Coveted by corporates across market verticals, team-building activity days are big business; whether they’re necessarily good for business is another matter. For every beanbag tossed, for every rock wall conquered, there’s a snigger from the sidelines that suggests not everyone is convinced that either team spirit or motivation will rise phoenix-style from the event.
So, given the expense, the organisational resources and the effort required to cajole and foster a collective positivity for the programme, are team-building events really worth it? There’s certainly no one-size-fits-all answer to that question; every team is different, its climate, conflicts and concerns all need to be addressed sensitively, but still with your overall objectives in mind. Whether your aim is to get co-workers communicating and interacting more effectively or to eliminate the hostility of workplace hierarchy, the activities and exercises you employ should be seen as a tactical task to be overcome rather than team torture to be endured.
The challenge for team-building event organisers is to get the buy-in from the team from the off. Whether it’s an away day or weekender, take a moment to consider selflessly. Think about what you’re asking in terms of commitments from those with families, handle issues between team members directly before departing and weigh up the physical and mental strengths and weaknesses of everyone before you pitch confident execs against employees with a nervous disposition. Unless everyone feels comfortable, participation will ebb – and if it does, any guilt or self-consciousness should be yours to bear as planner not that of the puller-outer. Likewise, the feedback you seek after the event should be read in confidence and serve as a way to adapt future events rather than penalise poor participation.
With the buzzword on team-building events being ‘preparedness’ then, you’re on target to help your team communicate better, interact more effectively, look at problem solving as a more collaborative process and trust fellow team members more. If this is what you’ve achieved, you’ll want to consolidate your success with further corporate fun and games and integrate regular team-building events into your organisational psyche. If you’re short on ideas or not sure which types of team-builders are right for your team, talk to an event management agency who’ll have a portfolio of tried and tested activity-based programmes for you to adopt. Couple that with providing a more open, supportive working environment with flexible hours and the best tools to do their job and you’re building a team that’ll work smarter and more cooperatively for longer.