Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Team building day

By Alesa Dam
My boss is good at organising team building days, not least because she doesn't take them too seriously. Her approach is to find something we can all do, that's off site, that's a bit different and is a bit of fun. Last year we had a drumming workshop, the year before that we did something on creativity, and the year before that we did an art workshop. Each time it's been relaxed and enjoyable with no contrived analogies to work situations - like I said, just a bit of fun. But in my opinion they really work, and I've been wondering why.

Years ago I read a book called The R Factor (looks like it's out of print and funny that you can buy '20 used from £0.01'!). It was written for a very specific audience and I seem to remember it had a rather contrived ending, but the thing I remember most, and thought seemed useful, was what it called the 'dimensions of relational proximity'. They said that the factors influencing the closeness of a relationship (in any context) could be assessed in terms of:
  • directness - the quality of communication
  • continuity - the frequency, regularity and amount of contact, and length of relationship
  • multiplexity - the variety of context of meetings
  • parity - mutual respect and fairness in the relationship
  • commonality - shared goals, values and experience
I think the authors have given fancy names to something that is essentially common sense but I do think that it's a useful framework. The reason I think our team building days have worked in the past is because I think they enable many of these things to take place - certainly multiplexity (we see each other in a different context), parity (everyone's on a level playing field) and commonality (we work on something together to achieve a shared goal).

Well, it's that time of year again and tomorrow we're doing a community project at All Saint's Primary School in Wigston - you can read more about the project in this news article, but in brief Student Development will be:
swapping their pens for shovels to spend the day at All Saints Primary School in Wigston on Wednesday 30th June 2010 to give the school a well deserved garden make-over
which not only should help facilitate the building of relationships in our team, but will also make a valuable contribution to the community: win, win! And probably be a good laugh too: win, win, win!

I'll let you know how we get on...


  1. hope you have lots of fun and take plenty to drink- looks like it's going to be hot tomorrow!

  2. Our volunteering team have it all sorted - I think there are at least 3 people on duty throughout the day whose job is to bring drinks, #cake and sun cream!

  3. [...] blogging about our team building day earlier in the week I’m pleased to be able to report that it was a big success. Here’s [...]

  4. [...] — Used on [...]

  5. Hi - have just bought a copy of this book, interestingly, to share exactly this passage on relational proximity with someone. It's available from
    Cheers, Tim Page