Over the past few years, we've seen businesses moving away from competitive work environments to workplaces where collaboration and co-operation between staff is seen as the key to success. As part of this change more and more companies are undertaking regular team building activities. These activities can range from a short, problem-solving activity to a retreat lasting a couple of days. As we approach the end of the year, we also turn our thoughts to Christmas events and the all important thank you's too.
Otherwise known as "I'm already planning to pull a sickie so that I don't have to spend a day being to talked to like a child and forced to 'bond' with my colleagues".
Why does the term 'team building' strike dread into most of our hearts?
Because it can so often go horribly wrong!
Who can forget the escapades of Mr Brent in the Office, like this cringe-worthy classic.......
In this blog we have brought together some comedic, if slightly woeful tales of team building doing anything but bonding people. These are all true stories, which we found many to choose from sadly!
At nnoodl we recognise the difference between the tragic and the magic when it comes to events and experiences and will never put you in a situation like this….
“During a previous job, I worked in a team that was having trouble getting along, so they brought in someone to help us work together as a team. First activity? We had to go around the room and tell each other what we didn’t like about each other. We might have also had to add what we did like about each other but I honestly only remember the criticisms and the people bursting into tears. We went from simply not being able to work together to actively disliking each other in about 30 minutes. Then we ate a boxed lunch and ended the day by filling out personality tests.”
The trust fall fail
There is perhaps no team-building exercise more infamous than the trust fall, an activity whereby a person closes their eyes, crosses their arms, and blindly falls backwards into the arms of a colleague.
This activity is designed to build support and trust between employees. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always pan out this way.
Mark, an editorial assistant at a book publisher, tells us that his employer once brought in a “corporate team-building coach” who broke the staff into pairs for a trust fall exercise. He was partnered with Tim, a marketing intern who was known around the office for his unrelenting Snapchats.
“I closed my eyes and let myself fall backward,” Mark recalls, “and SMACK, I landed flat on my back on the floor.
When I looked up to shout at Tim, he was standing there filming the entire thing on his phone, chuckling to himself.”
And of course who can forget this classic You Tube example........
Lego for lunch
One of the easier team-building exercises to poke fun at is Lego Serious Play, a facilitation methodology created by the Lego Group in 2010.
Team members are given a pile of Lego and asked to “work through imaginary scenarios using visual three-dimensional Lego constructions.” It’s as cringeworthy as it sounds, though a vast nation of HR professionals claim that it promotes effective communication, engages the imagination, and leads to the discovery of new design opportunities. But when employees are treated like children, they act them too.
Alice, a marketing professional, was participating in a Lego Serious Play where employees were given 10 minutes to visualise a problem they faced using Lego bricks. Midway through, two of her colleagues got bored.
“One of them told the other, ‘I’ll give you £20 if you swallow a Lego brick right now,’ and she actually did it,” she said. “I don’t think that’s the type of creative thinking the employer had in mind.”
The next day, says Alice, the Lego gulper was “literally shi**ng bricks.”
Although a great schadenfreude read, I’m sure we all have our own cringey stories of team building days to share. As we near the year end and the infamous team thank you’s and Christmas parties, why not consider using nnoodl to take the angst out of your next team gathering?
At nnoodl we listen to your specific requirements and then create a bespoke, meaningful and memorable team event.
And we are much more than that.
Have you ever been the person responsible for organising said activity? It can be a thankless task trying to come up with something that appeals to everyone, and you inevitably end up as the fall guy.
One of our unique qualities at nnoodl is that we can act as your 'adventure concierge'. Let us decide what the team are doing, so that it is a surprise for everyone. Imagine that, even the organiser can enjoy it!
Some of our previous activities have included underground singing adventures, axe throwing, bee keeping, stop motion animation to name but a few - and always with a lovely food and drink element included.
So if you are looking for something different for your team away day, thank you event or Christmas activity, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no obligation chat and let's see if we can help you to create something that is more than just a bad day out of the office!
Denise Yeats is the creator of nnoodl. Here she shares a selection of previous nnoodl activities along with some interesting articles and insights.