a slightly tedious Team Building question!

Upskilling your team - building their knowledge and confidence and general aptitude for doing their thing.

Do you have any particular tales of glory on this front? I would appreciate all thoughts. At the moment my list says:

1. Tetchily tell them to look it up on PLC; point out you ain't their mother.

2. Terrifying pop quizzes on random topics with the loser being forced to choose between performing a humiliating ritual or being sacked.

Anything better than this pls?

who am I kidding this is very tedious soz

I will probably just get that stupid pie chart out and start clicheing it

Drop them in the middle of Dartmoor and give them a two hour head start, then set ex-special forces guys to tracking them with dogs.  The person who evades capture the longest wins.  


Brilliant team building exercise, and they learn something valuable too:  never give Clergs something menial to do, or you pay for it in blood.

I think this is a chambo answer but the only way to do what your first line says is experience and maybe some regular encouragement. 

The team builds stuff that is useful is more around engaging with each other and [internal] clients. It has its place but it’s not upskilling. Maybe upsoftskilling. 

I may have chambo style missed the point, I concede. 

- create an environment where it is acceptable to ask for help

- give staff more responsibility to make mistakes on their own and learn from them



- amputate fingers if they are still shit

Actually I took them paintballing in Essex somewhere and most of them shot me. One paint splattered Chambers.

If it was white, that wasn't paint, Chambo.  You've been soggy biscuited by your teammates.

interesting point, zg

I think I am looking specifically at technical skills but actually maybe I am not supposed to be! things that will help them to deal better wrangling the techy stuff they already know??


[email protected] dartmoor

see this, phoebs

"- create an environment where it is acceptable to ask for help"

I totally believe in this BUT don't you think it's quite difficult to sort of measure? I mean just by not ranting at them when they do something silly I guess but I feel like it should be capable of scientific rendering somehow.

Basically give people enough rope and make it clear to them that is what they are doing. 

I would tell you the answer but if I did that how will you learn?

So in order to coach you to do it yourself in future, instead of spoon-feeding you the answer every time you ask a question, I'll tediously coax out all the steps you need to take - maybe starting with asking what steps you've already tried to take and what you've learnt from those...

If you don't want a tedious answer, have you considered asking  less tedious questions?

Divide them into groups and give them menial tasks like selling ice to Eskimos or designing a new dildo for over 70s.  Get them to try and flog their wares all around London.  The team that does best is the winner and gets a night out.  The team that does worst should be told they are bad business people.  Repeat until there is one winner and they have a decent job for a year but then get sacked too.  Get Alan Sugar to organize it.

I have had cause to look at this stuff recently and Have Views.  I can even spot coracle’s grow wheel in his post above. 

I like you're style, sorry

maybe one of the winners could join the house of lords tho

I have done an inclusion and diversity piece which I've found to be very good.

Basically you put people into groups of 4-6 and you ask them to each to say (a) what makes them diverse (b) a time they have been excluded and (c) what made them feel included again.

If there's a reasonable amount of trust involved there can be some very interesting answers, challenging stereotypes of what diversity is and opportunities for some vulnerability.  Was certainly very good each time I've participated Clergs.  

Alan, do you leave your balls at home when you go into work each morning?  That sounds like utter fucking hippy bullshit.  What's wrong with some gorge walking and high ropes stuff?

In fact, worse than hippy bullshit, it sounds like HR-enforced joy-terrorism to actively prevent people enjoying team building days.

But to answer Alan's survey (a) having ginger hair (b) being slagged off for having ginger hair (c) when I shagged someone notwithstanding my disability.

Hmm, so my answers would be:


(a) For refusing to participate in hippy bollocks sessions

(b) See (a)

(c) Not forcing your employees to participate in hippy bollocks sessions and sending them clay pigeon shooting instead.

The question is about team building but your post seems more about upskilling? Tbh I don’t really have juniors now as we are a small multidisciplinary team but when I was asked stuff like what you have been asked I would go over to their desk with them and pick up their mouse and put on a silly computer voice and say:


and then they’d laugh and I’d show them ok this is what you can google and this is how you find this answer look here’s an article about the problem you’re having and here’s a solution. Take that solution and change variable names and confirm it works and when it comes to code review I’ll check if you’ve done something dangerous but I doubt it.

I have been described by senior managers in appraisals as ‘unprofessional’ and as ‘clowning about’ but tbh I do the work and I help out juniors in ways that doesn’t make them feel stupid I hope

I appreciate this idea, alan, thanks

mugen - it is more about building an effective team I guess? supporting them to do their job well

Look into Kantor team dynamics.


- is the team clear on what they need to do?

- do they understand why (framing)?

- do you show them how or coach them to find their own way

Practical tips, particularly re upskilling as in a way of working is to share information in team meetings. Share the kind of work you do, how you do it, what should we be doing, what went well and what did not go so well (the last category should mainly come from you if you are the team leader).

You could do that, Tricky, or you could RELEASE THE DOGS, then bring in an business psychologist at the end to comment on team dynamics demonstrated.


(But mostly it's about releasing the dogs)

I am not sure if this works all the time and in all industries but the teams that have worked best for me have been very lighthearted groups of competent people and more than one senior with multiple juniors so no one could ever be a tyrant.

people who want to be tyrants are twats anyway and they kill teams in 6 months to 2 years from what I’ve always seen.

I think just be really good at your job so they respect you. Then you can do what you want professionally. People who are insecure about their competence have to be tyrants because they’re not getting respect. 

Its like those bitter maths teachers in school who when you point out something that is wrong that they’ve written they get all sulky. 

Just don’t be that guy and you can sort of do what you want and everything else is fine. 

My line manager rarely programs these days as he’s senior management and has to meet with directors and other senior managers and basically contribute to meetings in ways about how we can help. But if I’m stuck on something he likes to roll up his sleeves and sit next to me and have me take him through it and sometimes he gets to the answer before I do (he knows the system better - I’m still the better engineer ;) )

I liked the cross departmental team sports at bigger firms in London - cricket down at Dulwich against clients, dragon boat racing, softball etc.  all equally open to women as to men (altho I realise that definition set may need changing to open to all these days.)

I only did paintballing on a corporate gig once and the MP came out so bruised he could have passed for a leopard.

Speaking of which, I attempted a 2.5x roll dive off the top platform at Spectrum today and epically backflopped (went about 2.75x).  Ouchmax.


I got covered in both red and yellow paint from paintballing. Given that I was on the red team there must have been a few traitors lurking.

If you make them do "Who Moved My Cheese?" you will never be asked to organise such an event ever again. 

What kind of dogs?  Well, maybe Pomeranians.



thanls, tricky, I really appreciate this

am now trying to understand the difference between capability and capacity (when within one person)

Only do capability building with people with capacity.

And praise good examples publicly and give out dinner vouchers left right and centre for stuff that went well.

Collect success stories and share, as wide as possible. Make them feel proud. Think of how your team can become the 'leader' in this area or this way of working.

Think about next year's goals already now. Start planning a "Why" for the team, and the "How" with desired behaviours and the "What" for individuals, i.e. what do they need to do. Make it all short and sweet and simple.

YUCK but it works. And it takes at least two years so start managing expectations of the higher ups if necessary.

senior leadership engagement seems like one of the key tips!


God almight why is life so complicated





- Make sure they understand they have asked for big change/job.

- Make sure your why is in line with their why

- Make sure that your goals and the team goals all help their goals (ask them to share their goals/priorities)

- Make sure you engage with them on progress, especially if no progress or no visible progress, to protect yourself and team

But keep it simple. Simple, right?