Chris Aukland is the managing director of specialist recruitment agency Ambition and is responsible for the growth and management of the Hong Kong business. He has 15 years’ consulting experience in the UK and Asia.
Team building is more than a chore
My company has organised a team-building day at the beach, which will doubtless involve juvenile games and running around giggling. As a senior member of staff, I feel I’m within my rights to refuse to attend as I can’t afford to waste a work day. I asked my boss if I could be excused, but he says it is compulsory. I don’t want to play silly games and am seriously considering calling in sick. Are these things really compulsory?
Companies use off-site days and team-building activities to allow teams and colleagues to build rapport. This is a very important part of building a company culture, a strong team dynamic and a strong employer value proposition (EVP).
While no employer can force you to participate in such activities, non-participation and a negative attitude can adversely affect how you are perceived by senior management.
Company culture and EVPs are mostly built through demonstrated efforts from management and usually flow downwards to be felt throughout an organisation. As a senior member of staff, it would be good to take part in activities that promote a positive culture and cohesion.
While it might seem tiresome, the benefits of this will be felt in the longer run and would definitely put you in a more positive light with employees.
Superiors who distance themselves from their subordinates usually tend to have a weak working relationship due to a lack of understanding.
Look at the team-building day with a more positive mindset. Hong Kong is a fast-paced and highly stressful environment; the day out is a good chance for you to interact with colleagues away from the office.
You might learn things about each other that you never know or even may prove helpful at the workplace, such as personality or characteristics of individuals.
Additionally, being positive in this situation could also mean taking a more pro-active approach. If you feel that certain activities are silly or childish, ask to have a look at the day’s programme or activity sheet. Suggest alternative items that you think would be more beneficial to the day for management’s consideration.
This will help present your case in a more positive manner and at the same time, you might reach a suitable arrangement where you get to participate in activities that are more meaningful and are more productive to you.
On the work front, you could explain or come to an arrangement with your boss to adjust expectations on delivery and timelines for work due in lieu of the team-building day.
Ultimately, while you can always try to calmly explain to your boss the reasons why you don’t want to participate as being work-related, my final suggestion would still be to approach the day with a positive mindset and learn to enjoy it – after all, no man is an island and it’s time you don’t need to be in the office!
Christopher Aukland has 11 years of recruitment experience in both the UK and Asia, and is regional director of Michael Page in Hong Kong. Michael Page is part of PageGroup, one of the world’s leading recruitment companies operating in more than 153 offices in over 34 countries worldwide