Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Team Building for Wide Age Range Groups

One of the most challenging characteristics of a group when it comes to selecting an appropriate team building activity is if it has a wide age range within it. A wide age range is almost certainly going to mean that you will have a very diverse group in all sorts of ways.

The most obvious of these is that you will also have a wide range when it comes to physical ability and indeed willingness to engage in anything that is physically demanding in any way.

The youngsters in the team are likely to be up for anything that involves them breaking into sweat while the older members of the group will probably be dreading the day just in case they will be expected to run about a lot. They'll be thinking that they might as well be asked to leap tall buildings at a single bound.

However, physical differences will not be the only issue. A wide age range is also very likely to mean that the group will have a huge gap in general knowledge. Older colleagues will likely know facts and figures about things that their younger counterparts have never even heard of.

They may also have many practical skills that were once taught to children, either at school or at home, that seem to have fallen by the wayside these days. On the other hand, younger members are more likely to be up to date with current trends, fads, music and the like.

Keeping everyone happy with such differences within the team can, as noted right at the start of this article, can be a challenge. However, the challenge is one that all "proper" team building options should cater for already. Why do I say that? It's all to do with what makes a team effective in the first place.

The highest performing teams are those that manage somehow to turn the differences within them into their biggest strengths.

For example, if a team has someone within it who is good at painstaking attention to detail (with the danger of taking too long) and another who prefers to get things done in the fastest possible time (with the danger of not being done as well as it could be), then one possible outcome of this from the team's point of view is a big argument between the two.

A much better outcome though is where those two individual characteristics are combined so that the job gets done both quickly and to a satisfactory standard.

So if developing a team is at least in part about putting in place mechanisms and processes that help the individual differences that exist within the team members become team strengths then good team building activities should help facilitate that kind of development.

That is true whether the team tackling the activity is comprised of near identical individuals or is instead a widely varying collection of people.

So the answer to the challenge is really quite straightforward. If you want real team development from the time that you choose to invest in team building activities, then keeping that at the forefront of your mind in narrowing down the options should automatically mean that it will cope with a wide age range in the group.

Anything that will not do so easily will probably be less developmental and more purely about fun for one section of your group. Developmental, however, is not the opposite of fun. Most options that you will be able to find will be designed to offer the participants a lot of fun as well as offer the team a real boost in its attempts to become ever more effective.

By : Alan_Hunt

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