Successful Team Building Secrets

A media interview with Michael Bode, CEI Asia Pacific

Q: How much emphasis do companies now place on teambuilding programmes?

A: Companies certainly now recognize the value of positive teamwork, but how much emphasis they place on actually developing teams through teambuilding programs can depend on a number of different factors. Because the concept has sometimes become overused, companies are now expecting highly engaging programs with measurable outcomes. Most organizations now recognize that good teams require ongoing targeted improvement, not a one-off 'fix'.

Q: What, if any, growth have you witnessed in the popularity of such programmes?

A: Team building programs have continued to increase in popularity, but the types of team building programs that are now popular have changed. Basic games that focus on the 'feel good' factor can be perceived as childish and are no longer as popular as programs that are more intelligent in their approach, as companies have to justify the outcomes and see results. Programs that develop teams using solid educational methods - where the team building is a vehicle or tool for dealing with pertinent issues - are becoming very popular.

Q: Essentially, what do teambuilding activities try to achieve and how do those activities benefit companies and employees?

A: Quality team building programs help people recognize their personal strengths and areas of challenge in the context of a team. They enable individuals to become more tolerant of each other and develop positive communication strategies, which is vital in any organization - but particularly in a multi cultural region such as Asia. Team building programs shouldn't (contrary to public belief) simply promote "group think" between like-minded people, but they should instead encourage expressions of diversity in an atmosphere of tolerance and with a common goal in mind. Good team building will allow individuals to identify issues that often are below the radar, and to create an environment where people can talk about them under the guidance of an experienced facilitator.

Q: What are the benefits of more physical adventure activities?

A: Whilst I personally feel that 'adventure learning' is a great way to develop people because the experiences are very real, it is not always practical to run these sorts of programs - especially these days with the concerns about liability and safety issues.

We have found that although often a few energy-charged individuals might love the outdoor adrenaline rush activities, these activities sometimes only cater for a certain type of personality and intimidate or exclude others. Good team building programs should include and involve everyone.

At Tirian we have dealt with these concerns by designing programs that have the outcomes and fun of adventure programs, but are more suited for a broad contemporary corporate market.

Q: What are the benefits of more cerebral ones like musical activities?

A: Every company is looking for something different, and programs that focus on music activities provide another perspective. These programs will engage other types of participants, and can open up new areas of exploration for those who do not consider themselves musical - thus creating an openness to learning something new in the group context.

Q: Could you please list some of the more popular physical and musical activities.

A: At Tirian we design all our own programs trying to offer something for clients that have already experienced more standard programs. We like to combine the best of adventure and cerebral learning, and in the programs that we have designed that do this the most creatively are our unique 'Cultural Adventures'(TM), in which people can immerse themselves in a different culture and use this as a basis for discovering more about themselves and their own company culture. These active programs encourage individuals and teams to see challenging issues from new perspectives, and they utilize original cultural themes to provide memorable impact.

Our most popular cultural adventure is "Kampung Village Celebrations: Building the Corporate Village" (TM) in Bali, where we have the participants from the company build an entire Balinese village and in the process explore some management secrets to long term community survival. This program provides a blend of the latest management ideas coupled with traditional community values.

Our programs 'The Sultan's Quest' and 'The Ramayana Rescue' take the action up a notch. By building and racing traditional devices and reenacting the mythology of different cultures, participants can enjoy more of a competitive challenge while experiencing something completely new.

Set on another continent altogether, Tirian's signature program "On Thin ICE" (TM) takes people on a simulated expedition to Antarctica to look at team issues under pressure. We can theme up a good conference room to make the participants feel that they really are on an iceberg fighting for survival!