Published February 2019
“Team Building Event” – three words that can strike fear into many office workers. Most of us have been on these events before and, let’s be honest here, many of them are simply awful!
Before starting Aim for the Sky our director, Ben, worked for a number of the mainstream events companies and saw some truly terrible examples for these corporate days. Here is his take on why team building is often loathed and what actually makes for a good event.
The key to any successful event is participation. If you pick an activity where half the group will be excluded through embarrassment, physical ability or competition then your objective has already been missed. Remember, the real aim of these staff days is engagement and creating an environment where all members can interact with one another, ideally with a spirit of fun and friendly competition.
Here are a few examples of activities that people choose for team building events and why they are not a good idea.
Yes, believe it or not some people actually think that paintballing is suitable for their team away day. However, if you consider the huge range of ages, abilities and interests within a company it’s not hard to see why this would bomb. Even the most enthusiastic elderly receptionist probably won’t enjoy getting shot up by the boys working in the sales team, not to mention the fact that shooting your boss is unlikely to help your career progression.
We’re not just picking on paintballing here, any high adrenaline/physically demanding activity is unlikely to be enjoyed by the whole group – rock climbing, Zorb football, boot camp etc. So if your planning an event think carefully about who is coming and what they’d enjoy doing? If you can get this first stage right and select options that everyone can take part in then you’re onto a winner.
Whilst working for an events company in the midlands, Ben witnessed the most cringe worthy activity imaginable. The group was made to sit cross-legged on the floor in a giant circle, just like school children do. Then the event coordinator got them to throw a ball around the circle and whomever it landed on had to say all their hopes and dreams out to the group. This was then replaced by fears, then onto why they love the company and its management. After a while, this went from silly to uncomfortable and you could just see that everyone wanted it to end... but it didn’t!
People never feel at ease when they feel that at any moment they might be called out and made to embarrass themselves in front of their friends and colleagues. There is nothing wrong with wanting staff to voice their opinions, particularly on how they feel within the company and their aspirations for the future, in fact it should be encouraged. However, try to create an environment that gives people time to express themselves and not simply throwing them into the spotlight. Small workgroups, where a few individuals can tackle these themes together before presenting to the rest of them are a much more successful way to reach out to your staff.
Thankfully themed and make believe team building events are a dying breed. In the early 90’s they were everywhere along with the dreaded murder mystery evening, and to this day you’ll still see them crop up every now and again.
These have always been a bit of a marmite activity as in you either love it or hate it. The problem is that for those who are not into it, these events can make them feel socially awkward and isolated from the rest of the group.
There’s nothing wrong with incorporating a bit of a theme to your events, we do it all the time with our Medieval themed team building and Treasure hunts. The key is moderation and ensuring those who might not be comfortable can opt out without being excluded from the fun.
If it looks bad then it’s bad – at Aim for the Sky we know that first impressions count. When a client sees what they’ll be doing with you that day we want them to be impressed and excited to get started. This applies to everything we do, from a clay pigeon shoot at a country manor, to an indoor team building game at a city centre hotel.
The trouble is that with many providers the first thing their clients will see will look rather unimpressive and straight away the group is feeling deflated and the organiser is wishing they picked something else!
Getting things off to a good start and those initial first impressions shapes your whole event. An enthusiastic group will be more engaged, productive and have a far more enjoyable experience than the group that feels disappointed and would rather be elsewhere.
Be sure to pick an activity provider than takes pride in what they do. Here at Aim for the Sky we create our own team building activities and have them built by professionals to look impressive for any event.
It’s fair to say that any bad reputation team building has is mostly down to those who run the events. Ultimately the providers are responsible for the quality of the product presented to the clients. Unfortunately over the years many of these companies have just become middlemen, outsourcing all the work to the lowest bidder and taking a bit of commission from the customer, this has resulted in many companies ending up with poor quality activities and events that are not suitable for their staff.
So the next time you’re planning an event don’t go to an events company that will offer you expert service but never actually understand your needs, instead get in touch with Aim for the Sky and we’ll help you plan an event you’ll be proud of and that your staff will remember and enjoy!