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Can team building events be terrible?

Terrible_team_building_image Can team building events be terrible?

Have you seen the Alison Green article on the BBC website posted recently?

Alison gives somewhat spurious examples of corporate teams experiencing some truly cringe-worthy exercises in the name of team building. You can read Alison’s full article in the following link.


Based on the examples she’s given I could not agree more; they sound awful! And for me this raises the question; ‘What actually is team building?’

Throughout my 20+ years in this industry, I’ve toyed with renaming what we do to avoid association with the ghastly experiences that Alison describes in her article. Yet so many people search for the phrase ‘Team Building’ on the internet, that one would miss out on a huge portion of genuine client searches if one disassociated oneself with this term.

The phrase ‘team building’ means different things to different people. In our vocabulary, the experiences highlighted by Alison most certainly are not team building. And as Alison describes, they have the opposite effect of building team strength and unity.

For me, team building activities are about positive, shared experiences that have a number of benefits. Here are three examples;

  1. They help build strong social relationships between colleagues by creating a safe environment for different sides of people’s characters and skill sets to be expressed. This dynamic is crucial in team building activity design.
  1. A well designed activity will get people in a more open and honest frame of mind and create the ideal platform for a learning session. By following a team building session with skilful facilitation, individuals can be led on a learning journey to receive key corporate messages or a personal development programme that includes a takeaway action for the following days to help develop new enhanced behaviours that benefit both the individual and the whole team.
  1. When a team building experience is skilfully crafted, manufactured then delivered with attention to detail and excellence, they can also be used as a reward and recognition mechanism. A unique and tailored, fun experience that the group really enjoy will reward effort and create memories that will last significantly longer into the future than a £50 bonus (before taxation!).

Typically, at £40-£75 per head, less than a quarter of a typical £300 per head training course, a tailored team building event represents incredible value.

What forward thinking business would not want the benefits of any of the above?

I was recently asked how team building has changed over the years, from the “1980’s ropes, planks and barrels style army command tasks”.

People are looking for far more immersive experiences these days. They want events that are more sophisticated and involving to ensure that all personality types are catered for. Clients also want to align the experience with a conference message or business values. Increasingly the activity is used as a platform to develop their team, utilising expert facilitation to draw analogies from a relevant, fun activity with thought provoking questioning to lead their group on a learning journey.

As a final note to Alison, perhaps next time you write an article on a specific subject matter, speak to business leaders in the industry to help you write a well-rounded article that considers all sides. Unless I suppose, you want to focus on click bait titles and hearsay stereotyping to create attention ;0)

About the Author;

Ben Parkinson has been helping companies deliver their corporate messages through unique and innovative experiences for over 20 years. As a co-founder of Blue Hat Teambuilding, his company has been recognised over 40 times by the main industry awards bodies. Over 1 million people in over 50 countries have experienced a Blue Hat team event, giving an average rating of over 98%.



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