On a weekday afternoon, David Lengyel was setting up the final touches for a treasure hunt where teams got to use everything from calculators to GPS devices in order to solve some puzzles and to navigate the city.
A fun way to challenge colleagues
Based on the Amazing Race television series, it seemed like a birthday party or a college outing, however for Lengyel, the Houston firm Venture Up’s managing director, the activity was not just about having simple fun.
His corporate client intended for the firm’s employees to challenge each other while outside the office. This was to create new relationships that will potentially result in benefits when projects that require collaboration across departments are needed.
Lengyel expresses how diversity means everything. For him, the worst team is a group of people who are all similar. They may be able to get things done but will lack the innovation.
Team building activities a mainstay
Team building activities started in the corporate world of the 90’s. It may seem that team building should be moved to the archives with the word “synergy.” However, 20 years later, team building is still a hit in many corporations looking to get their employees working together often.
Even during the oil bust, the Anadarko Petroleum Corp. still continue to do team building events. In one instance, it had its logistics managers and lawyers assemble bicycles together for those low income students. In another instance, it had their call centre employees use post-it notes to make a huge Pac-Man on a wall.
Amanda McMillian, Anadarko’s General Counsel, says that during the past years, their teams have made innovative ideas for their corporate team building activities with little cost or none at all which resulted in their organization being more efficient and aligned.
Team building activities have roots in the 20’s to 30’s where psychological studies wanted to better grasp why the factory workers’ productivity receded. The concept was then the subject of many journal articles and books where social scientists got attached to the idea of employees performing better when they feel part of one unit with a set goal.