Bowling: A Striking Success For Team-Building

Stop in at Channelside’s Splitsville some evening — preferably Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday – between, say, 5 and 8 p.m. And sure enough, there they are: the after-work, Happy Hour crowd winding down over gourmet pizza and Cosmopolitans.

But look a little further. It’s more than urban pioneers and swigging singles.

See who’s using a third of the dozen retro-style lanes in this contemporary bowling alley/modern bar hybrid. The strikes, spares and gutter balls are rolling off the hands of employees on a mission. A team-building mission underwritten by employers ranging from Raymond James & Associates and Numara Software Inc. to WellCare Health Plan and Kforce Professional Staffing. “The Big Lebowski” as corporate chic.

“Team building was really big in the 1980s, then it leveled off for a while,” points out Deirdre Dixon, Program Director of the TECO Energy Center for Leadership at the University of Tampa. “Now it’s back in the forefront again.”

In many companies, team-building has become embedded in the culture. It’s a way of assuring that fiefdom-like business units and insulated departments actually come in contact with each other. There’s nothing bad about good morale.

“We want to knock down some of these (personnel) silos that inevitably build,” says Tony Thomas, Numara’s product manager. “Once you get in a comfort zone, it’s easier to communicate, to ask questions.”

These days, facilitating such goals entails a lot more than choosing between Outward Bound and tug-of-war. “Right now interactive places such as Splitsville and Disney Quest are very popular because they involve individuals as a group and allow them to work together for a visual goal and have fun while doing it,” says Vanessa Daniel, Training Operations Coordinator for Kforce.

“In today’s world, everybody wants a good, cohesive team at the top of their game — whatever the endeavor,” adds UT’s Dixon. Team-building exercises – ranging from sailing, drumming, rock climbing and bowling to volley ball, video games and scavenger hunts — help to develop a “more synergistic operation” and provide opportunities to use the “diversity of the whole team.

“Companies, quite understandably, want to ensure that they are getting the most from their employees,” underscores Dixon.

Splitsville owner Guy Revelle is certainly seeing the payoff. Splitsville realizes nearly 25 per cent of its overall sales from team-building events. That’s 40-50 per month.

Nothing about bowling for the bottom line surprises Revelle. The sport, he maintains, is the most egalitarian of all team-building activities. Skill isn’t a requisite, and it’s gender friendly. For example, golf, 5-k runs and even office foosball – all team-building staples – still require talent, endurance and dexterity.

“Bowling has been around forever and is something that almost everyone can do,” explains Revelle. “I mean, even if you’re not any good, it’s still fun. In bowling, the receptionist may be better than the president.”

To Numara’s Tony Thomas, the real fun is in the fundamentals. As in return on investment. What happens in the alleys doesn’t stay in the alleys.

“We do see the benefits,” says Thomas. “Building camaraderie and synergy is important. And with bowling, you don’t have to be an athlete; it appeals to multiple age groups; and it lends itself to teams.

“Even the heckling is fun.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *