When you manage people, you want them to all get along. In an ideal world, you’d all happily work together, smiling, laughing and maybe even skipping into the office together holding hands. Maybe that’s a bit far-fetched but still, it seems managers think that way when they incessantly force their teams to endure ‘team building exercises’. Activities designed to force you to ‘bond’ and learn to ‘trust’ your team members. For many, the thought of spending an hour in close proximity to their colleagues when they don’t have to brings on quite the shudder. Even when you are friends with the people you work with, it really does take it to another level when you’re put into a forced ‘bonding’ situation, created by management to improve teamwork. Staring at the ample behind of Betty on reception who’s close to retirement as she wobbles around in front of you trying to master a rope bridge just isn’t part of your career ‘dream’.
So why do managers do it?
Well, it is actually with the best intentions, they genuinely are just trying to help everyone get to know each other better to improve morale and teamwork. They’ve done so much training and managed for so long, they don’t remember how hideous team building exercises actually are.
Are You A Manager That Puts Your Staff Through Team Building Games?
If you’re guilty of making your staff take part in team building games, don’t worry, it isn’t your fault. But it might be worth reconsidering your ‘organised fun’ because of these 5 reasons:
Your Staff Don’t Want To Get To Know You
Generally managers get involved in team building games as well, which is one of the most gurn inducing parts of the entire ordeal. Your staff want to know you as their boss, not their mate. They don’t need to help you built a raft, they don’t need you to hold their hand while they cross a plank blindfolded, and they certainly don’t want to hear ‘fun facts’ about you that you think makes you more like ‘one of them’. It’s great to be a direct and sensitive manager, but you’re a boss not a buddy – get over it.
Your Staff Are Stressed Enough As It Is
Most people will tell you they would rather be cracking on with their projects than spending an afternoon getting to know their colleagues. A cheeky pint down the pub on a Friday after the work is completed is fine, but taking an afternoon out of their working time to build teamwork isn’t a treat, it just adds to their stress levels because it cuts into the time they have to reach deadlines set by you.
You Should Be Spending Money Elsewhere
Fair enough if it’s a free ten minute drama club type game in the office, but if you’ve taken money out of the budget to pay for staff to go on a team building weekend – what were you thinking? Give it to your staff in bonuses, pay for them to have lunch, or buy them coffees on every Friday for a month. Do you really think if they had a choice of treats that they would pick a team building weekend? Would you?
You Can’t Force Them to Bond
You cannot force people to bond if they don’t want to. Creating a team spirit with well led brainstorming sessions and group collaborations is great, but forcing people to give two hoots about one another just won’t work. People learn and work differently (in seven different ways actually), and some may like group work, others may excel individually, some may be introverted – basically everyone is different. So even if you’ve got one, Glee club type positively bursting with excitement over getting to know his colleagues, the chances are everyone else simply won’t be up for it. Invite people to the local pub for a pint at the end of a long week, let them voluntary get to know each other – you cannot force people to bond.
You Might Turn Your Already Shy Group Members into Hermit Crabs
Have you ever heard the old tale about the wind and the sun having a bet about who could get the man to take his coat off. The wind blew and blew and the man simply pulled his coat around him tighter, and the sun gently cast its rays and the man took his coat off. Moral of the story is, brute force isn’t the only way to persuade someone to do what you want them to do, and often it’s not the recommended way. Team building games are not going to gently encourage shy team members to ‘get involved’. Imagine being terrified of your new office, and trying to get through each new day simply talking to new colleagues without blushing (yes shyness can be that bad) and then BOOM your manager throws you into a horrific drama game where you’re forced to not only speak in front of everyone else, but tell them ‘about yourself’ without stuttering or going fifty shades of red. It is a seriously terrifying prospect for some people and it won’t ‘open them up’.
So if you’re a manager who loves a good team building game, save them for a rainy day at home, with your family or… no one. They really aren’t a great idea for a lot of businesses and staff generally hate them.
Don’t believe us? Check these articles out to see how staff really feel;