Does Team Building Really Improve Team Work? What Is Team Building Anyway?
I came across an article this week in the UK’s Telegraph and also from Peter Kelly, Vodafone UK about team building that raises some really interesting points. The article states that “Office “team-building'” exercises only succeed in leaving staff feeling more awkward about dealing with their colleagues”. A survey carried out by Vodafone UK and YouGov suggests “workers feel that some organised team-building activities can be a waste of time, and at worst, are toe-curlingly embarrassing.”
What made me laugh/cringe at the same time was some of the team building activities that teams had considered the most excruciating. These included:
1. Enduring bikini-clad ‘bed baths’ and massage from colleagues (What is a bed bath?)
2. Holding lingerie parties (I am sure approved by HR before hand)
3. Eating crickets as part of a ‘bush tucker trial’ style event (No animals were harmed in the eating of the crickets)
According to the survey, “adrenaline experiences like speed-boating and bungee jumping are considered the least effective team-building activities, followed by trust exercises such as being blindfolded and led by colleagues. Those deemed most effective are social events like going out for a drink or a meal, followed by volunteering and charity work”
The article went on to say that while many genuine team building ideas can be beneficial, it was important to get the basics right at work first. Survey respondents suggested the basics were:
1. Providing a more supportive atmosphere at work,
2. Enabling better team communication and
3. Offering tools for flexible working
The article raised a few key points for me. I mentioned some of these in a team building post lat year
1. The big point that it raised for me is that anything literally can be called team building, even Lingerie Parties apparently. It’s a fact that there is no formal qualification to be involved in team building or to set up a company. It’s not like being say a lawyer or accountant where you have to have a degree to work in those fields. What someone tells you may be a great team building program may in fact be useless. You may also have a great team building idea/program that is ruined by the organisation of the event or the facilitation. The facilitator may not know his specialist subject area. Anything can be called team building and it can be run by anyone.
2. You have to get the basics right at work first. You can have a great training/team development/conference/team building program but if there is no support from the organisation or a poor atmosphere back at work, the day won’t have the impact it should or inspire any type of behavioural change. How do you get the basics right? Ask your team or employees what they want and go from there.
3. Be really clear about what you want from your team building program. Once you are really clear about what you want,
1. Is it just fun?
2. Are you after just an activity?
3. Can you just take your team to the pub?
4. Are you just after the cheapest activity you can find?
5. What do you want to see at the end of the program? How will you judge the success of the program?
6. Do you want to the program to develop any specific behaviours or provide insight on anything?
Every company is different and will bring different things to the table. Check with the company you are using as to what the expected outcomes of the program are. How will these be achieved? How will the program be run? What have previous companies thought? What is the CV of your facilitator like? Do they have any case studies?
Check with your employees pre and post event about what they want to achieve in the team building event. What are they looking for? and what they thought post event. This will help you to make sure that you are running the correct type of program and will help you to plan what program to run next time around.
Remember, the label team building can literally be applied to anything. Taking some time to plan and research for your event and getting the basics right at work first will pay huge dividends for your team.