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Corporate Team Building Events
and the Life Skills They Teach
We spend the majority of our time working. The adult lifestyle of today demands that for most people, five days a week are spent using our knowledge to complete a job, striving for progression, increased pay, and increased responsibility. Humans are creatures of habit and, after getting into a routine, it’s easy to lose yourself in the flow of working life, potentially learning new things about your specialist subject every so often and using them on the job.
This leaves a dilemma though. What about the less quantifiable skills that you could benefit from learning? If you spend your day doing the same tasks in the same way with the same people, many of the soft skills or life skills that could help you progress or improve yourself aren’t being taught to you. This is a dilemma that many individuals face in today’s busy hectic age where we don’t have too much time to ourselves.
The realisation that this is happening can lead to dissatisfaction at work and a general negative mindset permeating your life. This affects you as well as the business that you work for, and one of the answers that businesses have come up with is the concept of corporate team building. Across the world, organisations hire corporate event management companies to create activities and games that help engage and unite their staff whilst developing useful soft skills.
As employees, we have a habit of looking at the phrase ‘team building’ in a negative way. Many consider it a waste of time or simply an excuse to get out of doing your usual work. However, whilst bad team building activities do exist, good ones do as well. The truth is that many corporate events can teach you things that you won’t learn in a traditional work scenario, but which will benefit you in the future, and this is exactly what we will be discussing today.
Whether you are based in San Francisco and rarely attend team building activities or continually find yourself at corporate events in London, these skills are universal and this article applies to all individuals and all businesses.
By far, one of the most difficult soft skills to teach is leadership.
It’s easy to find leadership classes or management courses that break this skill down into an academic system, but the issue is that leadership can only truly be learnt through practice. This is because it demands a combination of skills. Leaders must be able to think on their feet, behave confidently, and balance the needs of their team with the requirements of their task. Ultimately, leaders need to have exceptional social skills as well as impressive analytical skills, which is a challenging mix of abilities to obtain.
Many good team building events centre around group activities that force you into a leadership role. When presented with a real-life scenario, if you are trying to improve yourself, it’s easy to quickly analyse where you are making errors and learn from your time as a leader, impacting your future in work and improving your chances of progression.
Problem solving is one of the most obvious benefits of team building.
Almost all corporate event management companies shape their activities around problems and puzzles, forcing the participants to think methodically and analytically to achieve their goal. Anything from building a bridge out of paper and tape, through to solving an orienteering challenge requires problem-solving and, in the workplace, it’s just as useful.
The amount of problem-solving that you do on a regular basis is dependent on your job role so it might be that you spend a large amount of time analysing information and obtaining a solution. Regardless, more practice solving issues using the information presented to you is guaranteed to help you in the future.
Social Skills, Conflict Management and Teamwork
Social skills are one of the most important soft skills that you can have, not only for employment and in the workplace but throughout life. Empathising with others, understanding body language and being able to explain your thought process coherently plays a huge role in how you can engage with others and achieve your goals.
Whilst most job roles demand good communication skills, it’s important to note that different situations improve different aspects of your interpersonal skill set. As a customer service employee, you’re likely to develop good emotional management and conflict defusing skills. As a member of a construction team, you can expect to practice effective use of teamwork through understanding the skills and needs of your co-workers. The issue is that some job roles simply don’t demand practice in specific aspects of the social skills field.
If a corporate team building even is well designed, it will require multiple social skills to be tested. For example, an activity may involve splitting into teams, managing resources and buying selling from other groups at the event. Your group would need to communicate quickly, create a plan and ascertain the first course of action based on each other’s skill sets. Who is the best resource manager? Who is the best salesman? Who is the best negotiator? This requires lots of teamwork, let alone the social skills required to complete the role of a buyer, seller, leader or manager.
By putting your effort into a task like this you are observing and developing these skills; observing the behaviours of others and trying to achieve a goal at the same time. These never leave you and play a big role in future career and social progression.
Accountability and Responsibility
Remaining accountable and taking responsibility for your work can be challenging, particularly when things go wrong.
However, these are key skills to show trustworthiness and most importantly, the desire to improve yourself. Admitting a mistake is the first step towards not making the same error again and employers, as well as your average person on the street, recognise this.
Team building events present a great opportunity for you to push your accountability to the next level. Working as part of a team at a team building event is the perfect middle ground between a mock scenario and a real-life situation; the perfect stepping stone if you feel uncomfortable about admitting mistakes in the workplace.
Within a game or activity, it’s much easier to say that you did something wrong and, upon observing the reactions of those around you, it’s also easier to realise that people value honesty above perfection. Put effort into your team building activity and, even if you fail, you will practice a worthwhile life skill.
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Finally, we have one of the most important soft skills you can have – time management.
People spend years emphasising the importance of time management. In school, in university, in work, time management is important for a host of different reasons.
This is another skill that you may practice within your usual working day and you may not. For example, some employees have to complete a set number of tasks within the hour, in which case time management is essential. On the flip side, other job roles are much looser in their expectations and require fluidity. Regardless, you can benefit throughout your life from knowing how to effectively use your time.
Corporate event management organisations put a large emphasis on this skill in particular. Almost all team building games come with some form of time limit, forcing the participants to think about both how they are going to solve a problem and how quickly they can do it too. Trying during these tasks is a brilliantly effective way of improving your time management abilities.
Hopefully, this guide will have highlighted some of the value that corporate team building events and the life skills that come along with them can have. The next time that your employer organises a team building event, do your best to invest your energy into it. You will only ever get out what you put in.
About the Author
Gianluca Bruce is a team building specialist based in Grimsby, Lincolnshire. After a stint teaching Social Sciences for a charity in Guyana, Bruce returned home and began working as an employee engagement specialist for a rewards consultancy, where he has specialised on the impact of team building on the workplace environment.