In this article we discuss the mirage of team building activities and how they need to be conducted effectively.
A mirage is an optical illusion. Think of a guy crawling across the desert, slowly dying of
thirst. He sees an oasis with a beautiful cool source of water. The mirage gives him hope and makes him feel good – temporarily. And then reality hits when the oasis turns out to be a mirage. The struggle continues.
Many teams are like the guy crawling through the sand, struggling (unnecessarily). Then, in an effort to ease the pain, someone says “let’s do some teambuilding” and the mirage is created. A day of teambuilding is offered up and team members become hopeful and then… poof! The day of teambuilding is over (the mirage disappears) and everyone is back at the office crawling along. A group of people does not become a high functioning team simply because they’ve participated in a team building activity (or a day of activities). The activities are part of a “disciplined” approach to building a high performing team.
A high performing team starts with the organisation’s mission and vision and core values – – and I’m not talking about just the words they have on paper… I’m talking about how these are experienced and lived every day within the organisation. And it starts with the leadership acting as the role model. Every system within the organisation must support high performing (win-win) team consciousness – – these systems include but are not limited to: the training system, the planning system, the communication system, the budgeting system, the information system, and the compensation system.
Here’s a metaphor:
— Karen eats a salad at lunch and believes it will help her live a “healthy” life. But she eats at McDonalds 5x/week, doesn’t exercise, hates her job, has no friends and watches 40 hours of TV a week (a national average). Karen is chasing a mirage.
— Sally has committed to living a healthy life. She eats a diet based on the advise of a wise nutritionist (who has completed several in-depth surveys of Sally’s health), she has many deep and loving relationships with quality people, she laughs a lot, she loves her work, exercises regularly (and has fun doing it), read books that inspire her and enjoys nature. Sally is living a healthy lifestyle through discipline.
I see a lot of companies that act like Karen. I’d like to see more companies like Sally but it takes an enormous amount of discipline to follow that path (which, by the way, provides HUGE pay-offs).
Be careful your teambuilding doesn’t become a mirage!