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Team Building Isn’t For Everyone

Team building … It’s not for everyone

Team building experiences are savored by some; dreaded by others. Attempting a challenge, big or small, can be exhilarating, satisfying and scary, all at once. This spread of reactions is what keeps it interesting, each group unique.

Team building isn’t a silver bullet.

Team building IS about possibilities, identifying individual character, developing collective strengths, learning something new (about self and others) and stretching boundaries. It’s a great way to put the over-thinking, over-processing and over-analyzing on hold for a while and enjoy the rewards of decisiveness, courage, collaboration and tenacity.

One team building exercise that stands out as a stellar example of possibilities was with a group of HRD professionals. One of the young men on this team, Dean, had never walked. Between crutches and an electric scooter he kept up with the most mobile person in any crowd. Since the day was to be spent climbing an Alpine Tower we’d found alternate roles for Dean and a few others who were squeamish about heights. They would belay, help develop strategies and, of course, cheer on their climbing team mates. What we didn’t anticipate was that this extraordinary young man was the most daring one in the crowd. After the group completed their challenges successfully, the question was asked, “Did anyone NOT attempt something they wanted to?” Dean spoke up. He explained that most kids climb trees but he never had. In fact, he’d never been off the ground without an elevator. He wanted to climb. The group rallied and quickly came up with a plan. Dean was strapped into the harness and belay lines. As two guys each planted a shoulder under him to support his body weight, a half dozen others moved in behind to support and push them up the tower, straining upwards one step at a time. Surrounded by applause and cheering, Dean reached the platform and pulled himself into a seated position. As he surveyed the landscape and the team who’d been part of the 25 minute ascent there were a lot of high-fives and hugs; not a dry eye in the crowd.

So what does “team” look like in your world? How connected and engaged are your team members? Are they equally committed to the goal regardless of roles? Are you and your team good candidates for team building?

Who ISN’T a good candidate for a team building experience? The person who:

• Rejects challenge; is committed to status quo • Stifles collaboration • Is convinced the team is made up of idiots, capable of little

Who IS a good candidate for team building? The person who:

• Believes NOW is the best time to learn • Contributes their talents to the greater good; helps others develop their capacity • Trusts in self and others to make good decisions and offer valuable insights

Anyone lucky enough to be part of a successful team building event will experience a balance of challenge, competition and fun. The BUSINESS of play leaves a team and its players energized, sometimes transformed and always equipped with a new understanding of possibilities and potential. Take a chance. Tap into that inner hero. Get in on a team building session and see what’s been missing.

What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand. (Confucious)

Guest writer – Celeste Raines has facilitated learning and team building and experiential learning in organizations throughout the US.


Filed Under: Journal Featured

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