We’ve all been on those outings outside of work—those outings labeled as “team building” activities. Perhaps it’s a company picnic. Maybe it’s a ropes course. Or bowling. Or the dreaded “trust falls.” Whatever the case—usually, we’re outside of office doors (that’s a great start!) and in an environment that’s supposed to help us facilitate team bonding and cohesiveness, thus “building” and strengthening the team.
If we’re really honest with ourselves, when have we ever gone to one of these outings and come back more productive and unified as a team?
Likely, the answer is never.
Probably because these teams are already built. So, “team building” can’t happen with a team that’s already put together, right?
Factor in the likelihood that this team outing most often takes place in a location that’s indoors and/or comfortable for most (office park, courtyard), and you’ve got the same situation that happens in the office between coworkers, just in slightly different locale.
But what if we changed the purpose of team “building” to team development? After all, isn’t that what we’re truly going for in a team “building” activity?
Here at Adventure for Charity, we believe and have seen that the best team building—and thus, team development—activity any company can do for their employees exists outdoors through adventure challenges. It doesn’t have to be as intense as summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro (even though the CEO of Zappos has done it with members of his team), or even cycling the Pacific Coast Highway. It can be any activity that gets employees outside, out of their comfort zone, and challenges them physically and emotionally. Even Harvard and NASA agree with us!
Here’s the thing about being outdoors for an adventure challenge: the great outdoors breaks down barriers and established behavior patterns, and helps boost creativity, communication and collaboration among
team members in a way that’s impossible in a classroom or a comfortable environment. We become raw versions of ourselves. This environment, new state of mind, combined with a facilitated session/conversation around the campfire (or a fireplace in a cabin/hotel) at the end of each day lead to individual and group transformation that sticks.
Next time your company wants to plan a team building activity, make that a team development experience and consider what it would do for you and your team both personally and professionally when you GET OUTSIDE. HAVE FUN. DO GOOD.