When you work with a team of people, it obviously pays off if everybody knows and trusts each other, and has spent some time doing some things together that allow people to bond outside of the jobs you all do every day. Team building events have become a business staple because of this, and whether you work for a small agency or a big recruitment consultancy, you’re likely to either have to go to or organise these kinds of things a few times a year.
However, there are some concepts for team building that are so dated, uncomfortable, or just plain sad that rather than looking forward to them as a fun alternative to sitting in the office, people actually see them as a nuisance to have to go to. Here are three of the most common offenders:
Unless you are in America, you have probably never been out for a night of ten pin bowling with your friends – at least since you were over the age of 13. You have, however, probably been to bowling nights with colleagues before, because for some reason, it seems to be one of the go-to options for corporate ‘fun’. Go to your local bowling alley and you will see the usual kids and families, and then several teams of people from the same IT company or accountancy firm all awkwardly hurling balls into the gutter. Nobody ever seems very interested in the actual bowling, so it ends up just being a disruption to the drinking beer and eating hot dogs. Nobody ever wants to wear the shoes.
Paintballing can be really fun when you do it with your friends, or on a stag weekend. When you do it with co-workers, however, it is often less fun, mainly because it really isn’t for everyone. The young, competitive and athletic people get very into it, but chances are you have some people in your business who don’t really want to run or be shot at. It is also hard to play ‘properly’ because no matter how much you try and ignore office hierarchy, nobody wants to shoot their boss, or be the one who makes Emma from reception cry and sport a massive bruise on her arm for the next week.
‘Away Days’ with Roleplaying and Personality Tests
Not all team building events are just a case of getting everyone together for an activity. Some businesses will just plan a day away from the office at a hotel or something, for people to do team building exercises. These often make participants feel like they are in a workplace based sitcom, and not in a good way. There will be roleplaying, trust exercises, and some form of personality profiling, for example Meyers-Briggs. There may be team activities where problem solving is involved. It all looks quite useful on the face of it, but it feels forced, slightly patronising, and very dated to participants.
Doing activities together can be a good way to bond, but it is important to choose things everyone in your very specific group is going to enjoy and be able to do, and things which aren’t too clichéd and lame. Leave things like paintballing for groups of interested people to organise rather than making them mandatory team building events, and, if all else fails, just take everyone out to a nice restaurant or something and let them bond like they do with friends in normal life.
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