Team building exercises generally gets a bad rap, often with good reason. Being thrown together in uncomfortable situations far out of your comfort zone is generally something people avoid like the plague. Let’s face it; who among us hasn’t dreaded the prospect of spending the day in an airless room, being regaled by the unfunny anecdotes of a low-grade rent-a-Brent in scenes reminiscent of the excruciating team building episode of The Office? However unfairly this may represent modern team building exercises, many of which have moved the game on hugely, the image is a difficult one to shake.
We spend around 7 hours a day working in close proximity with people, but often we barely take the time to truly get to know our colleagues. In the corporate environment, we don’t rely on our workmates to cover our backs, as those in the military or emergency services may do. It’s rarely a matter of life or death if a deadline is missed or a report filed incorrectly, therefore we rarely need to form such close bonds with our colleagues.
Obviously, there are exceptions to this rather sweeping generalisation, many teams do form genuine friendships, and can feel like a close-knit, extended family. That’s why, whatever the working relationship your organisation enjoys, team building is a win-win. If done well, close-knit teams can form even stronger bonds of trust and friendship, whilst more disconnected colleagues can become closer and more engaged, company culture is strengthened, which in the long term can only a positive thing for business. So, what are the best ways to form those bonds that can be so vital to the way in which businesses operate?
Monthly team drinks are a great way to bond and blow off some steam, but they’re not for everyone. Although one or two stalwarts will always attend, others may be unwilling or unable to attend regularly due to family commitments, the need to drive home, or the simple fact that they don’t like you very much. I once attended team drinks with just one other person, technically the smallest team possible. What that says about me I’m not entirely sure, but the ‘team’ had a good laugh anyway. For these reasons, it’s great to take some time out of the office or regular working environment to enjoy the true benefits of team building.
Activities that allow you to escape the confines of the office can have a wonderfully freeing effect on both participation and creativity. People are less likely to act within the traditional constraints of the corporate environment, and as they relax, allow their true personalities to shine through. Often, it’s better to take part in activities that don’t focus on leadership or structures that mimic the office environment. Having everyone on the same level, working towards a common goal can be much more productive.
Measuring the success of any such team building exercise can be hard to quantify, but it’s safe to say that if there were lots of laughs both during and after, a sense of having achieved something together, and maybe a few choice photo opportunities, then your efforts can be deemed a success.
Choosing a new activity that the majority of people are unlikely to have tried is always worthwhile. Any initial sense of trepidation and fear of the unknown is tempered by the fact that everyone will be in the same boat. This is the first time for all of you, so there’s no need to worry that you’ll be the only person feeling out of their comfort zone. Indeed, it’s a great way to encourage new ways of coming together, the benefits of which can then continue over into the workplace.
Here at Dorset Adventure Park, we do team building a little differently. Our packages are geared purely towards having fun and enjoying the outdoors in a whole new way. Action-packed challenges, guaranteed laughs, the very likely possibility of getting wet, and/or muddy, and with just a sprinkling of competition thrown in for good measure. Plus, you can even bring your own food and drink for that all-important team-bonding beer and BBQ afterwards.
Team building activities are rarely cheap (although here at Dorset Adventure Park, we like to think the prices for our Team Building Packages are very reasonable), but ultimately, this is an investment for the company. An investment that could result on happier, healthier, more collaborative staff, which can only be good for business (and a great way to convince your boss that what you’re doing is wholly worthwhile.)
It’s important to maintain the momentum gained by any team building event. Photos from the day can serve as a great reminder to bond over at the next team meeting, or over dinner or drinks afterwards. It’s an opportunity to connect over a shared experience and celebrate achievements, or simply laugh at the memory of your boss face planting in the mud.