Many employers – be it to address conflict or low morale or just to improve sales – provide teambuilding to their employees. A recent LinkedIn forum explored the effectiveness of such efforts. It confirmed what I myself have observed: done properly, team building can work well, done cursorily or poorly, it can be worse than doing nothing.
This week I want to discuss what kinds of teambuilding don’t work. Next week I’ll address what elements are needed for teambuilding to be successful.
So what doesn’t work?
- Off the shelf, one size fits all programs. Everyone hates to be manipulated and patronized. Any program that doesn’t address the actual people and problems in issue has to be both because it won’t respect the complexity and individuality of the employees and their issues.
- Games, fun activities, sing-alongs, outdoor challenge programs. They may be fun, but they won’t solve real problems. And for many participants, they won’t even be fun.
- Working with an overly large group. You just can’t be effective if there are more than 10 or so employees in the group. Too many variables, too many voices.
- Teambuilding as a substitute for addressing performance or behavior issues. A day of Kumbaya won’t help if the manager is incompetent, a couple of bullies run the shop, employees are screaming at each other because they can’t keep up with the workload, etc.
- A quick fix. A few hours or even a full day of anything, even quality teambuilding, will not be enough to address serious or longstanding issues (and aren’t they all?).
- An unskilled leader. It’s not easy to facilitate effectively. One difficult, self-centered, angry or volatile employee can sabotage the whole enterprise and only a skilled leader can handle this type of participant. Which also brings us back to a couple of bullets ago: teambuilding cannot substitute for addressing behavior issues.
- Management outsources the process with little involvement. We all know that it starts at the top. If management is not invested in the process, the employees will not be either.
What else do you think dooms teambuilding to failure? ~Amy Stephson