If team building and other offsite events are to offer value, their inclusion in an overall corporate structure of philosophies, values and practices is critical. People must already operate in a team-oriented environment that is characterized by such philosophies as shared purpose, shared vision, shared mission and a performance development system that enables people to grow both personally and professionally. Or, your organization must be proactively pursuing team work as a business and employee strategy.
In such a system, team behaviors are rewarded and recognized. Teams solve problems and improve processes. There is a genuine concern for employees and the policies and work are employee and employee-family friendly. When a problem or failure occurs, the search is not for the guilty, but instead, managers ask, “What about the work system caused that person or team to fail?”
When such a structure exists on an ongoing basis within an organization, team building events can enhance and help the system grow stronger. Again, build the team building events around a business purpose to which all attendees can contribute, and you have the opportunity for an energizing, exciting growth opportunity.
Successful companies regularly demonstrate their commitment to building team unity, trust and positive morale among their employees in their daily workplace. Without this commitment and the presence of team building success factors, negative effects can result from formal team building or planning sessions.
I facilitated a team building and planning event recently in which a management team gathered to put together their annual priorities. The group did a salutary job; they were set up to spend the quarter both productive and focused. They were excited and feeling a strong sense of direction.
The next day, much to my sorrow and their lost morale, their manager pulled out a list of everything that had not made their priority list at the team building event. He called this the “B” list and said that, even though these were not the priorities, they all had to be completed, too. Can you imagine the impact of telling them that all their work, thinking and prioritizing really didn’t matter? They had to accomplish it all anyway.
Team building and planning events and activities have the potential to bring the people you employ a strong sense of direction, workable plans and solutions, a powerful feeling of belonging with and on the team and clear, strategic customer-focused values.
Poorly planned and executed, created outside of the context of the total organization, the team building and planning sessions bring disillusionment, low morale and negative motivation. They fail to deliver the results expected. Organizations flounder with little strategic direction. Everyone works hard, but, usually on the wrong tasks and goals. Employees take baby steps toward accomplishing key action items and nothing important is finished.
And, when the next team building or off-site planning event is announced, the cycle generally repeats itself. Which approach to team building would you prefer to institute in your organization?
Please provide feedback in the HR Forum.
Find out more about Team Building Downsides and Risks