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.

About lgalaviz
All of this hardly seems necessary.

24 Responses to How to Survive Team-building

  1. debihen says:

    Oh. My. HECK. Next time they send you to something like this I suggest that you disregard my previous advice and DRINK THE DANG KOOLAID.

    I liked your ceiling carpet pictures. Reminded me of the Disney Airport Shuttle Buses. Next time you have to get on a bus refuse unless it says “The Magic Kingdom” on the front. Trust me on this.

    • lgalaviz says:

      I’ll keep that in mind for the bus. Also, if I ever start my own cult that involves bus travel, I will be sure the bus is imprinted with “The Magic Kingdom.” I just won’t tell people that is the name of the cult.

      Also, what flavor of Kool-Aid do you prefer?

  2. Oh! The horror! The HORROR!

    Why is it so that, even when busy going through the motions of the group building exercises, one can so easily see through what they’re trying to achieve? Most of the exercises display the imagination of a slightly retarded sheep, like: “Oh! I know! Let’s have them GUIDING each other across some obstacle course! BUT! They will be BLIND FOLDED! That will build team TRUST!”.

    *sigh*

    If they’re going to torture you with group building activities, the least you could expect is for them to make it slightly interesting. Really. It’s all down to common decency.

    • lgalaviz says:

      I left out the part where they ALWAYS make you do a team cheer. I think there must be a website somewhere on how to create teambuilding. My goal is to one day find that website and burn it.

  3. Gigi says:

    Lucky for me my company doesn’t believe in team building. Thank God.

    • lgalaviz says:

      I’m going to go into the teambuilding business. Only, in MY teambuilding, we will build actual teams. I’ll have a bunch of rugby players or something that you can choose from. Not sure what we will have them doing…. there are a few details I haven’t sorted out yet.

  4. Honestly? It sounds like more fun than what I have to do on an average day at work. I know, I need to find another job.

  5. Rich Crete says:

    The biggest thing that amazes me is that companies continue to pay for this inane psychobabble nonsense that has never and will never do anything other than break monotony. Any CEO who thinks these team builders are just what he needs to increase morale shows how truly out of touch they are with their employees.
    Sorry. A little bitter. I’m still not over living the corporate life and that ended 6 years ago. Shudders.
    I think the “coaches” have wagers to see which of them can create the most ridiculous activity and still get paid. Have you done the one where the first person takes a bite of a shit sandwich, chews it for 3 seconds then mouth passes it to the next team member etc. etc. then the 10th team member has to identify what type of sandwich it was?
    Did I mention I’m a little bitter?

    • lgalaviz says:

      I think you are actually more pissed off about this than I was!

      I had thought the sandwiches at this thing were quite good. Now I am beginning to reconsider.

  6. zippy219 says:

    Give me a little heads up for the next team building activity and I’ll send Phlegmy. She can be you and you can stay home. Phlegmy is lonely and would love new people to offend and annoy…err make friends with.

    Glad you made it out alive. I never did see you in hell. Next time check by the margarita machine, you’ll most likely find me there.

    • lgalaviz says:

      Is it possible that the phlegm is causing Phlegmy to reach out to others in order to propagate itself? It could be parasitic alien phlegm and not just regular phlegm. Please watch out for that. I would hate to see you end up in a SciFi movie.

      • zippy219 says:

        Shit. Of course you would say this after I spent most of yesterday on her computer because mine was on the fritz. I used a lot of hand sanitzer but I’m still scared. I’m sure regular phlegm is not afraid of hand santizer.

        I think I feel warm? Yes, I’m warm and I can feel the mutant phlegm multiplying in the back of my throat. *cough cough* Yep, this is if for me. I’m a

  7. Your office does a lot of team building. Are you all fighting, like, a lot of the time, so they feel like you need to be taught how not to do that? It’s perplexing.

    I’m VERY GOOD at leading people through those obstacle courses. I can’t walk through one to save my life because if I’m blindfolded I get all dizzy but I’m EXCELLENT at talking someone through one. We used to have to do that in my theater classes a lot, to learn to trust our scene partners. I never trusted my scene partners, but I certainly got them through the obstacle courses the fastest and best, because I WIN.

    • lgalaviz says:

      We don’t fight all the time. However, it might have something to do with the fact that we all scurry to remote hidden away places and never come out to talk to each other or even eat. Apparently, you are supposed to come out and speak to people once in a while. Thus, twice a year we are dragged away, blindfolded, and made to run obstacle courses.

      I bet if I had you to guide me through an obstacle course, I wouldn’t even have to cheat! You are the best!

  8. DogsDontPurr says:

    Where’s HR and OSHA when you need them?!

    Actually, now that I think about it, there are so many potential “workplace safety violations” and sexual harassment issues (knee touching?)….you could probably take them to court and never have to work again. This was not a team building fiasco, it’s a money making opportunity!!

  9. jbrown3079 says:

    Getting directions from a guy named “Bear” in a referee shirt is cruel and inhumane treatment. I bet he had a whistle.
    Having a sarcasm buddy is a great idea. That shows true survival skills.

  10. Rich Crete says:

    Can I take a moment to address this “behind the knee” business? How did that term become a body part? Certainly leg pit is more accurate. Does Jethro Gibbs smack Tony behind his nose? If you encourage someone are your giving him a pat behind the chest?

    • lgalaviz says:

      I concede your point. Allow me to reiterate how much I do not appreciate being touched by random people on my knee pit. No one EVER do that. Thanks.

      • Mano says:

        I think that would make for a better t-shirt too… “Kindly keep your finger off my knee pit”, has a nice ring to it.

  11. Roxie says:

    I would have screamed in pain if someone touched my knee cavity. Then pretended I was too damaged to participate in the rest of the exercise!

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