Teambuilding-It doesn’t have to make you cringe!

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%. Ben’s seen it all – the good, the bad and the truly cringeworthy.  In this first of two blogs for meetingsclub, Ben asks what team building actually is and shares how things have changed since the days of ropes, planks and barrels! 

Have you seen Alison Green’s article on the BBC website? Alison gives some “interesting” examples of corporate teams experiencing some truly cringe-worthy exercises in the name of team building. 

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 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 organisations disassociated themselves with this term. 

The phrase ‘team building’ means different things to different people. For me, team building activities are all about positive, shared experiences that have a number of benefits: 

  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. 
  2. 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.  This includes takeaway actions for the following days to help develop new enhanced behaviours that benefit both the individual and the whole team. 
  3. When a team building experience is skilfully crafted, manufactured, and then delivered with attention to detail, 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!). 

Without doubt, things have changed significantly 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. 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?