Employee reactions can be mixed when company leaders announce plans for a team-building activity that they hope will improve camaraderie and collaboration in the workplace.
Some workers express enthusiasm and others indifference, but at least one-third inwardly groan. A Citrix study once showed that 31 percent of employees say they dislike team-building activities altogether.
But that could be because too often such activities get the competitive juices flowing, even though the real goal is to get people working together, says Zorina Wolf, who facilitates team-building efforts using drum circles.
“Let’s face it, we are taught to be competitive, especially in the corporate world,” says Wolf, author of “Whole Person Drumming – Your Journey Into Rhythm” (www.villageheartbeat.com).
“So when people hear about plans for a team-building activity – in my case, a drumming activity – they start to worry about measuring up. Will I be able to do this? Will I look foolish compared to everyone else?”
Relax, Wolf says.
Team building shouldn’t be a time for co-workers to one-up each other.
“My message as a facilitator is about how to be a team,” Wolf says. “I know that some people will catch on more quickly than others. Too often in life, the people who immediately understand something new turn their backs on those who don’t. My goal is for those who ‘get it’ to become mentors for those who don’t.”
If drumming seems like an unusual team-building exercise, consider that companies have tried other approaches that are just as novel. A survey by the Creative Group, a specialized staffing service, revealed that some of those included dance-offs, psychic readings, pedicures and indoor surfing.
Wolf says there are several reasons why team-building activities are effective. She says they:
• Promote the importance of working together. “I think each of us has the desire to belong to something greater than ourselves,” Wolf says. In a cooperative learning situation, you’re allowed to lean on and learn from others.
• Inspire creativity. Team-building efforts can get your brain working in ways that it normally doesn’t. It’s easy in any workplace to get caught up in dull routines and to do everything by rote. When you’re forced to try something different, your senses wake up and your mind is open to new possibilities.
• Help employees bond in a more relaxed environment. Sometimes you just need to get away from the office and have fun. “Drumming can be a powerful medicine that can balance out the tension in our lives,” she says.
That means the next time the boss announces a team-building activity, there’s no need to panic – especially if it involves drums.
“Anyone can learn to drum,” Wolf says. “People may be skeptical of this, but there really is no such thing as being rhythmically challenged.”