Teambuilding. Luxury entertainment or necessity?

Teambuilding. Luxury entertainment or necessity?

Vasiliy Ivanov Apr 18, 2017

Subject matter of the discussion

Ask managers whether they conduct teambuilding events. Then ask the staff if they want to participate. The answers will often be completely different. One of the first thoughts of any business owner when hearing about teambuilding: "Laying out a lot of money for god knows what again." Not all employees are happy about such events as well, especially in IT: "I'd rather work some more."

Indeed, in teambuilding just like in marketing, it is often impossible to predict what will produce the greatest effect, but you must believe in the result. When we just started to carry out teambuilding events we also believed, set common goals. For example, uniting members of the team. And with time, the goals became more accurate, and the results increasingly measurable.

Let's analyze what happens during a teambuilding. First of all, teams are formed. Although this is not necessary, often the leaders build the teams of those employees who need to come together or to establish relationships for the first time. The task is set so that the team can only successfully accomplish it by uniting. Usually, most teams begin to get moving slowly. Occasionally, some members of the team are embarrassed by questionable tasks, because they are "some kind of nonsense." But after a while latent leaders appear. Who are these leaders? In the daily routine, even the most experienced managers often overlook the personal qualities of some employees, as they are in a constant race for product quality and project terms. In working process, careerists are the first to be noticed, as they do not miss the opportunity to profile themselves. However, it does not mean that such a careerist is really the best in his team, he is just used to show-off. During outdoor events, attention of managers of any level is not directed at operational tasks, and quiet guys from the office begin to reveal themselves because they are used to act, and outside the office walls it becomes more noticeable. It’s more difficult to spot the productive guys on a project that lasts for months than during an off-site training, where there is only 10-20 minutes per task. Latent leaders become obvious, even when not trying to demonstrate it. They simply know how and what to do, and are always ready to lead a project/group/team. They just can’t stand aside when there is an unfulfilled task!

There are also teambuilding types that aim at strengthening or revealing the qualities of existing managers. Unfortunately, according to our experience of such events, not all leaders who were appointed as such are the actual leaders of their teams. At the off-site event, when you need to put aside your shame, not be afraid to get dirty in order to fulfill the task, leaders and cowards are revealed. All that’s required from the top management at such time is to observe and monitor, while participating in the same event. Another of our observations - the stronger and more cohesive the team is, the stronger is its leader. Imagine that you and your coach gather for the last training before the championship, and he says: "Come on, why are you so serious about it, let’s get some beer." How engaged will his team be? And imagine the opposite - a coach that not only teaches how to do the exercises correctly, but also performs them himself? And if, while doing the exercises, he shows the best results? Such leaders gather around them the best specialists with a desire to learn something new. The same principles go for the office staff. The leaders that manifest themselves as strong personalities, regardless of physical abilities, become authorities for their team. Whereas the leaders who turn out idlers only become targets for mockery and backbites.

So, what do these teambuilding events look like and is it their necessary condition to move your team far from civilization with a single match and a raincoat? We have tried various scenarios: in the mountains and in the woods, in the city and in restaurants. After all, if you look globally, even the birthday of a company and the team's hike for a beer after work, can also be considered teambuilding. This is an opportunity for people to communicate, learn about the problems and interests of each other. I'm very sympathetic to situations where people get acquainted first as employees, then as families, and some even create families within the company. This reminds me of ​​dolphins: it's said that if dolphins mate in captivity, it means they are cared after really well. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but I'm trying to create such a company where employees will feel like home.


Interesting teambuilding events at KeepSolid

We drove out of town into the forest, where we attended the rope course. Simple at first glance, the exercises were emphasized on teamwork. It is where the latent leaders are best revealed. Regardless of the task, they are ready to take the lead. Additional excitement is caused by the course coaches can change the rules who during the exercise. For example, a team that disputes all the time, can be made to continue the exercise in silence or blindfolded. As a result, team members do not just learn how to negotiate for the sake of results, but also understand each other without words. In addition to exercises on the ground, there are exercises in the air. For example, "leap of faith." On a pine tree about 10 meters high there is a small platform, one of the team members is secured with a safety rope, and there's a crossbar hanging at some distance from him. The task of the team member is to overcome his fear and jump for the crossbar, trusting the partner.

 A similar team exercise, which can even be performed in the office, is carried out on the ground. One of the team members gets on the table or other high surface. Behind him standing on the floor are the rest of the team, putting their hands forward. The task of the team member is to trust his team and, without looking back, fall back on the hands of his team.

Even more interesting to us seemed the events held away from our native city. We had one in the Carpathians. For the company, this was the first experience of such a large-scale offsite event. Because of that, there were some shortcomings in the organization of the trip. Divided into groups, teams got there by bus, by train, and even by car. For me it was a sporting challenge to get to Dragobrat by car. The task was successfully completed. 

The event consisted of two days of team building, where employees were divided into teams and performed tasks, and three days of a free program (skiing, snowboarding, hiking, etc.). The requirement during the first two days is to participate in team training without families. Here we also learned a few organizational lessons that will be useful in the future. In addition to the exercises in the snow, an important team building component was the communication between employees during the evenings in cafes, when guys moved away from work issues and shared their interests, built joint plans, shared impressions.

Despite the mistakes in the organization, we enjoyed the event, dozens of colleagues first got on skis/snowboards and brought home a lot of positive emotions. In the future, we plan to organize such events regularly, because the efforts that our employees put into work should be rewarded worthily!

One of the most memorable teambuildings was on the company's birthday. Whereas previously we celebrated in an official atmosphere, this time we took advantage of the season. A huge swimming pool, a bar, a dance floor, and a stage became a springboard for the festivities. We started the event with summing up the results of the past period, rewarding those who excelled at work, invited the friends of the company and the partners to deliver a speech. Then the unofficial part came under the guidance of the host, who controlled the mood of the audience so that no one got bored, held contests and sometimes put other participants in his shoes.

To conclude, corporate events are good in any form, whether it is a teambuilding event or just a recreation. It is important that company owners set a specific goal before the organization of any event. We got to divide all such activities into two types: for families and for employees only. In the first case, we gather also entire families, in the second one, we pay more attention to identifying leadership or establishing communication lines between colleagues.