Thanks in part to TV series like The Office, team building has a bit of a bad rep. Or at least, we think of it as clichéd and pointless. That’s because sometimes it can be.
Building teams where members are close takes time. It isn’t achieved by trust falling into a colleague’s arms or blindfolded physical guidance exercises that involve personal space invasion. No one likes that.
Nor are they built by pseudo-philosophical visualisations around buzz words like integrity, dynamism, cooperation, and so on. They are not built by imagining each other as wild animals in a hierarchical system either—with a lion at the top. Exquisitely awkward.
The issue with team building, especially corporate is what it chooses to focus on. Too many corporate team building consultants and bosses assume team building is either forcing closeness or shoehorning in lessons around leadership. The former can do more harm than good, and the latter isn’t team building at all. It’s a veiled reinforcing of corporate culture.
In order to achieve the wholesome results desired, where your team becomes emotionally stronger and closer you must remove the work element. Even if something takes place away from the workplace, that doesn’t mean it’s not saturated by it.
Just think, how do we make friends? We don’t play contrived games and extract painstaking reductions about our “personality types”. That’s too mechanical. We make friends by connecting, human to human. Shared interests, humour, empathy, kindness, overcoming adversity together.
This can take place at work but transcends it.
As you’ve gathered it’s wise to avoid the corporate stuff. It’s banal at best and doesn’t make people feel appreciated. However, once you start thinking of team building as a social it becomes easier. Suddenly there’s a wealth of options.
A social? That’s not team building. Oh, but it is. The office Christmas party is a better “team building” exercise than the dreaded customer care role play. Why?
Because it’s relaxed and facilitated by tipple. No agenda, no prescribed socialisation. People can connect in their own way. You don’t have to call it team building, but team building can be as simple as a meal out or as complex as a survival skills weekend. Of course, not every company has lots of money to spend—so it’s worth remembering it’s the thought that counts. If you’ve tried and your team enjoys themselves, that’s what matters. There should be no pressure to “professionally develop”.
Now you’re thinking about it as socialisation its importance should be clear. At work none of us are 100% ourselves. That’s not to say we’re in an environment where we shouldn’t be ourselves—some workplaces are very relaxed. This is perfect, although, we’re still there to do a job so we’re in work mode. This isn’t as conducive a situation to make friends as outside of work.
To truly flourish, and evolve into more than professional relationships, friendships must be given time to solidify away from work—without spreadsheets, meetings, deadlines, and conference calls.
A team in which the members genuinely care for one another is a remarkable thing and has an irreplaceable worth for a business. This happens when people get to know each other in a deeper sense, not possible when there’s work to be done. When people do bond properly, this changes the dynamic of a business.
Being friends with colleagues has profound benefits, which naturally influence how well people can do their jobs. You can’t teach this.
If your team develops close friendships, by default you’ll see many things improving in your business. For starters productivity will increase. If people are work acquaintances, rather than friends, they have to navigate small talk and find it difficult to move forwards with projects and activities. Once people are friends, the surface conversation dries up and interactions become meaningful.
People’s comfortableness with one another will translate into heightened productivity because less energy is expended on formalities.
If your employees are friends, they will experience greater job satisfaction. Few of us are satisfied enough with our jobs that we’d reject work friends. We’ve all experienced jobs we’d have quit sooner if it wasn’t for the fantastic people we worked with. That’s a standard in life.
True friends are also able to instinctually deal with setbacks, by naturally supporting one another. You don’t have to say, “band together”, because they already have. All in all, encouraging authentic friendships to blossom by offering thoughtful team building days and trips away massively improves your team’s effectiveness.
When pitted against a team where people are new to one another or haven’t been able to gel, a team of friends significantly outperforms on collaborative tasks. This is because they communicate fluidly and consistently give each other feedback. A solid team of friends can take on anything and anyone.
At Bowood, we know the value of authentic team-building experiences. Therefore, we don’t just offer space for corporate events, but also exciting social activities too.
Team building at Bowood—
Your team building break at Bowood could be the perfect mix between thrilling fun and good old-fashioned relaxation. Your team will be able to let their hair down and have a fantastic time. Afterwards, existing friendships will be stronger and new friendships will have formed.