The Asylum Paintball Guide to: Team Building

You’ll often see paintball websites and promotions talk about paintball as a team building tool.  But what  do they really mean?  Speaking as someone who has years in  the executive development, training & paintball industries – not much.  Paintball by itself, without context (as is often advertised) isn’t really team building… 

That said, paintball used properly can be a really great tool for team building. So lets look at what you can do to make that work outing with the crew a much more useful use of the company budget!

What is team building, really?
To be perfectly honest, when most kiwi employees think team building, they think social clubs, after work drinks and weekend activities to get to know each other.  When service providers (i.e. 99% of paintball fields) think team building, they think of extra revenue from corporates, and when HR and (good) management thinks team building they have another idea entirely.  

So what is team building really?  Its part of organisational development, and not to be confused with team recreation. Effective team building should improve personal development, leadership, communications and team problem solving abilities. In When Teams Work Best 5 dynamics are fundamental to team success:

  1. The team member: Successful teams are made up of a collection of effective individuals. These are people who are experienced, have problem solving ability, are open to addressing the problem, and are action oriented.
  2. Team relationships: For a team to be successful the members of the team must be able to give and receive feedback.
  3. Team problem solving: An effective team depends on how focused and clear the goal of the team is. A relaxed, comfortable and accepting environment and finally, open and honest communication are required.
  4. Team leadership: Effective team leadership depends on leadership competencies. A competent leader is: focused on the goal, ensures a collaborative climate, builds confidence of team members, sets priorities, demonstrates sufficient “know-how” and manages performance through feedback.
  5. Organisational environment: The climate and culture of the organisation must be conducive to team behaviour. Competitiveness should be discouraged and uniformity should be encouraged – this will eliminate conflict and discord among team members.

Paintball can be great for training teams on all 5 of these dynamics.  There are roles for individuals team members, exercises to test team relationships, missions for problem solving, a requirement for leadership and an environment (the game) which requires a cohesive organisational environment to win.  Those who are unable to participate directly due to illness or injury might be able to coach from the sidelines as well.  That said, just playing paintball by itself isn’t team building, unless:

  • There are clear and specific business objectives.
  • The CEO or another senior executive team drives the initiative.
  • The CEO or another senior executive sets the context.
  • There is a facilitated business simulation or some type of shared team experience which may or may not include recreational components. (In some instances such as teams experiencing a lot of conflict, recreation would be inappropriate.)
  • There are often brainstorming and problem solving exercises.
  • Team Projects are a fabulous vehicle for linking team building to the real business world.
  • There is a debriefing to uncover how team building relates to business
  • There are business applications exercises to apply what has been learned to the organisation’s specific business opportunities, issues or challenges.

How can you make paintball team building work for you? Start by focusing on these key issues: 

Ownership of the event:
Who is paying for the event?  If its the company social club, its recreation, not team building.  If it is HR or management the event is team building and should be treated as such. 

Management Involvement:
Get the boss, or at least line managers involved.  In order to have genuine team building you really need to have managers and leaders involved at all levels of the team building exercise.  Have senior HR or training staff come out to attend the event.  Even better get a trainer or company psychologist out to debrief properly! 

Key Objectives:
Set out some key objectives for the day, identify areas that need improvement such as: discipline, communications, teamwork, leadership, self confidence, achieving objectives, strategic or tactical thinking.

Assessment & Feedback:
Without a proper debriefing, i.e. Assessment and Feedback, most of the hard work is lost.  Make sure you have clearly defined goals of your team building and assess individual and team efforts against these.  Give clear feedback to your team as to what they did well, and what they can improve on between games, and link their behaviour back to the workplace.

Application to Business:
Apply the activity to the business, explain why you are playing paintball, how are the games relevant to your industry.  Why is communication important? Who needs to communicate? etc  

Don’t just book a game with any old paintball company and expect great team building results, instead, build it into your HR or training strategy, and above all, let us know well in advance.  We are flexible to our customers requirements and have loads of experience in both the paintball and corporate worlds.  We will work closely with your management and HR/training teams to take paintball from being a simple game or recreational outing to proper team building that you can link to your companies training objectives. We also have clean, dry meeting rooms that can be used for pre or post game training, a big screen TV that can be used for presentation, the ability to arrange catering and much much more – to allow paintball to be used as a real, corporate team building tool.

Contact us now on 09 277 0075 or email to discuss with our team how we can make your next team building experience an Asylum one.