I am your team building corporate motivation guru
Words | CEO Wendell Stamps
If there’s one thing absolutely guaranteed to remind you that you’re nothing but an expendable office drone, it’s that dismal moment when senior management decide to wring a little more productivity from their employees by subjecting them to a team-building exercise.
Even if you aren’t bullied into attending on a weekend, you’ll crawl at least 7.4 hours closer to death with a micro-managed session of crude psychology, tedious role-play and ten minutes wearing a blindfold whilst some utter bastard from accounts shepherds you round an assault course like a crap version of Knightmare.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel more inclined to double my unpaid overtime for the next quarter when I learn that the people with private toilets in their offices have set aside funding for myself and my colleagues to dissolve our repressed mutual loathing with an away-day exercise designed by the type of corporate sociopaths who brought you toilet break time-recording, motivational posters and Who Moved My Cheese?
Throw it against the wall and see what sticks
The problem with these activities is that they are dreamed up by a class of people who view your “team” in much the same way that the Japanese viewed prisoners of war: interchangeable pack animals to be sucked dry in the thankless services of greater minds, before being garrotted at sunrise and fed to the pigs. Nobody feels better about minimum-wage drudgery because they helped win a game of Cranium and got half a free pizza at the end, and you certainly don’t bond with co-workers who took a solitary day off from plotting your downfall just to cheer you on in a Frisbee relay.
Managers everywhere could learn a thing or two by basing their team-building exercises on some situations where people genuinely have bonded as a group, so I’d like to pitch a few carefully managed scenarios that will really help the little people refocus on the deliverables and make those numbers before the next stock report comes through!
Bosses: if you like what you see, my fees are very reasonable, catering is outsourced to the prison cafeteria and your money gets you some very detailed reports on who to fire because they didn’t give it 100% in the Dragon Boat racing. I know you’d like to avoid all the employment tribunals that you aren’t able to pay off, so contact my legal department first and we’ll pack the waiver forms with so much small print that we’ll get away with war crimes if you think it will get them at their desks earlier on a Monday.
#1) Wilderness survival adventure!
Nothing brings a group of people closer together than deciding which sick or injured member of their party they must kill and eat to survive in the barren slopes of a rocky mountain range.
Your team will be absolutely thrilled to learn that they’re being flown to a ski lodge on the company’s chequebook, and you can consider these thrills increased 110% as they contemplate mortality in a burning aluminium coffin hurtling madly towards the ground.
When the naked terror of the initial descent and collision begins to fade, participants will have to draw on diverse skillsets to pull each other from the burning wreckage, erect crude shelters and blue-sky the realisation that there’s no god-damn food on these freezing rocks!
This event will incentivise your workforce to unlock the core proficiencies necessary to leverage survival skills in any hostile environment, be it the tough post-recession market or a snow-blasted graveyard on the roof of the world.
We believe that you will be amazed to see how this scenario nurtures skills of persuasiveness, quick-thinking and negotiation; as each individual strives to avoid being the next person clubbed unconscious with a fire extinguisher, butchered by committee and roasted over a pile of burning seat rests.
#2) White water; white knuckle!
Forget golf and brothels, for a small team of goal-oriented middle managers there’s no better way to gel than a challenging canoe trip down one of the many rivers of the scenic American south.
Proactive problem-solvers will excel when they master the strongest of physical and mental challenges of backwoods Georgia. They’ll ride the white water of the river basin, growing both as individuals and as a team, especially when they pull together to cover up the murder of the creepy mountain men responsible for the dehumanising anal violation of one of their party.
Once they’ve completed this once-in-a-lifetime training opportunity, there’s no project that your team won’t be able to action for ‘deliverance’. They may be balls to the wall at crunch time, but one whisper of “squeal piggy” and your people will remember that they can overcome any obstacle, no matter how painful and humiliating.
#3) Learn to be a super supervisor!
All successful managers know that a little healthy competition amongst employees is a guaranteed win-win, but it isn’t always so easy to foster that key environment of resentment, bullying and favouritism that really gives productivity a sustained lift.
Our event planners drew on the landmark psychological study known as the Stanford Prison Experiment to create an exercise that will help your staff silently internalise company values, grow into thoughtless accomplices and bury any moral scruples in a shallow grave of mutual denial.
All we need is a two team split, with one group assigned the role of guards and the other group really ready to think outside the box, because they’ll be the prisoners in our simulated corporate gulag!
Team A will explore the ways in which casual brutality and the corrupting effects of power can enable them to avoid any responsibility for their actions, whilst Team B are swiftly reduced to nothing more than numbers, passive untermenschen subject to the every whim of their sadistic captors.
You’ll be amazed how quickly inconvenient qualities such as compassion and kindness can be discarded on the blinkered descent into a violent, amoral cesspool; an environment in which the violation of every principal of human decency is excused via unthinking subservience to the needs of authority. Remember, “we were just following orders” is the motto of a truly loyal workforce.
#4) Going Forward Through The Doors Of Perception!
Sometimes, the only way to really unleash the inner creativity of your people is to set them free from the restrictions, rules and hierarchies that will inevitably stratify in any modern workplace. However, to actually treat your employees like thinking beings might weaken your absolute grip over their every conscious moment, so we’ve devised a unique brainstorming session that will really show your organisation what a paradigm shift is.
Over the course of several hours, employees attending our secure conference venue will gradually shed their inhibitions, their clothes and eventually their sanity as they fall under the influence of the colossal doses of psychedelic chemicals that our trainers have used to spike the free buffet and the contents of the coffee urn.
Our chemists are all veterans of distinguished military mind-control programs, and can provide a bespoke mixture of LSD-25, mescaline and the powerful Andean spirit vine ayahuasca. Over 12 to 14 hours, your horrified workforce will confront their greatest fears as one, see colleagues reflected in the shattered mirror of reality and stumble through a darkened forest of madness into the healing light of a new day.
We will provide the necessary chemicals, programme subliminal suggestions to your exact criteria and have a crew on hand to launder the inevitable piles of urine and vomit stained clothing. Each employee will receive a certificate of participation, free of charge!
#5) Drilling Down (into the basement)!
Don’t panic, when we talk about Stockholm Syndrome we’re not talking about any fancy Scandinavian notions of paid paternity leave, regulated working hours or a society founded on notions of fairness and respect. Instead, we’ll strengthen your relationship with your workforce via the application of a principle that sees the powerless victims of abuse develop a slavish emotional attachment to the sadistic figure that controls every condition of their existence.
After eighteen months as a hostage in our dingy subterranean prison, even the most difficult employee will crawl towards your presence like a beaten puppy, desperate for the slightest approval from the god-like presence that can turn this air supply off any time you open your smart mouth.
Speak to us about our themed kidnapping events: inject a spicy Latin flavour by having your employees shackled in the jungle hideout of violent Colombian narco-terrorists, or perhaps you’d prefer the smooth continental sophistication offered by the basement dungeon of a moustachioed Austrian paedophile.
Whatever prison you choose, get ready to progress into a golden era of efficiency with a team that’s 100% focused on your every command, be it compiling stock reports, auditing processes or putting that lotion in the f*%*ing basket.