So you’ve managed to hire some of the best people in the business – that’s great! You’re well on your way to the top of your business… right?
Well, not necessarily. Much like any system out there, it’s not enough for an organization to have the best components – the said components need to be able to effectively work with each other as well. This is why team building activities became incredibly popular. What better way to build trust and teamwork than to implement policies and conduct retreats, right? Surely that will help people get along better than they ever have before!
Actually, some people say that they make things worse. Of course, this all depends on HOW you approach team building. By far, some of the worst things you can do are the following:
Mandatory company-sponsored outings
“Hey! Why don’t we all have fun together over the weekend? Fun makes us work together better, right? We all have to go.”
On the surface, this is seems like a wonderful idea – fun does indeed go a long way towards engaging people. However, this team building tactic can be less helpful and more harmful in that it potentially forces a definition of fun upon team members who don’t necessarily agree with it. And this can build resentment, especially from people who use the advanced business phone systems and emails on their smartphones to get as much work done as possible so they can spend their free time as they wish. If you try to muscle in on their weekend, they’ll likely feel disrespected.
If you’re going to have a team outing, never make it mandatory and make sure that it’s something that people actually want to do.
“The more we trust each other, the better we work together! So let’s have Annie fall backwards and trust that Bob, Charlie, and David will catch her before she gets a concussion.”
This only SEEMS like a good idea, but newsflash, almost always, it never is. The problem with trust exercises is that they are rarely apt for most work situations in which trust is an actual issue. And when you try to apply it to a work environment in which trust has never been an issue in the workplace, then you’re just being downright insulting. And that’s not even including the fact that trust exercises don’t necessarily strengthen trust in areas that matter, like a co-worker being able to deliver work on time, as well as the fact that their effects usually don’t last.
Unless you design trust exercises that make people trust in each other’s work, you’ll probably be better off addressing the QUESTION of why there is a lack of trust (if any) in the first place.
“You know what will REALLY get the teams to work together? Competition! Let’s run a contest and pit the teams against each other!”
Let’s get something clear here – this can definitely get individual teams to pull together and work with each other towards creative goals. But do you know what else it can do? It can inspire inter-department rivalries that are more likely to destroy the company you worked so hard to build. Remember, what you want to inspire in the organization is cooperation. When you organize a competitive event, the focus shifts away from organization, and you instead turn the attention towards proof of supremacy and excellence.
That is the reason why teambuilding events should be designed to reward people who help each other reach specified goals, and should rarely (if ever) have competitive elements.