Building catapults with straw
In an attempt to improve team morale, team cohesion or team output you may consider organising a physical activity as a team building event. Please think again.
All of our Programme Directors have been on many indoor and outdoor team building exercises and greatly enjoyed the vast majority. They had a lot of fun, constructing catapults, building river rafts and attempting military style assault course outside. Inside, they sang opera, learned to dance and attacked business games.
There was plenty of laughter, fantastic food and the odd glass of vino. But did the event help bond the team and contribute towards sustained improvements in performance or extra output? Unfortunately, not. Any benefit may have lasted only a few days at most.
We would urge you to think really carefully before travelling down ‘the event’ road. For the majority they are a waste of time and money. And yet, we still occasionally witness a blindfolded person bumping into trees, surrounded by his or her teammates in hysterical laughter.
Save your money.
Our approach is quite different. We focus on inter-person communication and the celebration of differences. We believe that team output can be significantly increased through exercises which lead individuals to a greater understanding and appreciation of the skills and strengths of their colleagues. And their weaknesses.
The following comments were recorded following iSolon Team Development Workshops held in London:
“A thinking course that challenges what we do and how we can be best at what we do”
“It will make a difference, for the better, to the way we all work”
“A course to make you think and focus on the key areas – excellent”
“Great to understand how good is no longer good enough – a real drive for practical action”
“This helped me to re-establish how information could be used and encouraged me to consider my continued contribution to the business”
“Stop and think! Identify what is important and what is noise and then focus accordingly”
“Very informal, had a laugh which made the subject less scary.”
Without any external spend, you, as the team or commissioning manager could consider splitting the group into smaller units and allocating a non-work subject for them to debate and discuss, eg, “If we all decided to donate a half-day’s pay to a good cause, what would you like to support?” Given enough time, and a little facilitation, this type of challenge gets people talking about their interests, passions even, especially when the sub-units are gradually merged.
Or if you had a very modest amount of money at your disposal, you could take a look at discovering and then asking the team members to discuss their individual preferred Belbin Team Role Types or Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Or both. And please allow double the time or more that you have provisionally allocated so that superficiality and artificiality can be gradually eliminated. Contact us for help to set these up.
We have also enjoyed considerable success by using Edward de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ model at team meetings. This model can be used to determine the best way forward when there are many options to consider. And it’s quick and it’s fun! Particularly if the coloured hats are actually used!
If you have the budget, then in certain circumstances, you may wish to consider inviting a well-known high achiever or gold medallist to speak with your team. But we know of only a handful that are truly inspirational.
And the choice of person depends greatly upon the event itself.