28 May When Teambuilding Goes Wrong
Corporate away days and teambuilding events are great, right? Employees get a day off work, free food, drink and travel and the chance to hang out with the people that they’re normally too busy working with to actually befriend. Employers get insights into the way that their people work together and suggestions of ways to improve the business.
This is true to a certain extent, of course, but it’s also important to remember that you can’t force someone to enjoy themselves and that there are often invisible barriers that employers don’t even know about. A classic example of this is a company hosting a hog roast and not thinking about the vegetarians and vegans that work for them.
But there are other, less obvious barriers. For example, between 25 and 40% of the population is introverted, which means that large social gatherings can be intimidating and difficult to get through. There’s also the fact that a rising number of people are teetotal, which means that some employees might not have much fun if the rest of their colleagues are drinking heavily. Parents might not want to stay somewhere overnight because it means they won’t be able to get back to their kids.
Most teambuilding events and away days also consist of activities, most of which are mandatory. This can usually seem pretty harmless. For example, typical activities include team sports like rounders or baseball, yoga or even scavenger hunts. The problem is that different people are comfortable in different situations. Let’s say that you go canoeing, for example: what happens if an employee is uncomfortable around water?
This is why you need to be flexible and to listen to your employees, and if someone doesn’t want to take part in something, you shouldn’t force them. Instead of giving people an itinerary and saying “this is what you’re doing”, it’s your responsibility to prepare different activities which are as inclusive as possible while still acknowledging that you can never cater to everyone.
Forcing people to do things that they don’t want to do can be counterproductive, and it also means that you’ve forgotten what makes your company so great in the first place. Every one of us is different, and by embracing that diversity we become stronger both individually and together. In fact, most teambuilding exercises focus on identifying what makes us different and finding ways to turn that from a weakness into a strength.
Teambuilding exercises and away days are an important part of modern business for a reason. They can bring employees together and help them to work towards a common cause, and it can also help you to develop your company’s culture. Just make sure that you’re being considerate to your employees and being flexible when it comes to their needs so that it doesn’t backfire. Good luck.
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