August 31, 2015

Teambuilding is Not Always a Good Thing

Modern project management scholars tend to emphasize the importance of teambuilding. Teambuilding is a term for all activities team members perform outside work.

All meetings they have outside the context of work is thus defined as teambuilding. From evenings spent in tavern to picnics and trips to abroad, these activities are said to enhance the team's performance and are often organized or sponsored by the employer.

One very important thing is that to have a good team it involves participation of all its members in everything that defines a team. It can be both work tasks and teambuilding activities, so basically all team members have to be involved in such meetings.

Teams may have anywhere from five members to beyond 10. Not all of them should have the same affinities. Also needs. There should be people with various disabilities, pregnant women and other. If not  all team members are participating in  teambuilding activities they should become less close to the team members who took part in them.

Marie has worked with a team of fashion designers. It was a new, young team, working together for about a year, but they were really friendly to each other. She was newlywed, and wanted a baby. When she told the team manager that she wants a baby and needs to be off for the next year and a half, she was told that she can return to the team afterwards, since they're very satisfied with her work and her communication with colleagues in the design team.

However, while she was absent, her company made a lot of teambuilding efforts. Members of their team travelled several times, had a lot of parties in the company's premises and good night clubs, which made them feel like best friends since childhood. It also had impact on their work: their designs were more "lively", modern and reflected their new optimism they attained through teambuilding activities. And this was exactly what managers wanted to see.

When Marie was back from her maternity leave, she found a quite different setting in the firm than it was the day she left. Members of her team now seemed much different to her, with lack of common topics to talk about. They didn't change their attitude, but simply became different. Even more shocking to her were their new designs - which seemed strange to her. She was thinking to leave and even sent her resumes to her company's major competitors, hoping she will find a more familiar environment there.

Her manager convinced her to remain with her team, but she required an adaptation  period. It was not adaptation to work which most women experience once they're back from maternity leave. She needed to "learn the new language" of her old organization.

It took her as long as two years to get back in shape to work with her team. During the period of  adaptation she had difficulties in making proper designs and needed to take time to learn some new things. She also had to go to teambuilding activities as she needed to get closer to her colleagues again - and she had to go with her baby. There was no other solution. for her teambuilding was a nightmare.




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