This is a big one, as many of us recoil at the thought of team building due to its sometimes touchy-feely reputation. We cringe at the thought of revealing our innermost truths to our boss and co-workers around a hastily erected bonfire. However, this is a false belief as team building should be based entirely around its namesake – it is about building teams. This comes through creating trust by experiencing challenges as a group while working through the difficulties that arise. Trust, respect, and communication are the pathways to strong teams, not kumbaya circles, group hugs, and trust falls.
Team building will be cheesy
Beyond the touchy feely-ness of team building, we also fear it will be a dork-tastic cheese fest. Even those of us more comfortable with our personal level of nerdery feel a bit apprehensive at looking a fool in front of our bosses and coworkers. This is precisely why a round of karaoke, while sometimes entertaining, will not build strong teams. While it’s great to stretch and get a bit outside of our comfort zones, being cheesy will not bring us closer together – being engaged and challenged as a group will.
Drinks are enough
Who doesn’t love a good cocktail, right? While a frosty brew or perfectly shaken martini is a great way to blow off steam and have a few laughs together, it rarely leads to insights. This makes it a poor substitute for what we deem team building. In our mind it’s best to focus on the team first, then hit up happy hour later to relive the day’s events.
Once a year is enough
Have you heard about that new workout craze, you know the one where you hit the gym once a year but it’s super high intensity, high weights, high reps, with a focus on your core that leaves you ripped for the next 364 days? Yeah, neither have we. Team building is like working a bunch of different muscles – problem-solving, decision-making, strategizing, etc. It takes regular effort to keep these things – and your team – in tip top shape. Here at Adventure Associates we do an activity every week. While this may not be feasible for every company, quarterly activities can really keep a team running on all eight cylinders. Plus, don’t forget less formal activities that can be done during a lunch break. There’s no reason your team shouldn’t be honing its skills regularly.
There’s no ROI
As we live in an increasingly quantifiable world, often we’ll hear questions about the ROI on team building. It’s true, there’s not an easy one-to-one relationship between team building and profits, but there are a lot of other numbers that one should consider when investing in team building. One of those things is employee engagement at work, and unfortunately the number has been dwindling. Unengaged employees are difficult to retain and often start to look for work elsewhere. Replacing employees can be a huge cost burden on companies, which have to go through the hiring and training process all over again. Moreover, team building can strengthen communication skills which can help teams work more efficiently together, which subsequently affects productivity. A commitment to regular team building can have a tremendously positive ripple effect within an organization.
The effects won’t last
The first day of a new year’s resolution can feel great – you wake up and work out, eat no sugars or processed foods, and opt for a seltzer water instead of your favorite lager. Fast forward to a week later and you’re binge eating Entamen’s while splayed out on the couch in the middle of a three hour Netflix marathon. Sometimes we can worry that team building is a bit like that – the effects just don’t last. On the contrary though, we’ve seen some remarkable breakthroughs on facilitated team building programs, where barriers to effective teamwork and trust are taken down. Moreover, this is the reason we advocate regularly scheduled events such that the muscles of cooperation and collaboration can be strengthened.
Extreme activities are best
While zip-lining over a river of magma while being chased by attack falcons may sound pretty rad and make for some great Instagram photos, it’s not the best way to build a team. The same can be said for most other extreme activities. Remember, the key is engagement and creating an environment where everyone’s diverse skills are tapped at different times, while encouraging the kind of dialogue that builds trust. If half of your team is holding hands and shaking, then your event might be more scarring than enlightening.
Everyone will be besties
This is another common myth, that the intent is to make everyone best of friends. Look, we have no illusions that building a cardboard boat together will make everyone best of friends. Also, this isn’t a requirement for having a top-performing company. What is important, however, is building understanding and respecting diverse strengths among your fellow co-workers. These are things that can be developed and improved upon through skillfully administered team building events which challenge us to work better as a group.
One size fits all
Unfortunately, team building is not like buying a Snuggie® – one size does not fit all. To get the most out of your event you want to keep in mind what your goals are. Are you trying to work on how to give constructive feedback? Are you looking to better tackle complex problems as a team? While fun is always on the agenda, keeping these bigger goals in mind is essential for planning the right activity for your co-workers.
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