Team building is a concept that is rapidly gaining popularity in the corporate world as management realises the importance of happy workers, who all get along well with each other and function within a comfortable work dynamic. Charles Schwab said, “The man who does not work for the love of the work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life.” It is therefore important to make the work environment as pleasant and welcoming as possible. Many businesses like to boast of their family feel but very few of them actually practice that approach, preferring the cold formality that has defined the business world so far. Only a lucky few can say that they work in a truly comfortable environment where they feel at home and even look forward to coming to work each morning.
When the dynamic in an office environment is a bit iffy or a team is not working as it should for reasons varying from personality clashes to professional differences of opinion, it may be time to consider a team building time out. Team building events can last from mornings or afternoons only to whole weekends or even an entire week. The duration you opt for and the activities that you choose will depend on the nature of the problems you are experiencing. Perhaps you aren’t experiencing any serious problems at all and only want a fun day out for your staff, or want to do something different for your Christmas party.
There are a variety of reasons why companies might choose team building events, some of these include: to create cross functional efficiency; to ease any changes in management; to increase strategic planning initiatives; assist in culture development and understanding; adds value to a project start up or kick off and many more.
In deciding what activities you think your team should take part in, it is important to understand that team building is an ongoing process and not just a one off event. It is therefore important to have a strategy and to consider the following: 1) with what issues are your team battling? 2) What objectives would you like the team building activities to achieve? 3) Which issues are priorities that need immediate attention? 4) How are you going to plan follow up phases in order to reinforce the messages and make any improvements? 5) Can the principles and objectives be built on in the future, and if so, how?
Team building games or activities are often referred to as interventions, a more grown up term that implies that even though the activities are fun, serious outcomes are intended. If the game requires that the team is split into competing groups it is emphasised that winning or losing is not as important as what is leaned along the way. A selection of some of the games includes:
This game involves the team navigating through some poisonous terrain using limited resources and relying largely on team spirit. To successfully complete this task the team must use ingenuity, creative thinking, problem solving, planning, prioritisation, leadership and, of course, teamwork.
Search and Destroy
In this activity the team must get to a bomb using a terrorist’s booby trapped code, there is the added complication of avoiding competing SWAT teams. Here the team must use dedication and focus on the task at hand, they must also be able to think on their feet and collaborate well together.
In order to complete this task it is necessary to rescue injured teammates and get them through some difficult obstacles, including a Memory Minefield, which requires the team to learn from their mistakes. The exercise also requires trust and communication.
Crossing the Crocodile River
This exercise involves solving the problem of how to get everyone safely over a raging river without them being eaten by crocodiles or washed away by the strong current. There is the added element of your resources dwindling away if you lose concentration for even a minute. The focus here is on crisis management, team spirit and selflessness. It also highlights the necessity of being flexible in planning in a teamwork project.
Teams must navigate a 3D web without touching it; members help each other by shouting directions as well as encouragement and offering support when someone touches the web, because then its back to the start for them. This helps improve trust, time management skills, as well as delegation and logical thinking skills.
Reach for the Sky
This is a fun project involving lots of thought, planning and design. Team members must use equipment that is provided and assemble and launch a rocket that will fly on a horizontal plain. The purpose is to fly further than the other teams. The emphasis is on teamwork, collaboration, leadership and goal orientation.
This is a small group activity whereby a group is given a bungee cord and a rope and have to figure out how to transport a bucket of “toxic waste” in order to tip it into a neutralisation bucket. This exercise can be used to address just about any aspect of teamwork.
These are only some of the activities that events companies use in their team building days. For something that is more adventurous some companies offer activities such as safaris, bungee jumping, white water rafting, camping, 4×4 drives, rock climbing and so much more. Your options for team building are virtually endless as are the opportunities for fun and learning. And if team building is not what you are after, employees always appreciate a fun day out of the office, whatever the reason.