Why Team Building Activities are Waste of Time

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Nobody needs telling that team building activities are a waste of time and money.  A lot of managers and their teams get irritated at the mention of team-building events.  

Most employees do not like to perform trust exercises or dressing up as animals.   They do not want to slide on playground slides like toddlers.  It feels embarrassing and insulting to them.

Imagine a grown-up person turning up and be forced to play puppet-on-a-string for the whole day.  These are not things that should be done by adults.  

Many managers do not like team-building events but find it hard to avoid them. Because refusing to take part is like committing management suicide.  The consequences can be far worse than getting on with them.  So, the sensible thing to do is to go along with them.

Employees and Team-building Activities for Managers

There are good reasons for wanting employees and managers to participate in team-building activities.  But there is not much reason to think that when employees spend time playing and messing around will make them bond as a team in the end.   

Some people do not mind attending team-bonding activities.  But, not all want to participate for the benefit of the team.  Team-building events are mixing bowls for individuals.  

Some people want to participate because of their interests.  Particularly those who are addicted to playing workplace politics.  And others who want to get closer to senior managers.  So the outdoor team building games for employees provide great opportunities to expose themselves for promotions.   

Others only take part to avoid being labeled antisocial miseries.  But they find the entire experience very troubling, humiliating, and irritating.

More read: Learn How to Improve Employee Job Satisfaction and Morale

I have participated in many team-building activities.  I have learned that you cannot force employees to have fun and then hope it will boost their morale, motivation, or collaboration at work.

Effective teamwork depends on all team members agreeing with each other.  But not all employees agree on the benefits of attending team-building events.  If all cannot agree on the benefits, they are not going to collaborate or share a common goal.  

So, forcing employees to take part in team-building activities is pointless.  It is a debacle that destroys morale, wastes resources, and people’s time.    

Someone can argue that at least employees get a day off work.  But I will not call it a day off, because people cannot stay at home and do the things they want.  

Team-Building Games 

Some people really think that if employees spend time together having fun, playing team games, and rolling around on the floor in fancy dresses, improves teamwork, in the end, is total nonsense.

There are no sustainable long term benefits of playing indoor or outdoor team building games. The fun people enjoy on the day is short-lived.

It does not lead to meaningful teamwork in a real work environment. Team building games are for fun, which is entirely different from the actual working atmosphere.  The real team member collaboration happens in the workplace environment when employees feel:

1. Being engaged
2. Given opportunities to learn and grow
3. Trusted and respected
4. Appreciated and empowered
5. Their leaders are honest
6. Recognized for their work
7. Freedom to experiment
8. Freedom to say what they want

It is an excellent quality of leadership that builds and reinforces real teamwork.  Not one-day fun activities.  Good managers don’t only focus on employees having fun, but also on their happiness and fulfilment.  

Also read: Becoming a Manager: Great Tips For First-Time New Managers

You can put a group of employees into a room and show them a nice video.  But it will not help them to reach a state of happiness. And team building activities are not about happiness, but just fun.  

The two things are not the same.  You can have lots of fun pretending in your fancy dress for a day, but it will not make you happy in the long run.

Most employees hate their jobs because of managers and colleagues.  So, forcing them to spend the whole day in team building escapades with the same people they want to stay away from is not helpful unless you want to make their lives more miserable.  

They will instead enjoy spending that day painting the office walls.  Instead of pretending to be friends with the same people, they are trying to avoid.

Organic Team-building 

There’s no team-building fun that can genuinely glue disenchanted employees together.  Team games cannot fix a toxic workplace culture.  It’s only good leadership that can create an atmosphere of togetherness in the workplace.

So if you force employees to have fun regardless they’re enjoying it or not, it will not lead to better teamwork.  It’s like telling them you must enjoy yourself whether you like it or not.

Team-building doesn’t need to have fun in a particular place. A good manager can put some of the elements of team-building principles in the team’s daily work. 

If you want your employees to have fun, and become a strong team that works, create a pleasant work environment – the sort of situation which will allow sustainable teamwork to develop organically in its own time. 

What do you think about the outdoor team building games for employees? – please let me know your thoughts in the comments box below

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