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7 DISADVANTAGES OF TYPICAL TEAM BUILDING EVENTS

AUG 2022
26
7 DISADVANTAGES OF TYPICAL TEAM BUILDING EVENTS

Yeah, you read that right. We’re going to talk about team building’s DISADVANTAGES in this blog post.


“Team building is BAD for your group/workers/colleagues”...said noone ever, (counting out of course random TikTokers desperate for views).

That being said,  there ARE certain aspects - complicating factors, if you will - that you need to think about when planning team bonding activities. For example, they can be expensive, you need to organize them periodically, not everyone may like taking part and so on.

The purpose of this blog post is to reveal these aspects of team building exercises, so you have a better idea of what goes into organizing an event that’s suitable for YOUR team.

Team building events: concerns to consider

We often host team building events here at Fox in a Box Escape Room, during which we get to talk with business owners, HR folks and of course the team members themselves.

Plus, we’re always trying to learn more about team building ourselves to see how we can improve our offerings.


That’s given up some decent insight into what the chief concerns people have on such events and the questions they ask themselves when organizing these activities.

Here are 7 top disadvantages of typical team building events:

  • They can be expensive

  • You may feel an urge to match what others are doing

  • They are a continuous process

  • Not everybody may enjoy taking part

  • They may not benefit everyone equally

  • They can backfire…

  • Their effectiveness is difficult to measure

Let’s take a look at each of these in some detail.

Some of them can be pretty expensive

There are various kinds of team building activities out there, and some of them can cost a pretty penny (including some that involve flying your team to a retreat for a bonding weekend). 

You may start asking yourself whether you really can afford to host such activities for your group.


Our insight: Ask yourself what is it that your team needs. Would that weekend retreat really help them function more cohesively? Would inviting that “team management guru” for a talk really give your people insight or inspiration they don’t already have?

You may find that smaller, more specific events are what your team really needs. Start small and experiment to find out what works best.

You may feel an urge to match what others are doing

You may have been bombarded with ads proclaiming some team building event to be the best ever. 

Or had your social media feed blown up with accounts of an experience some other company or group had, and now you’re feeling a pressure to have to provide the same for your team.


Our insight: Once again, keep the focus on the circumstances of your people. Don’t be swayed by what worked for others (or worse, what others thought to have worked for them).

They are a continuous process

In other words, you need to organize these events regularly. It’s not a magic pill that you can take just once and experience the benefits forever.

Which can lead to worries that time is being diverted from ‘productive’ work into ‘unproductive’ team outings.


Individual events can be pretty time-consuming both to plan and to actually carry out.

You might prefer scheduling them during off-hours or holidays. In which case your employees may decline to take part.

To encourage participation, opt for an activity that entices employees to take part.


Our insight: Effective team building will actually help your team improve productivity and performance. Think of the time spent on such events as investments in your team, which are expected to yield future returns.


Pro tip: There is a reason for many folks to think that team building activities are ‘unproductive’ uses of time - the activities themselves are not chosen well and fail to have a positive impact on the team.

Which takes us back to what I said moments ago - think about what kind of team activity would benefit your employees.

Not everybody may enjoy taking part

For example, some folks may think that cheering each other at the axe throwing venue or collaborating to find your way out of an escape room has little to do with their actual work. 

They could end up feeling resentful of having spent time that could have been spent on work on an activity they feel is pointless.


Our insight: Talk with your employees about why you’re organizing the event for them. 

Impress upon them that you’ve done the research and set up an activity that will actually benefit them, moving forward. 

And make it clear that you’re aware the event may lead to some delays in the immediate work the team is handling.

Some folks may not be able to participate

An active outdoors event may seem a sure bet, but people with disabilities may not be able to fully take part in them. Some people are just not the outdoors type, and may not enjoy the event even if they take part.

Even an online event may be difficult for some people to participate in, due to shared living quarters.


There are some kinds of team building alternatives, like escape room missions, that are designed to appeal to as many people as possible (by gamifying team building, keeping things indoors, making missions wheelchair-accessible and so on), but it’s safe to say that you may not find an activity that everyone enjoys fully.

You could keep switching between various kinds of events, to keep thing fresh.


Our insight: Make sure you know what your team members’ individual limitations and requirements are before you plan the event. And invite post-event feedback to plan future events better.

Some may not want to engage

There will always be some folks that don’t want to engage, preferring to take team building events as a day off.

They may choose to participate half-heartedly or not at all, preferring to stand apart, scrolling through their phones or gossipping among themselves.


Needless to say, this can ruin the experience for the others - they may not be able to effectively participate.


Our insight: Set the tone for the team. Emphasize that this is an opportunity for the entire team to improve their collective performance.


Pro tip: It will also help if you can design/choose activities that due to their thrilling or thought-provoking nature, stimulate everyone to actively participate.

They may not benefit everyone equally

Everyone on a team is different, with varying interests, skill levels, and personalities. Which is why it’s highly unlikely that any single activity will benefit everyone equally…or that everyone will enjoy every single activity equally.


Our insight: Take team building as a continuous process, and switch between various activities instead of doing the same thing every time.

You can also allow team members to drop out of certain events if they want to.

They can backfire…

…leading to tribalism and disagreements.

Sometimes, the exercise can become too competitive or intense, leading to squabbles between team members instead of the spirited communication and debates you were hoping would happen.

They can also lead to certain people on the team feeling superior to the others, and making such feelings explicit. This can happen especially where there is a “identify the next leaders, who can step up to the plate” aspect in the team building exercise.


Our insight: Frame the activity as a way or as an event that brings the team together and celebrates their achievements, in contrast to making them feel that it’s to correct something 

they’ve done wrong.


Pro tip: Organizing activities that are too large can lead to cliques based on shared feelings of superiority and/or dislike towards others. One way out of this is to opt for an activity that is designed to get the entire team working together, instead of giving them the chance to break up into competing factions.

Their effectiveness is difficult to measure

Being a continuous/constantly ongoing process, the success of any one team building event can be difficult to assess.

On the other hand, an event that the team just happened to deeply enjoy (for no particular reason) can lead to a sudden bump in productivity that’ll fade in a few weeks.


Our insight: Set reasonable goals (like “team members are reaching out to one another more often” rather than “team members aren’t arguing any more”), and assess them over time.

You can also anonymize the feedback process and make it clear that you’re looking for frank views, to get your team’s honest opinions on team building events.

The bottomline

All that being said, we know that investing in your team and helping them build team spirit can yield only positive outcomes.

And it’s pretty clear at this point that in talking of the “disadvantages of team building”, we were outlining that every group is different, and that you should assess your group’s profile, limitations and requirements when planning team building events.

We know that there are numerous options for team building for you to choose from.

Hopefully this blog post helps you recognize the factors that go into choosing and designing an effective team building activity for your group so you can better plan your next team event.

And if you want to discuss hosting an event in Chicago that will help your team, feel free to get in touch!


Featured image by Maike und Björn Bröskamp from Pixabay.



  BLOGS
7 DISADVANTAGES OF TYPICAL TEAM BUILDING EVENTS

Yeah, you read that right. We’re going to talk about team building’s DISADVANTAGES in this blog post.


“Team building is BAD for your group/workers/colleagues”...said noone ever, (counting out of course random TikTokers desperate for views).

That being said,  there ARE certain aspects - complicating factors, if you will - that you need to think about when planning team bonding activities. For example, they can be expensive, you need to organize them periodically, not everyone may like taking part and so on.

The purpose of this blog post is to reveal these aspects of team building exercises, so you have a better idea of what goes into organizing an event that’s suitable for YOUR team.

Team building events: concerns to consider

We often host team building events here at Fox in a Box Escape Room, during which we get to talk with business owners, HR folks and of course the team members themselves.

Plus, we’re always trying to learn more about team building ourselves to see how we can improve our offerings.


That’s given up some decent insight into what the chief concerns people have on such events and the questions they ask themselves when organizing these activities.

Here are 7 top disadvantages of typical team building events:

  • They can be expensive

  • You may feel an urge to match what others are doing

  • They are a continuous process

  • Not everybody may enjoy taking part

  • They may not benefit everyone equally

  • They can backfire…

  • Their effectiveness is difficult to measure

Let’s take a look at each of these in some detail.

Some of them can be pretty expensive

There are various kinds of team building activities out there, and some of them can cost a pretty penny (including some that involve flying your team to a retreat for a bonding weekend). 

You may start asking yourself whether you really can afford to host such activities for your group.


Our insight: Ask yourself what is it that your team needs. Would that weekend retreat really help them function more cohesively? Would inviting that “team management guru” for a talk really give your people insight or inspiration they don’t already have?

You may find that smaller, more specific events are what your team really needs. Start small and experiment to find out what works best.

You may feel an urge to match what others are doing

You may have been bombarded with ads proclaiming some team building event to be the best ever. 

Or had your social media feed blown up with accounts of an experience some other company or group had, and now you’re feeling a pressure to have to provide the same for your team.


Our insight: Once again, keep the focus on the circumstances of your people. Don’t be swayed by what worked for others (or worse, what others thought to have worked for them).

They are a continuous process

In other words, you need to organize these events regularly. It’s not a magic pill that you can take just once and experience the benefits forever.

Which can lead to worries that time is being diverted from ‘productive’ work into ‘unproductive’ team outings.


Individual events can be pretty time-consuming both to plan and to actually carry out.

You might prefer scheduling them during off-hours or holidays. In which case your employees may decline to take part.

To encourage participation, opt for an activity that entices employees to take part.


Our insight: Effective team building will actually help your team improve productivity and performance. Think of the time spent on such events as investments in your team, which are expected to yield future returns.


Pro tip: There is a reason for many folks to think that team building activities are ‘unproductive’ uses of time - the activities themselves are not chosen well and fail to have a positive impact on the team.

Which takes us back to what I said moments ago - think about what kind of team activity would benefit your employees.

Not everybody may enjoy taking part

For example, some folks may think that cheering each other at the axe throwing venue or collaborating to find your way out of an escape room has little to do with their actual work. 

They could end up feeling resentful of having spent time that could have been spent on work on an activity they feel is pointless.


Our insight: Talk with your employees about why you’re organizing the event for them. 

Impress upon them that you’ve done the research and set up an activity that will actually benefit them, moving forward. 

And make it clear that you’re aware the event may lead to some delays in the immediate work the team is handling.

Some folks may not be able to participate

An active outdoors event may seem a sure bet, but people with disabilities may not be able to fully take part in them. Some people are just not the outdoors type, and may not enjoy the event even if they take part.

Even an online event may be difficult for some people to participate in, due to shared living quarters.


There are some kinds of team building alternatives, like escape room missions, that are designed to appeal to as many people as possible (by gamifying team building, keeping things indoors, making missions wheelchair-accessible and so on), but it’s safe to say that you may not find an activity that everyone enjoys fully.

You could keep switching between various kinds of events, to keep thing fresh.


Our insight: Make sure you know what your team members’ individual limitations and requirements are before you plan the event. And invite post-event feedback to plan future events better.

Some may not want to engage

There will always be some folks that don’t want to engage, preferring to take team building events as a day off.

They may choose to participate half-heartedly or not at all, preferring to stand apart, scrolling through their phones or gossipping among themselves.


Needless to say, this can ruin the experience for the others - they may not be able to effectively participate.


Our insight: Set the tone for the team. Emphasize that this is an opportunity for the entire team to improve their collective performance.


Pro tip: It will also help if you can design/choose activities that due to their thrilling or thought-provoking nature, stimulate everyone to actively participate.

They may not benefit everyone equally

Everyone on a team is different, with varying interests, skill levels, and personalities. Which is why it’s highly unlikely that any single activity will benefit everyone equally…or that everyone will enjoy every single activity equally.


Our insight: Take team building as a continuous process, and switch between various activities instead of doing the same thing every time.

You can also allow team members to drop out of certain events if they want to.

They can backfire…

…leading to tribalism and disagreements.

Sometimes, the exercise can become too competitive or intense, leading to squabbles between team members instead of the spirited communication and debates you were hoping would happen.

They can also lead to certain people on the team feeling superior to the others, and making such feelings explicit. This can happen especially where there is a “identify the next leaders, who can step up to the plate” aspect in the team building exercise.


Our insight: Frame the activity as a way or as an event that brings the team together and celebrates their achievements, in contrast to making them feel that it’s to correct something 

they’ve done wrong.


Pro tip: Organizing activities that are too large can lead to cliques based on shared feelings of superiority and/or dislike towards others. One way out of this is to opt for an activity that is designed to get the entire team working together, instead of giving them the chance to break up into competing factions.

Their effectiveness is difficult to measure

Being a continuous/constantly ongoing process, the success of any one team building event can be difficult to assess.

On the other hand, an event that the team just happened to deeply enjoy (for no particular reason) can lead to a sudden bump in productivity that’ll fade in a few weeks.


Our insight: Set reasonable goals (like “team members are reaching out to one another more often” rather than “team members aren’t arguing any more”), and assess them over time.

You can also anonymize the feedback process and make it clear that you’re looking for frank views, to get your team’s honest opinions on team building events.

The bottomline

All that being said, we know that investing in your team and helping them build team spirit can yield only positive outcomes.

And it’s pretty clear at this point that in talking of the “disadvantages of team building”, we were outlining that every group is different, and that you should assess your group’s profile, limitations and requirements when planning team building events.

We know that there are numerous options for team building for you to choose from.

Hopefully this blog post helps you recognize the factors that go into choosing and designing an effective team building activity for your group so you can better plan your next team event.

And if you want to discuss hosting an event in Chicago that will help your team, feel free to get in touch!


Featured image by Maike und Björn Bröskamp from Pixabay.



  BLOGS