everyone really enjoyed it! The whole team loved it, including those of us with no co-ordination at all haha… we had a few people who said it was totally out of their comfort zone and weren’t overly excited when we surprised them, but by the end of it they were loving it too!”
Rosie Allen, HR Advisor, Campus Living Villages
A bit touchy?
We know this might look like we’re attacking Alison’s article and being a bit defensive but it is nothing personal about the author. It’s just that some parts of the message were fundamentally wrong and it’s only fair that a counter view is put forward to address that. She made some good points and did highlight some horrific sounding team building scenarios but they are not anything we have encountered.
When organising your team building event just be sure about what you want to achieve and the effect you want the session to have. From there you can gather ideas and see which one resonates best with your overall vision.
When choosing your team building activities it is crucial that they are inclusive. You do not want any of your team to feel left out or inadequate. We make sure that every event we provide is inclusive so everyone can enjoy it. We craft the sessions to challenge people but always make sure that there is a positive end result. Getting that balance right makes sure people feel a real sense of accomplishment at the end when they conquer the challenge whilst having great fun. Going out of their comfort zone and then achieving something special together has a very powerful effect on a team.
Watch the video below to see an overview of some of our events, browse the website or get in touch to find out more or book a session.