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why do team building activities usually involve games?

Teambuilding activities are becoming increasingly popular with organizations in singapore. organizations are paying sums of money to consultants to get their staff out of the office to play games with them. so why play games during professional teambuilding activities? will these teambuilding games ultimately benefit the staff or the company?

people are the most valuable assets of any organization. people - humans - have been created with the capacity to achieve beyond boundaries, but, the catch is that not everyone comes close to unleashing their latent potential. why so, you may ask?

oftentimes, mentoring and support is essential for a person to realize his potential. each individual’s ability to learn and change, and to subsequently put more energy into their work, very much stems from how they feel about themselves. an environment where people feel valued and capable is an environment that fosters growth - and is poised for success.

any organization intent on success should be mindful about grooming leaders, nurturing individuals and teambuilding among individuals. every individual must be empowered with skills that would directly influence their job scope, as well as skills that build camaraderie across job scopes.

Singapore Teambuilding -  Professional  Teambuilding Session

playing teambuilding games

in his book 'Understanding How People Learn', author David G Reay explains that learning is in fact a natural phenomenon - something which all animals do to a greater or lesser extent, particularly during their maturing period, but also throughout adulthood.

learning is:

1· continuous
consciously or unconsciously, we are learning new things all the time, be it superficial - like learning it's hot today - or profound - like learning what it means to fall in love!

2· natural
wanting to learn is a natural state of affairs. knowing how to do something is associated with success; not knowing is associated with failure - and no sane person wants to be a failure.

3· closely related to doing things - 'experiential learning'
learning through theory is an acquired skill but experiential learning is a natural skill. take the example of a child trying to force objects into a box with cut-outs of different shapes in the quest to understand spatial relationships. the child makes attempts to match shapes until he understands how it works and successfully completes his 'game'. it is only when you can do something can you actually claim to understand how it is done.

now that we know experiential learning is a natural process, how is it that some people just don't learn? there are several barriers to experiential learning, being:
· lack of motivation
· unsuitable work environment
· inappropriate subject matter
· past experiences
· self image
· inadequate study skills
· poor memory
any combination of the above factors will hinder the experiential learning process and cause resistance to learning.

Singapore Teambuilding -  Experiential Learning Through Teambuilding Games

one ingenious way to overcome these barriers is to introduce and encourage experiential learning through play - the playing of games.

teambuilding games will help us remember

studies show that we remember well when enjoying ourselves. in her book 'The Power of Mindful Learning', Ellen J Langer encourages introducing learning materials through play. the rationale behind it is that people seek novelty in play and have no difficulty paying attention in those situations, because when something is novel, we notice different things about it. in playing games, players look more closely at all aspects of the situation to figure out how to win - to win/overcome is a strong motivating factor. moreover, when playing games, people are relaxed and are therefore less self-conscious and less conscious of past experiences. defences are also down in an informal setting, assuring low or little resistance to the intended learning values.

also, playing games does not require comprehensive study skills or extensive use of memory - at least not for the teambuilding games developed at änergy. thus, anyone in an organization can participate, regardless of educational qualifications, and everyone can benefit from the intended learning points during the teambuilding session.

co-authors of "World Class Training", Kaye Thorne and Alex Machray, state that, "most memorable learning experiences(experiential learning) usually take place in a special environment". the correct choice of location and layout are vital to encourage experiential learning. most of our teambuilding games require out-of-the-norm settings, away from the rigid work stations, structured boardroom tables or classroom/theatre-style arrangements. the different settings would prove to be a refreshing and certainly more interesting change for people. during teambuilding, the informal atmosphere also sets the stage for people to subconsciously reveal traits otherwise concealed during formal settings.

another research by the National Training Laboratory (USA) has also proven that learning by doing (experiential learning) proves to be most effective, next to personal coaching.

Singapore Teambuilding - Learning Through Games


“If we find ways of enjoying our work – blurring the lines between work and play – the gains will be greater.” – Ellen Langer, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

yet another gratification from playing games during teambuilding is the bonds that will be established within teams. when team members strive together to achieve something, the spirit of comradeship is inculcated, and it lingers even after the event. through having fun together, team members also gain more in-depth understanding of each other in a non-threatening environment. this would eventually help in managing differences in personality styles, and adds to the greater cohesiveness within an organization.

What more can we say? in a nutshell, experiential learning through teambuilding games would prove to be more productive, effective, memorable and thus, more worthwhile!

as articulated by a wise man of the old, “What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; but what I do, I understand." – Confucius 451 BC

related team building articles:
team building and team bonding
history of team building
multiple intelligence and team building
o.p.t.i.m.a.l. approach to team building activities

note: the article above was first published on 11 March, 2004, in The Straits Times Recruit Section. the article was contributed by Alvin Quah, a certified behavioral analyst(in business consulting perspectives), who is registered with the Institute for The Motivational Living, Inc, USA. He can be contacted through the website: www.anergyfunengineers.com

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