25 Years Professional Event Management

The Essence of Team Building through Activities

 18th Sep 2007

These goals are notoriously hard to measure, but there is one key benefit that is harder still. It is the one outcome which leads to all of the others and it comes from social activity and also participation is shared work activities. It is the 'shared experience' and although it may not sound as much, and certainly not as impressive as the more lofty goals such as leadership, it is one of the cornerstones of building relationships and a key route to trust.

The power of shared experience became apparent to me on a day when we were running activities around the MBTi (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). The idea was that we would run through the theory and let everyone know which type they and their colleagues were. Then we would run a series of command task style activities and use them to examine different types in more detail. Command tasks are activities such as building a bridge and crossing a minefield (grid of squares); short, sharp, fun activities where behaviour can be observed by everyone.

At the end of the task the team was asked to comment on what they saw. The intention was that participants would give examples of MBTi in action, for example citing something that demonstrated introversion or extroversion. The reality was that the first things that the groups wanted to talk about were much more personal. Jane struggled to balance and the rest of the team came to her aid. In one activity musical instruments were used for communication. Andrew was taking on this task with such enthusiasm that he put his hand through a tambourine. Everyone enjoyed this and it was what they wanted to talk about afterwards.

This experience illustrates that for most people it is these shared human experiences which really matter. Most of us are not trained psychologists but we are all very experienced in having relationships and we know what feels good and what makes relationships better.

Shared experience, fun and memories that can be recalled later are not easy to measure. They are, however, the essence of what relationships are made of. They increase trust and make communication much easier. Team building events are full of these incidents, in a pleasant environment away from the day to day challenges of work. It cannot be measured but in many ways it's obvious.

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