In my last blog post, I defended team-building activities and shared a few best practices that I have learned over the years. Obviously, I am a BIG believer in team building. Despite its reputation for being a waste of time, team building is the most important investment you can make for your people. It builds trust, mitigates conflict, encourages communication, and increases collaboration.
But I do acknowledge that people have been subjected to some awful team building activities – I can only assume the leaders involved were well intentioned, but the activities themselves went horribly wrong and did far more damage that good.
Here are a few real-life, team-building nightmares:
“My work had a teambuilding event where they told everybody to go into the conference room and BAM — snakes. They’d got some kind of animal handler in to help us face our fears. Some people left in protest, others in actual terror.”
“My company hired an improv group to bring all the employees together. After an opening skit, which was admittedly pretty funny, we were assigned different animals and we went around the room telling people the qualities they shared with their assigned animal. Great if you were randomly assigned a lion or an eagle – not so much for the pigs and sloths.”
“Two words – clown school. I nearly quit.”
“The worst one I had was where we tossed a bean bag around and said what we liked about the person we were tossing it to. It was an okay start, but then came Round Two, where we shared our “opportunities for improvement” about the person we were tossing it to. We went from not really knowing each other to actively disliking each other in about 30 minutes.”
I honestly can’t imagine what some of these organizations were thinking. But the sad truth is that there are many more stories like this out there, so let’s keep this sharing going. Think of it as post-traumatic team-building therapy! Share your tales of team-building terror in the comments area below. I look forward to hearing your stories!