Helping you mobilise your inner resources to achieve your dreams

A Team-building Day: does your heart SINK or SING at the thought?

Away days, team-builds – whatever you call them – when contemplating this post, I realised I have a bee in my bonnet about them: specifically, three aspects of their typical features. Perhaps you share the same bugbears?

Here are my concerns about what’s inflicted on teams, in the name of ‘team-building’.

sean17hFirstly, the dreaded mission statement:

Purists might prefer some tangible numbers, but in one way, this Viking Leader has the right idea – KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).  He clearly states the group’s three key objectives in a single sentence. Their goal is clear, simple to understand and succinct.

Have you attended a teambuild and been subsequently invited to consider the team’s mission statement? Did your brain switch off when more time was spent discussing whether it needed to contain two or more paragraphs, than why you were there in the first place? Did you catch yourself thinking….when’s the break?

The other thing I like about the cartoon is that the leader is articulating his vision for the team.  That is the job of the leader; it’s a key component of setting direction. Don’t make the mistake that teambuilds are fertile grounds for idea generation and creative brain-storming. Of course, it’s useful to invite comment on your proposal, but an expensive teambuild environment isn’t the right place for a forum. Almost inevitably, there will be someone on the team who wants to endlessly debate semantics, with an apparently inexhaustible thesaurus of alternate words for customer. Meanwhile, everyone else has disengaged, wondering….when’s the break?

Much more engaging is sharing ideas on how to achieve the mission. For example, ‘What new things could we do’; ‘What might we do differently?’

Secondly, teambuilding games:

swln87hSome teams LOVE paint-balling, keelhauling (I actually saw a team-building TV programme on this), climbing and so on.  But if that’s what you prefer, call it a team ‘day out’. Some team members find ‘games’ awkward, embarrassing and high risk, and some facilitators pay more attention to the enjoyment of the game rather than reviewing what delegates/attendees have learned from the activity. How often have you been involved in a long team exercise then spent just a few minutes on the review?

Even the review isn’t the sole point of the exercise: the key aspect is translating what’s been learned into day-to-day teamwork. Without follow-up or reference to the positive outcomes of the day, cynicism creeps in that the effort was just a waste of time.

Thirdly, insufficient time allocated:

My heart sinks when a client requests a teambuilding event and lists a whole slew of symptoms desperate for resolution and demonstrated by the toxic team – before proceeding to tell me they’ll allot a ‘whole day’ to the teambuild…(‘Except, can we start at 10.30a.m. and finish by 3p.m.? And the team will need a long lunch as there’s an imminent crisis to discuss….’) Need I say more?

Expectations need to be managed. Attendees may assume that teambuilds are meant to establish trust but they’re often intended as vehicles for employees to feel good about themselves, and each other, boosting morale.

Next week, in my final blog on teambuilding, I’ll share some tips I’ve discovered that make a real, practical difference to successful teams. In the meantime, if you’d like further help with your team and its performance, contact me on 01302 220221.

1 Comment

  1. Very sound advice, Angela.
    I’ve occasionally said to potential clients, if you want a good day out then engage an events management specialist. If you are serious about building your team then let us help you

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