Once Again, Wacky Games Help To Re-Invent Corporate Culture

from the c'mon,-think-outside-the-box dept

There’s plenty of evidence that remnants of the last bubble have come back in vogue. One of the more disturbing elements may be the return of companies that require their employees to play games, ostensibly to build teamwork and trust. Back in February, 2000, right before the peak of the bubble, E-Trade’s CEO, Christos Cotsakos, was being hailed as a visionary for requiring employees to wear beanie caps, carry around rubber chickens, and stand on chairs. Management gurus declared that they were creating “the company culture of the future”, and fostering a workplace where employees could think outside of the box. The company’s stock eventually crashed, and founder Cotsakos left the company. Again, companies are having their employees play games, the latest involve running around public places, taking pictures, and acting like spies. Some might question the wisdom of acting like spies, in public places, during a period of such concern about terrorism. They may want to consult with officials at Ericsson, who, in 2000, staged the hijacking of a bus carrying company officials. They just wanted to see how they’d react. That didn’t turn out very well. Ultimately, playing games may be a good way to relieve stress, and even improve employee productivity, but couching these games as a way to improve teamwork, dialogue, trust, etc. is just reheating the rubber chickens.

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Comments on “Once Again, Wacky Games Help To Re-Invent Corporate Culture”

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sumeet says:

You are absolutely right. Playing stupid games is not a right way to improve employee productivity.

I think the most effective way would be to motivate the employees in a way that they feel like equal partners in the company’s success and faliure. They should be rewarded and punnished for every right and wrong they do respectively.

dani (user link) says:

wacky games aren't so bad

A lot of the groups I belonged to in college did that sort of thing at the beginning of the year…goofy ice breakers, make teams and plan some crazy building with legos–one group even held a ropes course, individual & group!

The things are actually fun, if you let yourself really get into it. It’s more of a morale builder, which leads to better team-work, trust, etc.

Not such a bad idea for a company who wants to excel; human resources is only a tiny piece of running a successful business though.

EmbitteredCorporateDude says:

No games please

I have no tolerance for the games approach when you could get canned for dissing the wrong guy too far up the org chart. Besides, don’t we play enough (political) games already? It just sound like another excuse to blow excess budget on something that will make a clueless manager look good to the senior management.

Anonymous Coward says:

oh yes they are

there’s a BIG difference between college ice breakers and forcing corporate professional to climb on a ropes course, catch their falling comrades that they’d rather not shake hands with, etc. – fostering teamwork in a professional environment is critical to building an open corporate culture, but playing stupid party games isn’t the answer – obviously I’ve been through it more than once, in my personal experience all it does is alientate the professionals even farther from the jackasses that like that stuff – it’s just another ploy dreamt up by otherwise clueless “management consultants” to try and earn huge fees

TeamBuilder says:

To Game or Not to Game

Corporate games and corporate teambuilding differ in their actual definitions. Corporate games are designed for people to have fun and loosen up. If these are framed in such a way that they are supposed to magically improve the job satisfaction and work ethic of the participants is a huge error on the part of management and/or the consultant.

Teambuilding, however, is ONE legitimate solution to the problem of trying to espouse better teamwork and for the workgroup to learn how to function as a team. You have to be careful about blanket statements claiming that the people who are trying to make an honest living are hacks or vice versa.

Anonymous Coward says:

Would the assholes who can’t play well with others please list the companies they work for so I can avoid them? Part of being a “professional” is adaptability, the ability to deal with less than ideal conditions; unforseen tasks, people you don’t particularly like, things you’d rather not do but are required for some higher purpose (even if that purpose is statisfying your employer). If you can’t loosen up and play a game, why should your employer believe that you’re in any way shape or form creative, flexible, or a team player (i.e. a good employee). And of course the fact that some teammates enjoy it and take value from it is irrelevant since they’re just “jackasses”. Even if it’s just letting employees blow off steam, the reduction of workplace stress represents a major ROI for most workplaces, since health and safety (read: expensive) issues are statistically linked to worker stress.

KindaLikeThatDFenseGuyInFallingDown says:

Don't think so - umm maybe - Still no

Its an excellent way to spend a few pingin, pennies or cent and give lie to the illusion that we are all in same boat.

The only way that actually makes people part of the company is to give them a stake. Sweat equity is what counts some reward for your part in developing the success of the company.

Silly games signal someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. These are normally organised by HR types who are running interference for some gross inequity.

Teambuilder says:

Re: Don't think so - umm maybe - Still no

Once again, the point is being missed and blanket statements are being made.

A lot of you seem to have doubts about teambuilding exercises. I do agree that a lot of the time they are used “to pull the wool over your eyes” and mask some kind of major plot to kill off the workforce. However, when done correctly and often the ROI is a general reduction in stress, higher group cohesion, and a friendlier workplace. If you are too embittered or cynical to participate then at least try not to drag down the rest of the company with you. As far as their effectiveness after the day is done, research has shown that when companies put them on once in a blue moon to fulfill some kind of HR performance requirement then the behavior does not stick, but if it is built into the corporate culture and done frequently on smaller scales it has been proven to reinforce a good thing.

bryan bennett (user link) says:

Re: Re: Don't think so - umm maybe - Still no

I agree that teambuilding exercises can be beneficial to easing stress and making for a fun and enjoyable work environment. However, I think that can be done better by sponsoring offsite events rather than ropes courses and other goofy games. Sponsoring outings is a great way to get people out of the office and interacting as people rather than solely as coworkers.

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