Winter. It’s cold. And wet. And dark. It leads to the January blues and that mythical thing called ‘Blue Monday’ (The Guardian, 19 January 2015).
Yet this is the time of year when team building can be seen at its best. People are having to cover for staff taking Christmas breaks. Others are dealing with the effects of a cold, flu or even a stomach bug. Colleagues have to help out by taking on extra work when absence is caused by a worker or their family members being ill. Some people may be worrying about how to pay off the Christmas overspending. Others are doing their grumpy best to stick to new years’ resolutions involving no sweet things or alcohol. Yes, Dry January (Alcohol Concern) is officially A Thing now, as if January wasn’t already miserable enough. The days are cold, wet and darkly long. You go to work in the dark and you return in the dark. Daylight is that fleeting thing you only see at weekends. Tempers are short and nights are long. No more Bank Holidays until Easter, which is all the way away in April. December may have been the end of the financial year for some firms, and chances are, if that’s your firm, your poor accountant worked all the way through Christmas to ensure the figures were submitted before New Year.
Time for a change. A chance to shake up the winter sluggishness. The perfect time for a shouting, muddy, outdoor team building game? Or for curling up with a mug of hot chocolate and a quiz show with colleagues, if tastes run to something needing less muscle power and more brain power.
So why not reward your staff for their hard work over the winter? Arrange to book them on a suitably wacky team building game for that inevitable slump which hits all offices by the end of February. Give them something to look forward to. A bracing round of golf or a muddy zipline challenge; an orienteering day or simply a walk in the park where everyone is required to find out at least one new fact about someone they work with and two about someone they don’t.
Or perhaps a quiz show based on one of the timeless formats from Bruce Forsyth’s heyday in the 70s. A gameshow clone where experts oversee your staff trying their hands at throwing pots or answering observation-based questions after watching TV show clips or listening to music samples.
A team building events and games organiser will be able to suggest a suitably raucous game for the outdoors events as well as a suitably cerebral challenge for those who prefer to stay inside in the warm. They are used to fielding all kinds of requests from all kinds of firms and like nothing more than putting together a unique day to relax stressed out workers.
The thing is that team building events and games can range from a short conference energiser or meeting focusser lasting a few minutes (choose five items to take with you to a desert island, for instance) to a day long experience of white water rafting or a track day. Events are designed to be fun and light hearted while teaching team skills subliminally – your raft isn’t going to get down the flume without all of you steering it, nor is your team of drivers going to win purely by being the fastest around the track; no good barging everyone else out the way and being black flagged for dangerous driving, is there?
As a manager you could even decide to liven up regular potentially repetitive quarterly or monthly meetings by including a short team building game. I’ve certainly been in the kind of long meetings where even the chance to break for a drink would have been appreciated, never mind actually seeing how the clients would have reacted if we had asked them to let their hair down a bit. It’s amazing how a bit of fun can break down barriers between businesses and lead to a better understanding of people’s requirements.
If you work at a large firm, make a suggestion that a team building activities organiser is invited onto the team overseeing your induction days. Your new employees will see that it’s not all work and no play at their new firm, and those needing to attend annual training will begin to wonder what you have planned for them this time. Of course, you’ll always find one or two staff who find playing games in meetings beneath them, but generally a bit of fun never hurt anyone.
Today is bright and sunny as I look out of the window, and I’m quite relaxed and even slightly pleased to see the bright daylight. Though I can imagine how much more glum I would feel if I looked up from my typing and saw grey, leaden skies and curtains of rain. Give your employees a chance to have a bright sunny day in their wet, cold and endless winter days by booking them on a team building day today. They deserve a reward for all their hard work, after all.