Over the years, we have seen so many weird and wonderful ideas that even make our very own Thriller (where everyone is dressed as zombies and taught the famous Michael Jackson routine) look quite sane! These days, the team building options available to companies are almost endless and the Internet is awash with everything imaginable to do with a group. Long gone are the days when you had to choose between raft building or an assault course!
With all manner of extreme team building activities available, it is unsurprising that there has been some negative press. For example, over the last year, there have been some relatively cynical articles in The Guardian newspaper about team building.
My view is that problems can arise when the objectives of a session have not been properly defined or when an event has been poorly chosen.
One example that has always stayed in my memory was a company custard pie fight. With a specially-lined marquee tent, everyone was ushered in past a huge table piled high with custard pies. Once the rules were read out, the whistle was blown and it was a free for all. Custard pies were flying everywhere and I’m not sure how much team bonding actually occurred. Thank goodness we were not involved in the clear up!
A “real archer’s arrows in the throat” event also has remained in my memory for different reasons. With participants standing up, and with the metal tip of a real wooden arrow placed against their soft and sensitive throats, a qualified coach then placed an immovable wooden board against the other end of the arrow. Participants were then expected to defy every natural instinct and pace forward and, by way of physics, smash the arrow into pieces! I’m not sure this was quite what was expected by participants looking for a relaxed fun activity.
To be successful, organisers need to be clear what they are trying to achieve, so that they can ensure that their chosen event meets their requirements. One of the first questions we ask potential and repeat clients is, “What are your particular objectives?” Only then, can we identify suitable options and define the facilitation style to be adopted.
A particular session can be anywhere on the ‘team building spectrum’, including sessions that:
- are just for pure fun
- contain subtle business metaphors and messages
- are strongly focused on business messages.
We find that events can fit anywhere on this spectrum, and every occasion is different. However, fun always comes as default! Even in the most serious, objective-heavy situations, we use laughter to diffuse tension and create relationships.
As you can see from many of the photos on this website, laughter and enjoyment are critical ingredients of the options we offer. We focus on inclusion, to ensure that all participants have a great time.
One of the main reasons that we use performance-based activities like drumming, singing and Haka is that we have found them to be very useful in going beyond just pure ‘fun’ (even though they are hugely entertaining). Participants regularly feed back to us that they quickly understand the important business messages and relevance of what we deliver without ever feeling patronised.
So, please consider what you are trying to achieve with your next team building event, which will help us propose the perfect activity. We will continue to seek out and create new activities to add to our growing portfolio, so that we can continue to cover the full team building spectrum.
For more information about our team events, please contact us.
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