Your corporate team building program was not a success?
Here are four possible reasons why.
1) Lack of understanding why they are there.
If the participants are not made aware of the reason for the team building program there can be some serious hostility. Some coordinators like to "keep the people in the dark" and surprise them with team building. Another common idea is, "we will not tell them what we are doing and when it starts they will be totally surprised". These two ideas are a recipe for disaster, and a competent team building facilitator's worst nightmare. As adults the idea of "SURPRISE" you need better team work, does not create a happy environment.
What coordinators of team building programs could do is speak to the team inform them that they are going to be taking part in a team program. You are going to get some groans and people may not want to attend. This is natural and expected. The team building program should not be viewed as a prison sentence. Let them go to the meeting, ask them to observe for a little time, if they still do not wish to participate, this is their choice. Within work teams - initiative and choice is a building block for team work, you must respect your team members decision.
2) Improper sequencing of activities
This cannot be said loud enough. What sequencing is in the team building world is the order of activities, each one creating a level of comfort and acceptance to the group. Many times the coordinator of the event and even worse the facilitator wants to "scare them straight into being a team" by pushing a huge physical, mental or emotional challenge on participants for the first activity. If this happens almost 90% of the participants will back out immediately. Participants understand that they are not going to love every team building activity, and that they have the choice to change their minds. A proper sequence starts with the groups' current state of being. Do they know each other well? Have they worked together for 30+ years? Is there some hidden conflict waiting to erupt? The sequencing depends on the facilitator of your event; the facilitator should at the least have knowledge of Tuckman's 5 Stages of Group Formation, if the facilitator does not RUN out of their as fast as you can! This facilitator is not ready for corporate team building. Ask the facilitator how sequential learning is going to add to your team building program. Be an informed consumer, do not assume that because the facilitator works for a college, or a reputable conference center that he is qualified for corporate team development.
3) Poor or inadequate debrief
If the facilitator does not have the skills to debrief the team building activities, take your companies check book to the toilet and flush it! You will get the same results - wet feet, a foul odor and an angry supervisor.This is where experience and broad knowledge is needed for the team building facilitator. After the majority of team building activities the facilitator should lead a debrief or processing session. Effective facilitators are able to gain the trust and attention of all team members through a variety of processing techniques. While you are speaking with the facilitator ask about experiential learning cycles, processing, planned outcomes, goals,and customization to your group. If he just stares at you blankly this facilitator is probably great at playing games but lacks the true processing skills needed to turn a corporate team building activity from recreation to education.
4) Lacking commitment of Management and Executive Team
"Thank you for coming to this our team building day, the executive staff are pleased to have you, the executive staff and I are going to go golfing for the day and leave you here to play some games with [insert team building facilitator here]. This is important to the executive team that all of you work as a team. Have fun playing some silly games we will see you after our golf game, Good luck [insert team building facilitator here] this group needs a lot of work!"
This is the introduction I once got before a 7 hour team building program. Needless to say the goals and learning objectives that were reached never stuck back in the office. It is imperative for the higher ups to be part of the team building as much as possible. Often times the ideas that arise are brilliant and can be easily implemented into organizational practice. If the executive team is off golfing, they will never hear it. Team building is a culture, team building is a value a mission a deep down belief in the participants soul to like and love their Job as well as co-workers.
When looking for a Corporate Team Building Consultant find someone who is passionate about your organization and is ready to work with you for success.There must be trust for organizational growth to occur.
-Michael Cardus: An adventure consultant and experiential trainer for Create-Learning-Team Building. Located in Buffalo NY.