Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Freshly baked sole
Just when you thought team building activities had disappeared off the motivation radar it appears that in Italy, taking off your Ferragamo shoes for a quick (and I do mean quick) stroll across some hot coals for team building is still in fashion. Unfortunately when it goes wrong and the corporate event participants are running on the sides of their feet to the nearest reporter then companies should sit up and take notice. According to today's online Age newspaper 'a motivation day organised by one of Italy's biggest real estate agencies ended in tears and scars when nine staff had to be treated in hospital after walking barefoot on a bed of hot coals'. Well what did you expect if you go around stomping on a barbecue, isn't that the point? I detest corporate team bonding events and still bear the scars of one too many blind folded guided walks across a team made paper cup and pipe cleaner bridge whilst Japanese drumming and writing down my 'barriers to success' using brightly colour pen on shiny butchers paper. They are pointless. I once met a woman who had been working in the UK and she told me about a team bonding event that required all of her department to jump of an oil rig platform in the north sea or somewhere. She was relentlessly pressured by both activity leaders and colleagues to the point of any decent relationship she had with these people being reduced to name calling and bullying. She stood firm and didn't strap an inflatable life raft to her head and also didn't stay with the company. I think losing employees over these one size fits all activities is often understated. Who are these people who are so devoid of interest in their lives that they must act out their GI Joe fantasies with the assumption that it's good for everyone. If you failed scouts then you move on! The next time someone requires a team motivation activity I am going to suggest either a day of shoe shopping or if that doesn't grab you, go off on a peacekeeping mission to Afghanistan where you can get you dress up and jump out of any number of moving platforms screaming "yes, I am the man" until someone takes a pot shot at you - and may or may not miss. The whole point of these exercises is to take people out of their comfort zone. Well yes, they leave their comfortable homes every day to come to work in a place with people they may or may not like knowing the company may or may not continue to keep them and pay them to be there. That's enough action for me for one day. As for the hot coals, I prefer to use them for the baked trout and potatoes, not corporate stinky feet.