RE: Your Inner Brad Pitt: Team Building Nonsense

Subject: RE: Your Inner Brad Pitt: Team Building Nonsense
From: "Humbird, Len - CFC" <Humbird -dot- Len -at- cfwy -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 1999 12:22:18 -0800

So what's the point of team building, ultimately? It's to get them more
productive, more efficient, etc. In other words, reduce wasted company time.

I've been through them also. I seem to remember an exercise where a group of
us had crash-landed in the arctic and had to decide what supplies to take
from the wreckage, what to leave behind, what our priorities were, who was
in charge, etc. This was a useless exercise because in a company you don't
have a democracy and you don't get a vote. Your options are: stay and
cooperate, complain and cooperate, or leave and don't let the door hit you
in the butt.

Personally I don't see team-building activities as effective use of
employee/employer time. Young, inexperienced candidates might benefit, but
they can learn those same skills in school or on the job. Those of us who
see this for what it is may find it an idle distraction that lets them get
away from their desks for a little while. But as Sharon pointed out, work
doesn't go away - it just piles up.

Does it make employees more productive? Is that the point? I doubt it. For
most, it gives them one more thing to ridicule and laugh about when it's

Does it make them happier? Is that the point of it? And what is the basis
for the happiness? I'd say marginally, and only for a couple days or a week.

Does it make them work together more effectively? In my case, even if I did
have the opportunity to utilize those allegedly new work-together skills, I
don't think I would have observed much change.

If you want employees to be happy and work together, then give them a
compelling reason to stick around. Money and stock options are nice
gestures, but some of the best people are not completely motivated by
financial incentives. How about paying them to research their industry, or
new ways of doing their jobs at trade shows and seminars? How about
involving some of the grunt workers in on the planning/scheduling process?
(It is, after all a team, right?) How about a work environment that's not
ergo-hostile? How about putting pool table and free video games in the break
room? How about encouraging employees to participate in networked,
strategic/tactical video gaming during certain periods of the work day? How
about flex-time, or letting them work from home a couple days a week? How
about sending a company-wide email of a new HR policy saying, "up yours" to
ultra-conservative political correctness? How about real culture for a

It's the culture that draws in the brilliant people to become the new VPs,
and high-scoring Joes to become your employees. That's what fosters and
enables spontaneous team building, and ultimately the kind of company I'd
love to work for.


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