When it comes to teambuilding, every company has its own approach. Some companies, busy solving problems and putting out fires, don’t make teambuilding a top priority. Teambuilding might occur at office holiday party or during a group project, but with everyone focused on getting through the day, it doesn’t happen often.
For other companies, team building is a way of life. It’s a part of their culture and it’s displayed in their motivation, drive, and in their productivity. From staff meetings to brainstorming sessions, teambuilding is in their blood, and it’s a vital part of every process. Every new project, and even every conflict, is an opportunity to build and strengthen the team. And for the very rare company, like Segate Technology who spends $2 million a year to send its employees on a week-long adventure in the mountains of New Zealand, this dedication to teambuilding is, in a word, extreme.
For many great teams, teambuilding is intense. From astronauts to the military, highly dedicated teams know that to get the job done and to be successful, they have to work together. For teams like these, teambuilding is necessary to their survival. Whether or not your daily work is life or death, teambuilding is important to the success and life of your company. It cultivates a cohesive group that’s focused, loyal, engaged, and passionate. It improves productivity. It strengthens every employee. But, if you’re ready to amp up your teambuilding, you don’t have to spend $2 million or a week in New Zealand to do it. Check out these extreme team ideas to tether your team together and reach for the moon.
Extreme Team Building – Astronaut Style
Before embarking on perilous expeditions to outer space, Astronauts spend two to four years in intensive training, including flight and classroom exercises, orbiter simulators, and survival training. To put it mildly, their survival training is extreme. To prepare for every possible landing situation, they spend weeks enduring temperatures far below freezing in Canada’s icy mountain tops or Russia’s wilderness. Together, they float for hours in bodies of water like the Black Sea to test their water survival skills. They’re towed through oceans in a harness to simulate being dragged by a parachute through the wind and water. They struggle through long treks in snowstorms. They work together to construct shelters for protection from the elements, build fires, obtain food and water from existing supplies, and learn how to manage first-aid emergencies.
These challenges don’t just teach the team basic survival skills, they provide insight into the group’s collective natural instincts, character, and ability to handle extreme pressure. The team learns how to work together and how to work with each others’ leadership styles. An experienced astronaut and crew operations manager at the Johnson Space Center, Michael Lopez-Allegria once said, “It’s important for these people to know the extent of their capabilities under extreme conditions. They’re going to have to be able to get along in an isolated environment for long stretches of time. The Space Station and the Space Shuttle might be a bit more comfortable than the wilderness, but in many respects the end result is the same: You’re stuck with these other people, and your survival depends on everyone working together.” You probably won’t go to this extreme with your team, but you can apply this concept to your team. How?
Real Team Building Idea: Have an Adventure
Cube life may not be as isolating as the Space Shuttle, but some days it may seem just as confining for your staff. And, every company’s survival depends on its employees working together. Your team probably doesn’t have the time or the resources to go on a week-long expedition through Russia, but you can use the same training ideas to strengthen the team trust and build unity between your employees.
Take your team on a retreat for the weekend or even just for a day, and have an adventure! Go rock climbing or hiking. Encourage the team to participate in a local fun run together. You could even set up your own exciting survival competition like capture the flag or a group treasure hunt around town or at the office. Challenge your team to get out of their comfort zone, to trust each other, and to have some fun. They’ll develop camaraderie, friendship, and inspiration that will motivate them at work.
Extreme Teambuilding – Military Style
For the U.S. Army, basic training is all about the fundamentals. Soldiers learn the core values of the Army – loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. As a group, the fundamentals are drilled into soldiers daily. They eat, sleep, and breathe them. Together, they learn combat techniques and undergo rigorous and demanding physical training. They learn self-discipline through a strict daily schedule that usually starts at 0500 hours, well before the sun rises. They’re taught to sacrifice, to endure, to overcome. In the army, every job is necessary, every duty vital, and every man important. So, together, they’re pushed to the limits. And, they learn to depend upon each other. They band together and they leave no man behind.
Team Building Idea: Back To Basics Boot Camp
If you want to be an extreme team, you don’t have to become a drill sergeant to do it, but you can make teambuilding a routine part of your work week. Teach your employees the fundamentals and values of your company. Provide them with a solid foundation they can grow on. Give them a career path they can travel. Inspire them to learn more, be more, and do more just like the Army reinforces in its members. Invest in your team, whether it’s allowing them to attend a conference that deals with the fundamentals of their field or trusting them with a new project to accomplish together. By building your team’s skills and confidence, you will motivate them to be all they can be.
Teambuilding shouldn’t be an occasional event. Make time for both planned and organic teambuilding, engaging your co-workers, and inspiring your employees. Dare to make work fun. Brave the unknown. Create adventures, and push boundaries together. Build a strong foundation that unites and inspires your team to fight for greatness. Be extreme in your teambuilding with these realistic ideas, and discover what you can achieve together.