We’re Doing What? This Isn’t My Idea of Team Building!
If you need to take a mental health break and want to have a few laughs, do an online search for team building gone wrong. You’ll find a selection of videos that for some are funny, and for others, bring back bad memories of their own failed team-building events. Here’s one to start you off.
Poor video Steve. He almost suffered head trauma. He obviously was a good sport for posting the video. However, he will now be remembered as the guy who took a gainer off the girl’s pink bike – not the man who sold the most widgets, an engineer who solved a pressing design flaw, or the executive with innovative ideas. We don’t know what this man does, but you get the point.
This month, I want to talk about team building and corporate training programs.
A company-sponsored team-building event can be a useful tool to bring diverse groups of people together or specific people, like new hires, or teams recently re-organized under new managers.
Studies have shown that workers are often more productive away from the office and can benefit from speaking to and working across, departments on shared projects and goals. The benefits can also apply to people working in service or manufacturing industries. When you change the venue, you can change the message.
However, one organizer’s idea of team building does not fit all. Trust exercises, puzzles, sports competitions, public performances, etc. are exciting to a lot of people. Hey, I can juggle and love jumping out of trees – let’s do it! But for others, whether due to physical limitations or intense loathing of an idea, these competitive team events are stressful – like “going to the doctor” stressful. Why would you do that to someone? Messages such as, try something new and get out of your comfort zone to spur creative team results, don’t work. It brings us all back to gym class where you were either picked first or last or hiding in the locker room so you didn’t have to participate at all.
Companies can run effective offsite programs that include social events and sports if it’s appropriate for your group. However, ask a department of working parents to spend a night away from their family and you inadvertently start an avalanche of turmoil as parents have to find overnight daycare and reschedule more than just their own lives.
If you decide to have a fun wine-tasting or cocktail-mixing event, you may be stressing people who don’t drink for medical, addiction or religious reasons.
My point – the purpose of team building is to build teams, not destroy people or force them into embarrassing situations, or call attention to personal attributes.
Training – The Flip Side
Let’s talk about how you can improve your teams and their performance through training.
Gone are the days when one person did one job. Employees are expected to be masters of multiple technologies and processes wrapped in company values and shared goals. One of the best ways to achieve these high-performing experts is through continued training, either formal classroom work, offsite workshops, or online programs.
Employees want job training and expect it as part of the job benefits. Training programs also build loyalty and shared skills. Training can be designed for the teleworker or the worker on the line. It can – and should – be customized to your company and the goals of your workforce.
And yes, you can combine training with corporate team-building exercises. Just keep your employees’ feet on the ground and not swinging from the trees.
I’ve included interesting resources and ideas to help you think through retreat and training exercises, along with a few laughs.
Contact me with your leadership and team questions. I’d be happy to build an offsite learning or training program for you.