I been in the right place but it musta been the wrong time - Dr. John
People are social animals with a fundamental need to gather and socialize. For many, their primary social environment is at work. When the pandemic sent people away from the workplace, it sent away with them the opportunity to socialize and use their social skills. Teams are likely to have lost strength and solidarity. Individuals will be less socially confident and competent. Leaders will reasonably -- and rightfully -- decide that the need for team building is high, if for no reason other than to simply come together. It’s obvious. Or is it?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …”
This opening line from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities captures the paradox of team building. Just when the need for team building is greatest, it may also be the worst time to do it. The potential for gain is great. Team building can do wonders to give people the time and opportunity to share their personal experiences and gain the insight of the team. But the same conditions raise the risk of two unwanted outcomes:
- Crop dusting. Individuals have been away from each other so long they may be shy and literally have little to give the session the energy expected. and may hold back on their true selves resulting in "meh" team building.
- Complete disaster. It will be especially difficult to predict where things may go. Some participants may be experiencing pent up aggression, others, compromised resilience (or even mild depression). The mix can be explosive.
So, what’s at the root of this paradox?