2 April 2010

It amazes me how few businesses treat their staff to team building events.

I remember as a smaller business we started to struggle to run events as the numbers were increasing and hotel bills and training fees were mounting.

In the end, we brought our own training centre, that’s how seriously we took it, even back then.

And now, a few years on, the difference between our tight knit culture and most businesses is evident, as soon as you walk through the door or pick up the phone.

That phrase “think outside the box!” is a telling one but how many business owners and managers are guilty of staying in their box to do all their thinking.

This week sees me heading off to Snowdon. There is a group of new recruits going through their paces at Castell Cidwm our dedicated team building training centre in Snowdonia National Park and I have decided to gate crash it.

Jonathan (my mad as a hatter Director of Communications) and I have arranged for an interview, on a ridge adjacent to the summit of Snowdon. To cap it all off I have agreed to stay the night camping on the ridge, which is currently covered in deep snow and prone to 90 mph winds.

Who am I to say NO!  I can see this getting me into trouble!

So why team building? Its expensive, you are taking people out of the business, its more often than not cold, it’s always wet, what do we gain?

We gain an insight to the individuals who participate.

We take them outside their comfort zone, and throughout the days as the pressure mounts you see people’s true colours. Who contributes with the washing up? Who gets up first? Who is fun? Who avoids work? All these answers are invaluable.

Quite often, people come down to Wales and they never make it back to work at UKFast. When someone does not have the necessary credentials we require for them to fit in, contribute and have a great time under pressure, they really wont enjoy the fast paced life ahead at UKFast.

I also believe we do some of our best thinking in the mountains. When you are away with colleagues, you are able to bond in a different way, especially if you genuinely want to get to know them. I think if you put on an event and only show up for the press photo or don’t show up at all, I think you will get the result you deserve. You have to passionately care about your team if you want them truly to develop.

On the flip side of the coin, I know plenty of businesses which do incredibly well with out the significant investment of team building. There is many an accountant who can put up a firm argument that the expense cannot be proved to transfer on to the bottom line. It’s sadly true. How do you quantify the benefit of a weekend away with colleagues?

All I can say is it seems to work for us at UKFast. We do put people high on the agenda and the results the team bring home for us are amazing. I am sure there are many ways we could make more money at UKFast but if they involve inhibiting the investment in people and dampening the culture, then no way!

Mind you saying that, I wonder if I will be saying the same tonight on the top of Snowdon, bedding down for the night. When you are having your cup of Coco spare a thought for me.

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