We’ve all been there: team-building that is so cringeworthy that it makes you feel more like bailing on the team rather than bonding with them. It can take many forms: overly sincere, too muddy, too childish or just trying too hard to make it ‘fun’. Nothing like enforced fun to ensure that it definitely won’t be fun for anyone.
The world team-building exercises in the world
This is one of those horrifying yet hilarious things to search on Google. Hilarious because the results are just so cringey. Horrifying when you imagine being made to actually do them for real. Here are some of the delights waiting for you:
● Taking a bath with your coworkers and bosses COMPLETELY NAKED. Apparently, the idea is that being naked makes everyone equal and then more likely to share their honest thoughts. We tried to think up situations that would make us feel like likely to share openly. We couldn’t think of one.
● Riding the Truth Train. The whole team sits in a circle and says what they don’t like about everyone else. This sounds like a scene deleted from Mean Girls for being, well, too mean. Cue emotional scarring, tears, humiliation and a broken team.
● Making the team do the boss’ favourite activity and calling it team building. For example, taking a bunch of urban office workers out for a 7-mile hike in the pouring rain without the right clothing so they get soaked. The trust falls won’t go well after that with how bad a mood everyone is in.
Pointers on what to try instead
1. Bar none, this is likely the single biggest predictor of whether your team building will be a success. Ask the team what they think the issues are and how they think they can be tackled. This gives everyone a voice and the sense of control in what’s going to happen which will help make it a success.
2. Spend some time thinking about what needs to be different and put a plan in place to get you and the team to that goal. If there are specific issues that you’re facing, these are clearly the things that you need to ensure are raised and, importantly, resolved.
3. Given that the performance of your team is so essential to your company’s success, don’t wait until there’s a problem to do a couple of exercises and think it’ll be a magic cure. Investing in preventing is going to be cheaper and more effective
4. Building and maintaining teams should be a constant activity and it can contain frequent low-key activities (bringing a mid-week breakfast for your team and asking how everyone is doing) and as well as annual mega events (like Buffer’s company retreat to Hawaii last week) and aboce all, dont forget the photo booth hire to get everyone close and snap the event! .
5. Avoid consultants who want to use a sharing stone as the basis of the team building. You’re working with adults; treat them as such.