Music Team Building
Why is team building important? Why choose team building with music?
Let's start with the team building. In my nine years at IBM I experienced a whole array of team building programs, from treasure hunts to painting murals and building bridges over imaginary rivers of acid. All were well meaning, but most felt slightly juvenile and elicited the response "we could be doing better things with our time and money" from the majority of participants. So why do companies persist with team building?
When done well, a team building experience will create new relationships and improved understanding between employees, resulting in better performance back in the work place. It should improve the bottom line.
For example, the Managing Partner of one of the world's leading management consultancies came to us at SongDivision with a problem. The partners who ran the various industry units were too busy to talk with each other, resulting in lost business opportunities and hence lost revenue. The partner for the Banking & Finance division wasn't talking with her Travel & Transport counterpart, Pharma wasn't talking to FMCG and so on. So, we took the twenty partners into a famous recording studio, where they wrote and recorded a song about their communication challenges and how they were going to fix them.
The partners were taken out of their regular work place environment (with all the routine and politics that goes with it) and given a fun, shared challenge that forced interaction and collective problem solving. What started as casual conversations about Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen between partners who'd never had the time to get to know each other, resulted in new relationships back in the workplace, cross fertilization between the business silos, the discovery of previously untapped business opportunities and yes, an improved bottom line.
So, team building is an investment that can and should deliver a real return.
Which leads us to the next question - why choose team building with music?
The reason why most of the team building programs I experienced at IBM didn't work was because they often alienated large portions of the audience by being too physical, too arty or too cheesy. The appeal of music, however, is universal, regardless of age, gender, culture or rank. It can be experienced indoors or out, acoustic or electric, with small groups or large. So out of any of the team building formats, music has the widest appeal in terms of demography, and is the most versatile in the way it can be used.
That doesn't mean it can't be cheesy. In the wrong hands, music team building is going to be a cringe-worthy disaster, like an episode of The Office. Too many team building events I've experienced have been like this, failing to eliminate the participants cynicism so that you never really get to the stage where you connect with your colleagues in a meaningful way.
In the case of the partners from the leading management consultancy firm, their immediate reaction when they were told they were going to write and record a song together was "you're kidding, I've got major deals I need to be working on." But such thoughts of resistance quickly disappeared as there were assigned unique, challenging tasks they had to complete against a ticking clock. Like all good team building processes, they didn't have time to complain, they only had time to work together to solve a problem.
The fact that their facilitators were session musicians who'd played with everyone from Prince to Adele also made them forget very quickly that this was a 'team building' experience.
Within a few minutes, teams were solving challenges together, resulting in increased confidence and enjoyment of the process. After just three hours, they'd achieved something together they previously didn't think was possible - they'd written and recorded their own original song. More importantly, they'd created new relationships and strengthened existing ones that would result in better communication and the discovery of new business opportunities back in the workplace, and in turn, a bigger bottom line.
Team building is a great investment when done properly. Team building with music, if it's done well, is going to engage more of your team and result in an even better return on that investment.
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