Teaching People to Work Together

It’s funny how when we are small kids, we don’t need to be taught to get together to have fun. Yet when we grow up, oraganizations spend large sums of money to teach adults how to work together. Team building is becoming an important thing for many companies. Today I was called back to a RSAF team building event; Last Friday, my work place organized a team building retreat at Orchid Country Club.

Since Mindef will probably not like me talking too much about today’s team building (particularly since I thought the unstructured activities lacked specific purpose and outcome), let me share a little more about last Friday’s one instead.

The place at Orchid Country Club was nice. It would have been nicer at Bintan. But alas, we had to make do with a venue in Singapore. I guess, we make compromises to strike a suitable balance between people across very different age groups and cultures. The activities? Well, this team building company does things through games. That’s nice. Better than sitting in lectures to listen how you should work in teams, or doing workshop-style to induce participation, games are also a great way to engage people to work together.

Well, did everyone really enjoy the games? Ok, the games weren’t strenuous or physically taxing. But they did involve physical activity (i.e. you will perspire). I think there are some folks who felt uncomfortable. Other games might also have been too kiddo for some people’s comfort level. Yes, yes, time to move out of your comfort zone and all that. The games work for me, but I imagine there would be people who prefer a workshop than to play games.

We go through life working with many different teams. There are teams that work so perfectly. Everyone knows how they fit in and work in harmony to produce outstanding work. Then there are other teams that are not so happy, but they know what they must do and agree to work together for mutual benefit. There are times, though, when we are stuck with teams that refuse to work together. The difficult teams where some members cause more pain than benefit. How do you fix these teams? Of course in the free world you could just cut loose those thorns. But sometimes you are stuck with those people, not by your choice.

It leads me to think: Do we really need “formal instruction” on team building? If a team can work, they will work. Maybe they are just too caught up with their own work to realize they are in fact working in a team. All we need, perhaps, is a social or recreational event to get people to interact. But if a team cannot work, will a team building course change anything?

Sigh… not an easy thing eh. Perhaps “team building” is an excuse to spend money on recreational activities in the name of corporate training…

2 Responses to Teaching People to Work Together

  1. perhaps its like what you said…. Managers need time off. So, off they go with all sorts of activity to keep them away from work. Best of all, they get paid for having fun

  2. if all your colleagues were there, you can use it to remind people of the principles during work time.

    maybe saying, remember the yellow, blue, orange balls principle. people might be reminded 😉

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