‘Don’t think about it, just jump!”
I was standing on a platform, 75 feet high. I was supposed to jump off, and hit a bell hanging about 10 feet away. What would keep me suspended? Nothing fancy, just a couple of my teammates who were acting as counter-weights, sitting on the ground below.
This was part of an outbound training weekend that our company had organized for us trainees to learn a thing or two about teamwork.
“Stop thinking and jump bro, we’re losing time!”
Up until then, I never considered myself as someone who is afraid of heights. Yet here I was, going off on an Eminem tangent- palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy…you get the point. I took a power stance like one of my teammates had told me to, and finally, jumped.
Missed it by more than 5 feet.
Climbed back to the top and had another go. This time, I saw nothing but the bell, full Arjuna style. In a few seconds, there was a loud clang. My teammates began cheering as I came gliding down. A friend took me by the arm and excitedly told me how cool the air-borne pictures he took of me looked.
We had several such other activities. By the end of it all, we were dirty, sweaty and exhausted. All twenty-five of us sat down to eat in a huge circle. I was eating gulab-jamuns off of the plate of a guy I’d never even spoken to until then!
The next day we had a session where each of us would take a seat while everybody else, would speak about the person. Two days ago, I would have highly censored my words for such a task. But at this point, we were all so open to accepting and giving feedback. We were talking about what we love, what makes us want to blow the person’s head off, and laughing about it, in the end.
Why Outbound training is all the rage
Agreed, we weren’t a group of complete strangers. On paper, we had been training together for a month. But that involved presentations and lecturers talking about teamwork and interdependence. But this had been a completely different experience. One in which teamwork was the only way out.
Crazy? Impossible? Not really!
Lots of companies and managers are hopping on to the experiential training wagon. Presentations are great, but the problem is they tend to have very less recall value. Hardly will a team go back and religiously share notes on how they could improve their behavior and performance.
More importantly, presentations tend to get monotonous.
No offense to those who spend time making it, I’ve been there too. But it’s time for a reality check. Employees only listen to them because they have to. Not because they want to.
Necessity is the mother of invention
So when the learning curve hits a plateau, what do you do?
Enter adventure-based, outbound training. When you put your tie-wearing employees in a situation where crossing a river is their only way to survive, they will learn to make a bridge out of it. Those tasks might not seem relevant to a corporate structure, but they force the participants to think together and think out of the box.
They bring natural leaders to the forefront and develop confidence and communication skills in people who previously thought they lacked in them.
Take it from someone who was super-apprehensive about the whole thing before trying it. And who came out a different person after just two days of team building activities. Right there, I felt like a team-player and problem-solver. Even learned a bit of Bengali to communicate in code language with my team, the majority of whom spoke the language!
Up for it? Check us out
Developing a training and development module is, according to me, a matter of trial and error. Even after uncountable attempts though, there is never a one-size-fits-all formula. Which is why corporate training setups provide a number of varied activities to test out and hone different skills of trainees.
Regardless of the impact it has, outbound training is something every team should give the benefit of doubt to and try out least a few times.
If you’re up for it, here are a few adventures you can take your team to, in your city. The organizers are highly dedicated, and the packages are reasonably priced. Most importantly, we tie up only with experienced trainers who know what needs to be done and how to achieve it! There is an organized flow to it- the experience, followed by reflection, discussion, and analysis.
But we don’t have to tell you that! You can see for yourself!