On the face of it anyone watching the mess that the BBC apprentice teams made of organising a team building day could be forgiven for buying into the prejudices around team building that were re-enforced.
The reality however for the observant viewer was quite the reverse. The task was introduced by the show’s host Alan Sugar as “an away-day for corporate clients – not a jolly, you understand, but an exercise in team building, and communication and listening skills”.
I can only assume that the apprentice candidates had already switched off at this point because the solutions they provided came straight from the David Brent School of management development.
The briefing meetings with their blue chip clients so clearly re-enforced Lord Sugar’s message about outcomes that when it became clear the 2 teams, Evolve and Endeavour had totally missed the point I began to wonder how much of the program I could endure.
It certainly made good TV but most of all, once I had managed to get over my discomfort, it shows just how dysfunctional teams can become without good communication and listening skills.
Experience into Learning
Filling a day with activities without understanding how to turn that experience into learning is, without doubt, a complete waste of time and money. No shock then when both clients on the show asked for significant cash back for a complete failure to satisfy the clearly expressed desired outcomes.
In spite of the show I hope, dear reader, you will still want to explore the opportunity to develop your team through experiential team building so let me provide some thoughts to help you get the most out your investment:
- Decide how you need your team to improve, what do those improvements look like?
- Chose a team-building provider with a proven track record.
- Talk to a senior representative of the provider. If they haven’t listened to you and cannot give you total confidence in their understanding of your agenda – move on to another.
- Ask to speak to at least one other client of theirs who is willing to recommend them.
- Make sure the event includes the services of an experienced facilitator.
- Meet the facilitator to ensure the chemistry will be right for your team.
- Only use a provider that can demonstrate results, ideally they should assess and record your team’s performance before, on the day and at agreed intervals after the event.
- Ensure that ALL of the team attend the event.
- Create expectations for them in advance; full participation is key – even for the cynics. A good facilitator will help you achieve this.
- If it’s worth doing don’t skimp, your team will feel valued if it’s clear you have invested in them.
If you are still sceptical about the value of team building contact me, I will do my best to persuade you and answer your concerns. Good luck.
Tim Chudley, Sundial Group's Managing Director