CBS This Morning showcased an organization that did a team building event by participating in a water survival class. Survival Systems initially created their programs to help people in the military and first responders prepare under stress-filled situations, like being trapped underwater. But now they are reaching out to corporations who want a unique team building event. Such an event involves jumping off of a high ledge and being immersed underwater to fight for your escape.
We refer to this as Hard Wiring Team Building. This is when you create artificial, stress-filled events that hopefully will force people to come together as a team. I have no doubt that safety is a priority of the organization that sponsors such activities. But people are very much at different places when it comes to these kinds of events. Some have serious fears and phobias when it comes to tight spaces or heights, or even simply swimming! They fear speaking up about their concern, thinking they will be dismissed as a coward–or worse–a poor team player. So they become anxious and put up with the activity. And in the end, is that really making the team come together in a significant, relevant way?
In the video, the premise presented is that danger and fear are the tools for building teams. But is that the only way to build a strong team? How about having people focused on the same, important goal? You’d be surprised how motivational that is.
Oh…and by the way…what happens when things go wrong and someone does get hurt? Or even when people are seen as abandoning their colleagues at a time when they should be rescuing each other? What messages are we sending then? How are you going to fix the team at that point?
All of this was an attempt to address employee engagement, which is at a low of 32%, according to Gallup. It’s an important issue facing so many organizations. But is this really the best approach?
We believe that the focus should be in Soft Wiring Team Building. And guess what–we recommend that the place for doing this be in your own office. Try communicating a bit more. Consider recognizing each other. Try providing relevant training and development. Spend more time discussing issues. The workplace is ample for building relationships and coming together as a team. The problem is that we don’t invest the time needed on the very place we come to work together. Then when we don’t see the results from our long term investments, we go after some short term stint of having everyone fall backwards or jump out of an airplane.
We at World Class Benchmarking offers team building programming that allows you to see how others work cohesively–without putting a life vest on you and throwing you in into the water. Ask us about our team building programs, and how we can jump start your team without jumping out of a plane. We’ll build on your strengths, not your fears, and you’ll walk away with real steps for moving forward your organization to the next level.