Hire Anne T. , a brainy Consultant from Toronto, Canada | Expertbase

Quick Summary

Team fun? For the right group this could be a blast... tons of laughs. Exercise? Absolutely. Team building? I don't think so.

Team Building: How To Avoid Team Building Gone Bad

Team Building
60
5 min
845 Words
2.03 K
Every time I say that I'm not going to do any posts about the difference between team building, team fun, and team frivolity, something new pops into my inbox or social media stream.

This appeared a few minutes ago in the stream of someone I am following on Facebook.

"Looking for a fun new team building activity or party idea? How about HUMAN FOOSBALL!"


It kind of reminded me of the human rubber band that crosses into the territory of team frivolity and the human slingshot which is just plain silly.

My only question is how does company could cost-benefit justify spending money on this? Hey, if it's just for fun, whatever floats your boat. Anything that gets people laughing and gives them some exercise couldn’t be all bad…but it’s not team building.

So I started wondering, "How frivolous can we take it?" Are we going to see human "whack a pooper" like in the Super Jackpot Party slot machines.

I’ve learned that whenever I say something "off the wall", I have to come back and post an update "Guess what folks, crazy as it may sound, yup, somebody is doing it". So give me a few seconds to do my homework this time.

Now this is team frivolity of the highest order. Are people really that bored? My only question is…..WHY?

I would never recommend any of these activities but it is important to remind companies that go this route in the name of "team fun", it's very important to have an alternative for team members who have physical challenges.

Michael Cardus of Create Learning and I recently did an interview for NPR called Paintballing The Boss: Office Team-Building Exercises Gone Bad. While I shared a lot of team building tips with the interviewer, understandably, only one small part of what I said made it to air.

None of the activities mentioned in the NPR programme or so far in this blog post represent real team building. Yet, a lot of what was discussed is passing for "corporate team building". In fact, it's not team building. It's team fun at best or team frivolity.

In the interview, I also mention adrenaline junkies imposing their idea of fun on the group. This Bookings.com commercial is a fabulous spoof of the adrenaline junkie. What a great send-up! Anyone else have a good laugh every time they see it?

When it is appropriate, I am a big believer in using activities or gamification as part of the mix for team building. Use activities and games under the wrong scenario and you could have a real problem. For example, if a company has just gone through massive lay-offs, if the team has a lot of conflict, if team members have burning issues they need addressed, definitely don't start with games or an activity.

Unfortunately, many companies who have had a habit of substituting fun and games for real team building eventually show up in the headlines announcing massive lay-offs, sometimes on a global scale. It reminds me of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. A more prudent approach would have been to pull the teams together for facilitated brainstorming sessions to generate ideas to resolve the companies issues.


Main Take-Aways:

* Team building is not an activity. While sometimes team building includes activities, it’s not always appropriate.

* Fun and games are not team building. When appropriate, gamification can enhance team building, provided all of the essential building blocks for effective team building are already present.

* Substituting activities for team building gives team building a bad name.



How to Avoid "Team Building Gone Wrong"

So how can companies make sure that team building does not "go bad"?

1) Be really clear about your objectives.

2) By all means, schedule some time for fun but never think that an activity is a substitute for real team building.

3) Avoid anything that is extreme or risky. As I have previously cautioned, extreme activities that could jeopardize the safety of team members have no place on the corporate agenda.

4) Be sure that you allow enough time for team building.

5) Start with an executive briefing to set the context and clearly communicate objectives. (The operative word in briefing is brief so keep it brief.) Optimal Timeframe: 15 – 30 minutes

6) By all means, use an approach that is fun when this is appropriate.
Debrief all team building thoroughly. (Minimum: 1 Hour including preparation and discussion.)

7)Carve out enough time for business application exercises. (Minimum: 2 1/2 hours)

8) Segway into a business meeting or have a member of the executive team return for a much deeper look at company issues, challenges and opportunities building on what the groups generated through business application exercises.

This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Anne T. who travels from Toronto, Canada. Anne is available for Professional Consulting Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

Your Comments

Your thoughts matter to others - more than you can imagine.

More Articles published by Anne

5 Free | Ad-Free | Full-Text Business Papers
More Articles written / submitted by Anne T.
Entrepreneurial

From Employee To Entrepreneur: Taking The Plunge

Before you decide whether or not running your own business is right for you, start by pinpointing your area of expertise and assessing your aptitude for business.
50   |   3.75 K   |   12 min
More Articles written / submitted by Anne T.
Team Building

From Corporate Survival To Corporate Success: The Name Of The New Economic Game

Team and Organizational Survival Strategies for Turbulent Economic Times
50   |   3.84 K   |   18 min
More Articles written / submitted by Anne T.
Team Building

Calculating Team Building R.O.I.

7 Steps to Building a Business Case for Team Building
50   |   2.03 K   |   2 min
More Articles written / submitted by Anne T.
Team Building

Misusing Team Building: Words Of Caution For Executives!

Team building is not a cure-all but it is an effective tool to help executives harness the expertise of team members.
50   |   901   |   4 min
More Articles written / submitted by Anne T.
Recruiting and Search

Talent Recruitment During Turbulent Times

Before we get caught up in the inevitable panic whenever the stock market plunges and the economy spirals out of control, it is important to take a more long-term view.
50   |   5.23 K   |   12 min

More 'Team Building' Articles

13 more Articles that may interest you, too...
Anne T. : Misusing Team Building: Words Of Caution For Executives!

Misusing Team Building: Words Of Caution For Executives!

Team building is not a cure-all but it is an effective tool to help executives harness the expertise of team members.
901   |   50
Allan M. : Managing Team Conflict

Managing Team Conflict

A major advantage a team has over an individual is its diversity of resources, knowledge, and ideas. However, diversity also produces conflict. As more and more organisations restructure to create teams the need for training in conflict management will continue to grow.
5.41 K   |   50
Tyler  H. : Debriefing Your Team

Debriefing Your Team

Countless leaders struggle to get their teams to participate authentically in discussions. The typical pitfall is in their approach because they do not consider several key components that dictate a group's openness to actively participating in a discussion. We will explore those components here and see how truly easy it can be to get your group talking.
3.45 K   |   50
Peter B. : Coaching Virtual Multicultural Teams

Coaching Virtual Multicultural Teams

Is historical cultural context affecting your team?
967   |   59
Allan M. : How To Move The Team Through The Stages Of Team Development

How To Move The Team Through The Stages Of Team Development

Unfortunately, many managers do not get the necessary training or coaching in this area of team development and as such teams go through a lot of stress and turmoil when perhaps this could be minimised quite considerably.
50.8 K   |   212
Allan M. : Team Development - It's On The Cards.

Team Development - It's On The Cards.

What are the challenges that managers face in developing their teams and what can be done to support them?
3.24 K   |   50
Allan M. : The Motivation Partnership - Managers And Executives Working In Harmony

The Motivation Partnership - Managers And Executives Working In Harmony

After extensive research (of my own personal, and others' motivations) I have discovered that in order to produce 'self motivation' in others, a manager should concentrate on four key factors.
5.43 K   |   51
Anne T. : Calculating Team Building R.O.I.

Calculating Team Building R.O.I.

7 Steps to Building a Business Case for Team Building
2.03 K   |   50
Albert E. : We Need Teamwork - But Is It The Only Useful Form Of Work?

We Need Teamwork - But Is It The Only Useful Form Of Work?

Two of today's buzzwords are Team and Teamwork. Those with a particular desire to conform to the spirit of the age portray them as the polar opposite of individual achievement, which embodies everything that is bad and "out", whereas teamwork is good and "in".
9.26 K   |   50
Peter B. : Managing Global Projects - Facing Cultural Challenges?

Managing Global Projects - Facing Cultural Challenges?

Ever experienced an 'unbuffered' learning experience? The kind that develops global competences?
834   |   50
Anne T. : From Corporate Survival To Corporate Success: The Name Of The New Economic Game

From Corporate Survival To Corporate Success: The Name Of The New Economic Game

Team and Organizational Survival Strategies for Turbulent Economic Times
3.84 K   |   50
Prof Sattar B. : Building High Performance Organisations

Building High Performance Organisations

Using results-based leadership (RBL) framework
1.35 K   |   60
Gary M. : Football [1] Business [0]

Football [1] Business [0]

YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING!!!
2.41 K   |   50
Back to top
60