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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Teambuilding, The Morning After

Teambuilding season up ahead.

The first quarter of the year is when I get a lot of request for teambuilding workshops. It is easy to assume that it goes the same for other facilitators and why not? It’s the beginning of the year, everyone needs to be reenergized to tackle the challenges the year have in store. People need to work together more effectively if the team is to reach a higher level of performance results.

Some companies invest big time in their teambuilding events. I know of some companies that allocate hundreds of thousands of pesos per year for this. Teambuilding is a big investment in deed with high potential for big returns. There is however a number of reasons why companies can lose more than what they invested if they choose a wrong approach or do not take this activity seriously. Let me share with you my experiences.

If the teambuilding facilitator fails to connect all those activities and exercises to real world challenges and fail to lead the group into actionable forward agenda, you’ll go home practically empty handed and wonder what happened the morning after. Teambuilding is more than just high energy, adrenalin-raising, fancy activities that leave people in euphoric state of togetherness. It’s a serious business of guiding the team towards making decisions and taking actions in bringing the team to a higher level of working relationship. It is sad to say that some teambuilding facilitators spend so much time in upping the excitement ante but fail to deliver concrete actionable results. A good teambuilding activity should be able to answer this question in very specific terms. How do we make this team better?

Failure to follow-through is an expensive mistake. If you think that outsourcing your teambuilding activity to the most expensive and most popular teambuilding consultants will make your team better, guess again. Although program design and facilitating skills are important components in teambuilding success, the key is really in your hands as a manager or leader. I’ve heard participants to annual teambuilding events say “here we go again, always trying but never get around to really building anything.” A good teambuilding workshop leaves the company with a series of actions to take in order to really build the team. I’ve said this a number of times and I will say it again. The offsite activity is a means to jumpstart the process but it is by no means the be-all-and-end-all of the process. Here’s the advice. If you really want to build a team culture, make a decision to pull all stops to follow-through on teambuilding commitments. Some of my clients who heeded my advice on putting up a monitoring team to ensure that commitments and norms are follow-through have benefited from better performance and higher morale. I hope you will too.

Teambuilding and company outing don’t go well together. I used to be strongly against this. There was one time though that I gave in to a client request. I regretted it and promised my self never to do it again. Before I explain why, let me just clarify something. Teambuilding is a serious process of expediting the process of bringing the team from forming, storming or norming stages to performing. Company outing is a social activity, a chance for the company to show goodwill to the employees. It also promotes some degree of bonding in a very loose way. It is not by any means a teambuilding activity. Any semblance that you see between company outing and teambuilding is an illusion. Now, going back to why I don’t like to mix the two. When you do it, you’ll have participants who expect the activity to address their team problems and at the same time looking at the ocean and wishing they are swimming while you are going through an activity. How messed up is that? Some company officers think its like hitting two birds with one stone to mix the two but do not realize that what they are doing is hitting their heads with that stone! All is not lost though. If you are thinking of doing the same this coming year, here is my advice. If you wish to divert your company outing budget to teambuilding better be sure that people are aware and that they understand the intention of doing it. Don’t say it’s a company outing cum teambuilding; just say it’s a teambuilding event period. And for goodness sake get as far away from the sea as possible!

The one most important word to remember in teambuilding is DECISION. When you decide to take the route of teambuilding, you should be decided to embrace the concept and commit yourself to manifest the values and behaviors that team players demonstrate with regularity. Without making this decision, the activity is bound to fail. Just use the fund somewhere else.

Here’s an ideal teambuilding effort for me:

  • The needs and goals of the company are threshed out prior to the event
  • The program is designed to address those needs
  • Activities are fun, engaging but also practical and the lessons, clear and applicable.
  • There is a post-workshop report to remind the team of what they committed to and to take action of.
  • There is follow through from the organizational leaders with or without the help of a facilitator.

If you need my help in determining your organization’s teambuilding needs give me a ring at (63)9205044521 or email me at

Happy Teambuilding!

1 comment:

  1. I agree. You need to be very clear about whether the client merely wants to have fun, or whether they actually need to understand how teams work and how to make them better.


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