Team Building or Team Busting?


Clare, my dentist, said her favourite part of Soup is The New Coffee is the day Soup Bling is exported into the Scottish countryside for a team-building event. She said I must have experienced a few in my working life. Indeed – I’ve attempted Soup Bling’s challenge of creating the tallest structure using marshmallows and a packet of spaghetti. I’ve also been asked to paint with my fingers, jump through hoops (literally) and join a tug of war on the Isle of Skye.

And then there are the jolly warm-up exercises; designed for revelation but as agreeable as having root canal treatment. In my most recent introduction to a workshop we were asked ‘If you were a biscuit, what would you be?’ There really isn’t any way to answer that without offending the facilitator. Meanwhile I’m judged on whether being a Hobnob subconsciously reveals a leaning towards apathy or an aversion to technology.

It’s no surprise to me that enthusiasts in any group dive in with relish asking, ‘Ooh, what shall I do?’ The cynical hold back until assigned a specific task: ‘Do you think you can make some balls out of newspaper and paint them red?’ And then there are the concrete-thinking, analytical stiffs, who wait, grim-faced, for the challenge to pass like a kidney stone. I remember one colleague standing outside our group with his arms folded, rigid with fury because we had been asked to illustrate (with large sheets of paper and felt pens) the benefits of a new system.

I haven’t checked the evidence – I could be way off the mark. There may be a tower of stats proclaiming team-building exercises improve work productivity. But I suspect, as for the majority, that the word ‘team-building’ triggers an internal shudder of loathing.

Soup Is The New Coffee by Lisa Stewart

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I'm Lisa and I'm blogging about Edinburgh, having fun with writing and amusing ideas.

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