Why does team building matter? And how can music improve the experience?
Let’s start with team building. In our many years of experience, we’ve come across our fair share of team building programs, from treasure hunts, to painting murals, to building bridges over imaginary rivers of acid. All were well intentioned, but most felt slightly juvenile and elicited a similar response from participants, “we could be doing better things with our time and money.” So why do companies persist with team building? The real reason is because relationships and trust among employees matter to successful businesses and your bottom line.
When done well, a team building experience will create new relationships and improve understanding between employees, resulting in better performance back in the work place. This translates into a more efficient business model and a more consistent delivery of brand values.
For example, the Managing Partner of one of the world’s leading management consultancies approached SongDivision with a challenge – the partners who ran their various industry units were too busy to talk with each other, resulting in lost business opportunities and 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 world-renowned recording studio, where they wrote and recorded a song about their communication challenges and how they were going to fix them. In the months that followed, the company experienced a revived workplace with newly formed relationships, cross-fertilization between business silos, and the discovery of previously untapped business opportunities leading to higher sales and an improved bottom line.
Music aside, the partners were given an opportunity to break from the routine and politics of their usual work environment, and given a fun, shared challenge that forced interaction and collective problem solving. The experience effectively leveled the playing field and broke down traditional barriers. Partners who had never taken the time to get to know each other were now given an opportunity and subject matter to do so.
So, team building is an investment that delivers real return, but why use music?
The reason most team building programs fail is because they often alienate a large portion of the audience either by being too physical, too arty or simply too cheesy. The appeal of music, however, is universal – we all engage with some form of music. It impacts us regardless of age, gender, culture or rank. It can be experienced indoors or out, acoustic or electric, with small groups or large. So when it comes to team building, music has a universal appeal and a great deal of versatility in terms of how it can be applied.
However, there is certainly an art to using music for team building. In the wrong hands, team building using music can be a cringe-worthy disaster, failing to eliminate participant cynicism, break down barriers, and create meaningful connections among colleagues.
We encounter this cynicism often. When partners from the leading management consultancy firm were told they would be writing and recording a song together, their reaction was, “you’re kidding, I’ve got major deals I need to be working on.” However, our expert facilitators and musicians know how to manage the room and are able to soften this resistance and inspire audiences by creating unique challenges within the experience that make the task feel more relatable and manageable. The partners were tasked to work against a ticking clock, giving them little time to complain, and focusing their efforts on solving the problem together. Before long, their cynicism gave way to laughter, joviality, and collective creativity.
Credibility also goes a long way when eliciting engagement. The experience of our musicians, who have played with everyone from Prince to Adele, additionally helps participants gain confidence and become immersed in the ‘team building’ experience.
When done properly, team building is a worthwhile investment. Team building with music can be even more so by engaging your full team, strengthening bonds, and creating universal understanding of your vision and values to give you a sound return on investment.
Explore team building experiences to unite your company.