Into the arms of your colleagues, that is . . . That’s a typical team-building exercise that was actually parodied to a certain extent in the funny but disturbing movie "Mean Girls." (Come on-would YOU fall into the arms of a bunch of teenage girls? Not me, thank you . . .) As Wall Street Journal columnist Jared Sandberg recently wrote, a trust fall "proves only that colleagues prefer not to be sued." That´s comforting.
The question to ask is not necessarily which exercises you would incorporate into a team-building workshop but whether or not the people attending are going to be receptive to the concept in the first place. Can you really expect people to make the connection between what happens off-site (someone reaches the top of a climbing wall or a table of colleagues completes a jigsaw puzzle in record time) and the daily grind of a job-deadlines, disagreements, goof-ups, etc.?
Sure, the absence of phones, interruptions, and other common workplace occurrences can make for an interesting outing and one that makes people laugh, closer even. But does being in the same white water raft along a river mean that the group will get along when they return to their desks? Unless you can help people understand the connection or actually make it for them those exercises might simply become memories.
People need to be receptive to learning and be will to take the next step by applying what they´ve learned to the real world. But in most cases it is real world, seat-of-the-pants learning-not on some mountaintop or retreat center in the middle of nowhere-that leads to growth and stronger teams. I know someone will disagree, and I´d love to hear from you.
But these days, with so many of us doing more than we ever imagined, taking time out to be a better team player can make our work lives even more demanding than they already are. That´s why it´s crucial to make certain that any team-building weekend, workshop and/or exercise really and truly has the best interests of the team players. If you´re looking for a break and a way to offer your workers a good time, a team-building experience could be the way to go, but remember what happens on a team-building trip might stay on that trip . . .