When we talk about team-building we tend to think about formal teams or work groups. I’d like to suggest that what you can learn about teams works just as well at happy hours and with other informal, but work-related, groups. The traits we display positively or negatively in a work group are often also evident in a social gathering. And informal gatherings can be important to how you are viewed professionally. It’s where you can prove your communication and negotiation skills. It’s also where you can easily embarrass yourself or be missing out on valuable information. These types of gatherings have been referred to by some as “visiting the branch office.”
Consider what we know about different personality traits as you might find through using an Everything DiSC assessment. The easiest is the introversion/extroversion scale. As an introvert, I have to remind myself that social activities, even a basketball pool, can be a way of proving my connection to and support of my working group. An S might join in cheerfully, while I, as a C, have to examine the reasons why I’d participate, such as discovering details about a new project or getting face time with the boss.
If I was a strong I or S, I might happily participate in any event. (I might even make the mistake of singing karaoke.) It’s likely that I’d frequently be invited to such things and might even be the one behind the scenes suggesting or organizing it. But I might not concern myself with the more visible details and lose an opportunity to show that I can make decisions and persuade others. My leadership contributions might not be evident unless I make them so.
If I was a stronger D, I might try to turn social events into competitions. Or I might insist that happy hour is always at my favorite bar and thus alienate team members.
My co-workers might have different priorities or goals for these social events, so I need to determine what will work for me and meeting my own goals.
Every group has its own culture. It’s useful to know what it is. How comfortable you feel in a group might be partially explained by its culture in the office and outside of it. A C-culture, for example, might never even consider going out to celebrate someone’s promotion. A D-group might leave some members feeling burnt out or attacked. Each type of group has its strengths and challenges, but we don’t often look at them as a group, especially an informal group. But we should.
Here are previous posts which give more information about group cultures.