I sat on a plane prior to takeoff, watching with amusement the antics of five rowdy passengers. Even from 10 rows back, anyone could see these folks belonged to a team: each wore a crisp new jacket emblazoned with something like “XYZ Inc. Performance Conference 2018—Our People: Our Pride!” in vivid yellow on the front. The team’s lively chatter made it obvious that their destination was exciting and enviable, given the jackets were windbreakers, and it was a frigid -12°C outside the plane.
It may be surprising that large and small organizations—even those frazzled by economic challenges—continue to invest billions in such off-site team-building events. These glitzy, meticulously designed team experiences are meant to be different-from-the-everyday, fun events that bring a team together for renovation of relationships and improved results. While not every “off-site” event promises exotic locations, and some gatherings expose participants to “outward bound” physical or experiential forms of challenge and collaboration, participants consistently report their satisfaction with the bounty of synergy, fun and supportiveness to be had during these events.
As I sat on the plane, thinking of the experience ahead for Team XYZ, I enjoyed visualizing their arrival to an enthusiastic welcome and the opportunity they would have for new information and inspiration. They would be listened to respectfully and celebrated as valuable resources for the organization and for clients and colleagues. I hoped that, with their return, they would carry with them the promise of better workplace communication and alignment, improved workplace relations, and the belief that, together, they’ve now lit a very bright light at the end of the team performance tunnel.