How to Survive Team-building

I was never sure what the point of team-building was until the other day, when one of my co-workers explained logically and succinctly: “The point of team-building is make you feel as ridiculous as possible in order to form a common bond.” Sort of like hostage situations, or torture. Or, perhaps, exactly like torture. At any rate, I will now go over five simple steps to help you survive any team-building situations you may be likely to encounter. I’m like Mother Theresa over here. Somebody get me some good karma. Now.

STEP ONE: Take Pictures for Facebook

If there is one thing I know, it is that people LOVE to see pictures on Facebook. I have included some examples of pictures I posted so you can get a feel for what people would like to see.

Usually on Facebook, people enjoy seeing scenery from your environment. These environmental images usually include vacation photos of exotic places, or a picture of some fish you caught. However, when you are at work doing work stuff, that isn’t very practical. In my situation, I was taking a chartered bus to a team-building, so naturally I took at picture of the bus-seat upholstery.

Okay, I know that doesn’t seem astounding in and of itself, and I have to admit that it wasn’t until later that I realized they upholstered the CEILING with the very same fabric. Now THAT is impressive.

My next photo in the series of bus-upholstery photography.

Then I realized that photo really didn’t do justice to the whole scope of the bus upholstery ceiling, so I took another one.

This was a much better shot.

If there is anything the people of Facebook adore more than pictures from your environment, it is information regarding what you are currently eating or drinking. As fate would have it, we were served lunch almost immediately upon arrival to the teambuilding exercise. Therefore, this was my next brilliant Facebook post.

My Lunch

These people LOVE me.

STEP TWO: Find a Sarcasm Buddy

To find a sarcasm buddy, look for people rolling their eyes or looking generally miserable. Do NOT look for people who dance over enthusiastically when it is suggested that people go around the room and dance. Those people will NEVER be sarcastic with you. Also, please stay as far away from the dancing people as possible for your own safety. Trust me on this one.

Once you find your sarcasm buddy, you can never separate. Even if the ‘coaches’ (feel free to substitute the term sadist) at the team-building say that you can’t partner up with the same person, you have to totally ignore this. You never know when they are going to divide you into teams. For example, at one point, the ‘coaches’ yelled out for everyone to divide into groups of seven people by putting their fingers on the back of someone’s knee.*

It was incredibly awkward…mostly because I am extremely monogamous about letting people put their fingers on the back of my knee.

You never think you will need a shirt like this one until it is too late.

THEN… THAT, the scene with all the knee-touching, THAT was our team. If I hadn’t stood resolutely by my sarcasm buddy throughout this whole thing, I would be stuck on a team with this guy who was way too over-eager to put his damn finger on my knee. No one needs that.

But, don’t take my word on the importance of hyper-vigilance regarding team divisions. pictou ‏@pictou totally agrees with me, advising, “Watch out when they sort you into teams–it’s the divide and conquer theory.”

And believe me… you do NOT want to be conquered. Unless it means you can go home. But, alas, it doesn’t. Nothing can get you home short of purposefully wetting your pants. My sarcasm buddy and I actually spent some time discussing the merits of pants wetting, but unfortunately, I took the damn bus and therefore still needed a ride back. No one wants to sit next to the pants wetter. Probably not even if you explain it was on purpose.

STEP THREE: Make Twitter Comments

General comments fare a little better than overly specific ones. My statement of “I’m in hell” got several nice reactions.

Pooka’s Crayon ‏@LargoHaikuNook discussed the financial merits of being in hell, stating, “Get autographs, if you can. They’ll go for a fortune on Ebay.”

Cara ‏@zippy219 was evidently in hell too on that day: ” I don’t see you! Are you sure you’re here? Wave or something so I can see you.”

Hell is a large and crowded place… probably because of all the damned.

Andreas Heinakroon@heinakroon, always the gentleman, offered his condolences, “I’m sorry to hear that. Say hi to Satan from me.”

Debbie ‏@debihen said, “My regards to Beelzebub and his minions.” She also advised me to run if they suddenly started handing out Kool-Aid.

Just be aware that if you make your comments too specific as to the actual activities at hand, it could be a little confusing.

For example, when my sarcasm buddy said, “I’m all for teamwork, but I’m not laying on the ground putting on a weird suit.” I had to Tweet that IMMEDIATELY. You never know if you are going to remember comments later, and this one was GOLD. Unfortunately, while I was right in the middle of typing my tweet, it was suddenly MY turn to drive the damn bike. This is where having a sarcasm buddy really comes in handy. My sarcasm buddy took me by the arm and guided me over to the bicycle/cult-suit-changing area WHILE I typed Twitter statements into my phone. Now THAT is teamwork!

Anyway, my point is that not many people got what I was talking about with the suit.

Gigi ‏@gigirambles inquired, “What the hell kind of team training are you at?!”

Rod Jordan ‏@AIRIGOAGAIN, who never lets the fact he has no idea what I am saying get in the way of offering sage advice, posted, “Just say “There’s no I in team, so I’M not laying on the the ground!”

Granted, I agree my statement was a little confusing. Allow me to explain myself in this next section. It won’t help alleviate any confusion, but at least I can say I tried.

STEP FOUR: Never wear the suit

As part of our team-building efforts, we had to race these bikes we put together, which was already a bad idea because our bike was trailing nuts and bolts and my sarcasm buddy and I were secretly hoping for the wheels and stuff to start flying off. But, the worst part is that the ‘coaches’ made you wear this ridiculous suit when you rode the bike.

Here is my sarcasm buddy holding up the suit.

Most of you probably already know what it is like to feel normal, but I spend most of my life glancing around at people thinking, ‘Are we really going to go for this?’ and then, sure enough, everyone is Zumba-ing the Macarena, or crossing minefields in blindfolds (see next section), or doing some dance where a guy keeps singing at you to go “to the right. To the right.”

When people brought up the idea we would all be changing in and out of this suit, my sarcasm buddy promptly stated, “I have OCD and I am NOT wearing that suit.” OCD is nice to have in a sarcasm buddy, because they are going to freak out at the stuff you are being asked to do way before you even think about objecting. In comparison, you get to seem like you are normal and willing to go along with crap. It is a nice feeling to have another person recognize the insanity well ahead of you.

STEP FIVE: Cheat

After the dancing and the knee touching, the ‘coaches’ made us wear blindfolds** and go through this ‘minefield’ of Frisbees and squeaky toys to get the bike parts. My sarcasm buddy and I decided that we would totally peek through the blindfold while yelling convincing directions like, “to the right. To the right”***, and “at an angle.”

Bear giving directions on how to cross the minefield.

Here is “Bear” (not entirely sure that is his given name) explaining that we are wearing the blindfolds because we are drunk (I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was to be told we would be getting drunk and then being handed a blindfold) and that if you commit a crime when you are drunk it doesn’t count. Seriously, this is something they said. Apparently, being drunk makes you completely unaccountable for your actions. Don’t even get me started on the ramifications of applying this logic in real life.

Note that the minefield consists of Frisbees, mangled pool noodles, and squeaky toys. This is probably how we lost Vietnam.

This is the tire I brought back across the minefield while drunk on blindfolds.

At the end of this exercise, we still had the steering wheel and the brake left across the minefield. Our team was fairly confident we could carry on through the race without these two items, but then Bear just freaking GAVE them to us. Which both pissed me off  and leads us to the most important lesson of teambuilding: “Never let people make you cross minefields in a blindfold for car parts they are going to hand you anyway.”

I know you think you don’t need this shirt, but you do. You should buy three of them.

Remember that. It will serve you well.

Oh… I did forget one last picture.

This was my favorite part of the entire experience.

Side notes:

* You are probably thinking this is kinky shit I am making up, but I am DEAD serious when I tell you that this happened… in real life. I should make a documentary.

**again, I know you think is some kinky shit I am making up, but I cannot reiterate enough how all of this REALLY HAPPENED.

***see… NOW I know what that damn song was all about.

How to Create a Team Building Cheer

I think there must be some website out there offering advice on how you create your own team building training. Every one of these things I have been to makes whatever team you end up in create and perform a cheer. So, if you have to go to a team building, please be aware that you may have to plan and perform a team cheer.

I have been to a lot of team building sessions, so if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of creating a cheer, I can help you with that. Here is a list of limitations for creating a cheer that will both satisfy the requirements of the psychotics making you do it, and get you through the situation gracefully.

  1. No sudden movements. If the instructions for creating the cheer require some sort of movement, keep it to a minimum. You are not winning any awards here. Even if there are awards, they won’t be given out for the cheer. Even if there are awards given out for the cheer, they will be lame.  Any sudden, or repetitive, movements are unacceptable. I will not be high kicking, jumping, or clapping. Just have everyone throw their hands up in the air at the end of the thing. It is something they will probably want to do anyway.
  2. No yelling. Don’t use words like “go” or “team” or “win.” It is really hard for people to pretend that much enthusiasm. I might be willing to chant  something that rhymes. However, I will not be chanting very loud, or energetically, so keep it short so it doesn’t drag.
  3. No singing. Don’t make the cheer to the tune of a song. I am not singing some words you organized in ten minutes to the tune of Jingle Bells. No one can write a clever song in minutes while people are yelling suggestions into the air. It is going to end badly. Case in point, “Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg.” No one even likes this version. It is stupid and was probably written as a team building exercise.

Create any cheer you desire within these guidelines, and you will have my minimal participation. If you create anything outside these boundaries, I will be not be performing. I will be looking away, distracted, until it is over. There are multitudes of things in a room with which I can distract myself, including the Twitter feed on my phone. After you are done, I will look up suddenly, incredibly disappointed to have missed the whole thing.

Better yet, here is a shirt you can wear to your team building.

A lot of problems can be avoided simply by setting the right expectations.

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