Teambuilding exercises are supposed to bring your employees together, not drive them apart. Better yet, teambuilding exercises should never involve paintball guns or any other dangerous activity where someone can get hurt and have ill will toward other coworkers. Some employers have tried these risky adventures, and the outcomes are far from building a better team!
During a teambuilding exercise in Iowa, a health food store manager decided it would be a good idea to bring in a piñata filled with dollar coins. The piñata was supposed to represent a rival store, and the employees would work together to smash the competition. The first person up to bat was a middle manager who happened to have a swing that rivaled Babe Ruth. With one hit, he obliterated the piñata and sent dollar coins whizzing through the air. One employee got nailed in the face and countless others ran for cover. After this fiasco, the store was unable to contend with their competitors and eventually closed down.
Another instance of bad teambuilding happened on an open field in Washington, D.C., where paintball seemed like an obvious choice to get employees to work together! The organization was divided into teams of four, and everyone was handed safety gear and a gun. Within minutes, one gun misfired and hit an employee right in the crouch. Eventually the match turned into a battle where employees were screaming at each other, begging not to get hit, and even retaliating against fellow employees. One employee recounts the ride home saying that it was dead silent. Eventually the employees were able to overcome their rage, and heartfelt apologies were quickly exchanged.
One final instance of a teambuilding exercise gone awry involves a boss, his team, and some psychedelic mushrooms. During a retreat in upstate New York, a CEO decided it would be a good idea to pass out hallucinogenic mushrooms to his employees so they could all bond over the experience. The CEO wanted to appear cool and edgy to his 20-something staff, but most of them refused to take the drug. The company closed down a few months later, but the employees who did eat the mushrooms have said they now have a better relationship with their former boss.
When planning your next teambuilding exercise, remember the ones that have failed. Paintballs and piñatas may seem like a good idea, but remember that it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye!