Masterclass: Team-building

What is team-building? Where did it come from? And where is it going?

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

What is it? Remove three letters and the word culture becomes cult. The essence of team-building lies in strengthening the former without creating the latter. Most people have to work together in a team of some sort, sooner or later. These teams may be virtual or located in a range of time zones. They may come together only to complete projects or other special tasks. But where there are people, there are teams, and management's job is to help them operate better. That's why so much time and money is spent on different team-building exercises.

Where did it come from? Team-building is a relatively new, quasi-democratic phenomenon. It is based on the idea that individual employees may actually have a mind of their own, and that they need to be encouraged (rather than just told) to work together. Some pretty absurd initiatives have been tried to bring this about - gruesome awaydays and outdoor activities. More prosaic but less politically correct is a trip to the pub. Whatever the method, employees are constantly being urged to 'think team' and co-operate with colleagues, even when it's the last thing they really want to do.

Where is it going? As World Cup frenzy builds, England football manager Fabio Capello faces a delicate challenge. His ex-captain, John Terry, was to have played alongside Wayne Bridge, whose now ex-girlfriend (are you still with us?) had a fling with Terry. This led to Terry's sacking from the captaincy and Bridge's declining to be part of any England team that included Terry - not the sort of scenario experts would normally like. It will be a real test of Capello's (and his players') professionalism. Will they be able to concentrate on the football - or will they be distracted by repercussions from the affair? We'll find out shortly.

Fad quotient (out of 10):
Seven and rising.

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