Apart from the very first months at your new job, we have to admit that every company has its problems. And if you are a worker, you know this is true. There are many problems in working teams, like poor communication, unsolved conflicts, groupthink or bad leadership.
But, every company has team buildings. Going to a remote location with your working mates for a weekend is the leaders’ solution for resolving all these problems. There is only 20% percent of team building participants that actually enjoy the activities, while 20% don’t even want to be there. The rest of the 60% are just going with the flow.
There are numerous beliefs that support the idea of raising the level of team cohesion with team building activities. And so, the goals of the company will be achieved easier and more effective. They might act so, but there are a lot of disturbing factors that teams encounter that cannot be solved by this approach.
Leaders fail to solve these problems and implement the team building on too many levels. We have all felt awkward during some activities or hadn’t even participated. The progress of the team is not positively influenced by this kind of activities. Here are some arguments for the idea that team buildings are ineffective.
1. We still tend to spend time with the people we know well enough
Whether you are the newbie of the company or you are among the experienced ones, you will still spend the time with your team. This is because 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you are with these people, your teammates. You work with them, have lunch with them or just laugh at some jokes together.
And whether there are problems in your team, you will still choose to spend time with them and not with people that you don’t know so well. The fact that you happen to meet in the kitchen while having lunch, it doesn’t mean that you automatically feel close to those people. There are not so many that are open to that get-to-know talk.
2. It can be embarrassing for some employees
We all know that the activities organized at team buildings determine you to get out of your comfort zone. While this can be a good thing sometimes, it can prove to be embarrassing. All of us have principles that guide us in life. We all have insecurities. Things that we would like to keep more intimate.
Some games might prove to test our inner self. Or maybe they touch our sensitive emotional rope. The thing is, we would like to skip that. Feeling embarrassed among so many people is not the experience one would desire. It is not the appropriate environment.
3. Forced socialization can create hostility
Do you know that feeling you have experienced while being a child and your parents forced you to do something? Something you didn’t want to do at all. Oh well, it doesn’t mean that if you grew up, you can’t experience this feeling again. Most of the times, games at team buildings involve pairing with unknown people.
All these games have the purpose of getting to know each other better. Because being closer to your colleagues means that you can work easier in a team. Yes, it’s true. But this type of games doesn’t facilitate this.
Being embarrassed while dressed as a clown doesn’t help too much. Instead, games or experiences that make you feel comfortable will support the development of team cohesion.
4. Zero effect in the office
After a weekend spent with the same people you work every day, you will realize that those apparently amazing activities didn’t work out. You, as a leader, will see how nothing has changed. In the kitchen are the same groups that have lunch together every day. The teams’ composition is the same.
There are the same people that work together on the same project. The work environment doesn’t offer the opportunity to really get to know each other.
And a day or a weekend spent in the mountains doesn’t help. Nor does resolve the existing problems of bureaucracy or lack of appreciation. The change has to be made in the leadership style.
So, what to do?
Be a good leader. Listen to your employees. Focus on the things that really matter. Do you know how to solve the problems of lack of appreciation or poor communication? Create the environment for team bonding, and not team building.
Team buildings are more efficient if they are organized only for each team independently. But first, try and create a strong bond between the employees. Support and take part in the activities that encourage you to share experiences in a non-work related way.
The employees shape and represent the values of a company. Begin with them. A good leader encourages its employees to experiment. He creates the perfect environment for learning and mistaking.
Because both wins and fails shape and make us who we are. If we are more content with ourselves, we get to be more involved and willing to face new challenges. Our well-being really influences our level of happiness.
Who wouldn’t want his employees to be happy? This will solve many problems that arise among teams and will facilitate a stronger bond. The productivity level will increase and so will the level of content among workers. Don’t run away of icky problems and lead by example.
True leaders accept that not everything is as we always want. True leaders try to solve the real problems. Do not adopt some fake games that cover the real problems. Go to the root of the problems, face them and try to resolve them. Choose team bonding over team building.
About the author:
Thomas Lovecraft runs a small business in California. He likes Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain. He is an ornithology lover, an amateur songwriter and also a content strategist at BestDissertation. Follow him on Twitter.