Last week I was honoured to be a guest panelist on #EventIcons alongside Sydney Wolf and host Alex Plaxen. If you missed it, you can stream it now anytime and get additional resources by clicking here!
The first team building question I was asked was 'is team building dead?'. Hilarious! Innovative team building is a pillar of our business at Engagement Unlimited and experiential activities are very en vogue right now - so, I would give that question a big N-O.
What is true though, is that:
1) team building as a concept is undergoing a shift in structure, expectations, and outcomes - and
2) the term team building is often totally mis-used used as a catch for social activities and even business meetings.
Many companies that come to us looking to elevate a team building program or provide a more strategic year-long engagement plan describe horror stories of their previous forays into this world. For horror stories of non-team building exercises (naked bathing anyone?) click here!
Team building means a thoughtful, inclusive framework that motivates and bonds teams while promoting the 3 C's: effective communication, collaboration, and creativity.
Everything gets better when the client is involved in the early stages of a team building project. The more we know about their specific issues, objectives, and end goals, the better their experience is going to be.
We find that our clients are also often looking for a higher purpose for their activities. Here are 3 examples of how much this can vary:
1) Giving Back to the Community/Philanthropy
We designed a give-back building project called Playschool Playscapes that is like build a bike x10. We take re-purposed natural materials (cedar wood, thrifted kitchen items, non-toxic mural paint) and have teams construct play kitchens and buddy benches to donate to local at risk daycares and elementary schools.
This activity checks the CSR box while being environmentally friendly, community-centric, and still infuses team-based competition and collaboration. Most importantly, these activities infuse the participants with the potent sense of being a hero and making a difference in children's lives. This 'hero-energy' is extremely valuable for it deepens bonds and emotions with those people and teams you share this experience with.
2) Discovery/Culture Immersion
We took a regular scavenger hunt and hyper-localized it to the unique culture of our destinations, then added a few layers of athletic competition, artistic finesse, and logic-based tests. The game is structured around a fun mobile-app with social sharing capabilities and fun surprises from character actors (Where's Waldo in the park, Yoga Gurus teaching tableau poses) and brand activations.
Capture U is a team building activity that incorporates culture, technology, and competition for one super fun time.
3) Situational Leadership
Our latest activity takes the thrill and mystery of a trendy escape room and brings it to YOU for groups of any size with a fun team building twist. Sometimes the focus needs to stay in the room on the participants, and in this case we take situational leadership to new levels in a game that requires quick thinking, role switching, and clear communication skills.
We call it The Engaging Escape, and it works on it's own or as part of a retreat that builds off of the skills explored in the game.
So - is team building dead? No way. It's evolving with culture just like everything else does, but it's still the most valuable thing you can do for employee retention, engagement, and overall satisfaction. Sometimes you just need to approach it in a different way - and bring in the pros to help ensure you reach your goals!