Even some of the old “trust” exercises that have been done for years need to be reassessed. I observed an Ontario team building event that incorporated one of those “death drop” activities that are supposed to create trust. (To my knowledge, this particular activity has never been proven through any kind of research to be effective in achieving team building results, but nonetheless, has been widely used for years.) I watched with foreboding as one-team member became noticeably more agitated as his turn approached.He and I had just had a conversation over the coffee break,sharing both our experiences with recent car crashes. He indicated that he was determined to try everything during this team building day in order to support his team, regardless of any discomfort he felt from his car accident.
Having my own residual effects from a car accident, I strongly suspected his mounting discomfort was related to his concerns about the wisdom of his decision to participant in this particular activity, no matter what. At the last minute, he announced he had an injury which would make the exercise too risky. Immediately, I could sense that he felt he had let his team down, and I was quite sure he returned to work with a negative view of the day. What should have created a bonding experience for him, actually did the opposite.
Two professionals failed this individual on that day …. the facilitator as well as the organization’s client contact. There will always be those that insist we should encourage people to do these kinds of activities in order to overcome self-consciousness and other personal limitations. No! No! No! We, as facilitators, have no right to publicly violate anyone’s dignity in order to meet our agendas.
Granted, we all need to be cognizant of privacy policies within our client organizations, but a few well-chosen questions during the planning stages might have avoided creating the harm caused by this Ontario team event.
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