Team Building or Corporate Day Out?

How many team building days are no more than what can be at best described as a corporate day out? What is the tangible value or benefit of such events balanced against the corporate price tag and does it really matter anyway? Perhaps strange questions to ask given I have a vested interest in businesses and organisations continuing to invest in team building activities. Or perhaps not, may be just raising awareness of the difference and posing the questions in the context of the current economic situation.

Times are tough commercially and there has seldom been a time where getting as much performance as possible from all elements of a business has been so critical. We are in a time where efficiency and effectiveness are paramount to survival, let alone thriving. Without doubt, a cohesive team working together to achieve collective optimum performance yields the best possible results for an organisation; no matter the business sector or team concerned. Such levels of teamwork and organisational cohesion do not come without considered development and attention – it doesn’t happen by accident it happens by design.

Pat Lencioni’s ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’, namely; absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results, are a good place to start in assessing an activity in terms of team building or corporate day out. If the planned activity does not address the dysfunctions in some way it is unlikely to be truly a team building activity. That is to say, teambuilding activities should build trust, facilitate challenging dialogue and encourage commitment and accountability whilst being focused on achieving results. All eminently possible through practical team activities involving objective appraisal and constructive feedback delivered which can be fun and delivered in an unusual environment. Arguably, it would be extremely difficult to address the dysfunctions without using interactive methods and more or less practical activities.

Quad biking, karting, a day at the races, clay pigeon shooting, etc. all fun, practical activities which teams can participate; however, team building? I don’t think so. Committing to participate in a CSR team activity, team challenge day, team competition, team ‘survival skills’ exercise, etc. all generally ‘hit the spot’ in terms of team building. Interestingly enough, both sets of activities are all probably pretty much in the same ‘ball park’ in terms of cost. When all is said and done, it is just a question of what is the real aim of the ‘activity day’. After all, enjoying social, fun activities together brings benefits to the team too, but let’s not call them team building.

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