One of the problems with the traditional teambuilding event format is that it is essentially divisive. A selection of activities is laid on and the group is divided into teams to have a go at each activity. An example might be a group of 20 divided into four teams of five to try archery, laser clay shooting, quad bikes and dune buggies.
Not only does this isolate people into teams which may be separated over the course of the event but often teams are encouraged to compete against each other so that a winning team can be announced at the end of the event. Some argue that this as the opposite of teambuilding.
Extreme activities such as abseiling and bungee jumping are even more divisive. Rather than building a team they separate a team into those who are afraid and those who are not.
One solution is to change the members of the teams at each rotation, but this can be time consuming and upset the equilibrium. Another solution often employed is to play down the competition in the events and not to have winners announced at the end. However, humans are naturally competitive creatures and even if the organiser is not comparing scores you can be assured that the participants will.
There has been a growth in non-competitive teambuilding programmes. These use one task which the whole team involves itself in together. Thus individuals are not separated from each other and the competition is between the team and the task and not between sub teams.
One of the most popular of these is an event in which teams work on smaller paintings which are put together in the end to make one big picture. Communication between all participants is essential so that the end result achieves some sort of congruence with the individual pictures. The end result can be kept by the participants to remind them of their event.
There are various other options available including Community Teambuilding in which teams take on a community project for example renovating a building or transforming wasteland into a garden. One team built an enclosure at a wildlife park for young tigers. The possibilities for projects of this nature are limitless.
In the majority of cases the essential requirement of teambuilding events is that the participants have fun and in such cases the traditional round robin activity format may be appropriate. However, if there is a real need to bond the team together the organiser should consider whether dividing the group into small groups is ultimately the right thing to do.
James Coakes is managing director of Progressive Resources, the Teambuilding Company, based in the UK and offering one of the widest ranges of activity programmes available. Find out more at http://www.teambuilding.co.uk