Ok, this blog is taking a detour from my usual blogs. It isn’t based on a movie – instead, I came across this YouTube ad that made me kill myself laughing, but at the base of it, it is entirely accurate.
You know that when you bring up “team building” to your team, in their head, your team is thinking, “please don’t make me hold hands.” This is because there have been so many team building fails over time. Things that make people uncomfortable, irritated and feel like they are wasting their time. So first, watch the video, cause it’s hilarious, but also because this is the wrap that team building has gotten and even a big part of why people THINK they hate team building. So what is the piece that doesn’t work?
None of us are created equally, and not everyone is good at everything. Races, challenges or games that pin employees against each other aren’t always fun. Example – I am not the fittest of all people. I can lead horses, lift heavy things, but as far as endurance goes, it just isn’t my thing. Let’s put it this way; if it came down to a fight or flight situation, I would have to fight as flight will just leave me caught and winded. So if someone mentioned to me that we were going to do a rally race or something along those lines, I would dread every moment leading up to it and hate every moment of it. Why? Because I would be embarrassed and probably let the rest of my team down. It would put me in a situation of extreme anxiety, which doesn’t equal a fun day for anyone.
Trust is something that must be built, not forced. You’ve heard of the “trust fall” activities? So what if it fails? What about the guy who is the biggest in the office, someone who REALLY doesn’t want to do it? What is the flavour they have left with in their mouth afterwards? Nothing good! Trust can’t be something that is built by people catching you. Yes, I get the symbolism of it all, but think to yourself, “what is trust based on?” And even if your entire team did catch you? Would you trust them all just because of that?
Let’s face it – we don’t want or need to share our secrets. I heard a story where everyone had to sit in a circle and explain one thing that bothers them at work, a person, a policy, anything they wanted. Well, the biggest issue at work was their boss at that point. So now they are all left with a choice. Do they throw the boss under the bus? What if they are the only one that speaks up? How will this forward their career? Honesty is fantastic, but not always in a group atmosphere where we are putting ourselves out there for judgement or being the butt of a joke. So what did they do? Everyone picked some bologna thing at work that ticked them off, but no one actually spoke about the boss. So, in the end, nothing changed except they ordered some more pens for the office.
A lot of feedback for team building, even when it was great or fun, can be that it was a fun day, but there really wasn’t anything that will change at the office. There was no skill built; there was nothing that could be brought back into everyday life at work. And for days like that that aren’t very fun, people end up feeling like they wasted their time.
But team building can be magnificent!
I’m not saying that team building is a waste of time or money. It can be a great way to get your team on the same page and moving forward. But it has to be done right! With a sense of collaboration vs competition. Building trust vs forcing it. And with skills that can be brought back to work to actually BUILD A TEAM (crazy thought, right!?)
So what does a team building day like that look like? Well for us it is a day outside of the boardroom working with horses to get a team on the same page. A day that pushes people outside of their comfort zone without causing anxiety. A day that focuses on communication, mutual respect and understanding as well as getting your team to their peak performance. Plus a day that is a TON of fun for EVERYONE! No physically demanding races, no hand-holding, no BS. Just skills that amp your team up and bring them to a place where they can increase their performance on the job.