When envisioned, planned and executed in the right way, team building can do amazing things for your company. If you have recently added new members to your team, it can be a great tool to help them connect with the rest of the team, foster great communication and establish a sense of camaraderie. If you compare a company with a family, great team building can provide you with a functional loving family whose members know and love each other as opposed to simply standing one another simply because they live (work) under the same roof. Aside from being beneficial for the relationship between new and old members, it can do wonders in repairing some of the possible resentment and intolerance between employees who have been working together for a long time. Finally, it serves as a great management tool – your team members get to see the leader’s more relaxed and less ‘boss’ and authority side. The employees get to see the boss’s human and warmer side, which in turn helps create a significantly more relaxed and productive work environment. As said, this can all be achieved if the activity itself is planned in a way that is fun and enjoyable for each and every one of you, so let us see what a great team building event boils down to.
Do it for the right reasons
A team building activity is doomed to fail if your heart is not in the right place. Never do it simply because it needs to be done, to fulfill some sort of norm. Do it to make your team better, more understanding, loving even, and to truly work through some issues, boost morale. Before you can do any of that, use your Human Resources partner to interview team members, summarize the issues, and set-up a problem solving agenda. Then, work through each issue, clarifying differences and creating solutions.
Leave nothing to chance
Careful and detailed planning is paramount to the success of a team building event. The first thing you need to do is to assign a team to plan the event. With your planning committee, make sure there’s a crossover between the team planning the retreat and those that are participating. If the delegates attending the event feel like they’ve influenced decisions in terms of the activities to be involved in, they’re more likely to be engaged on the day of the event. The second thing is knowing your purpose and plan activities accordingly. If your goals include increase of productivity, working on deficiencies within the team, improving interpersonal relationships and enhancing communication, make sure that your activities are tightly connected with your agenda, and don’t waste time on activities that have nothing to bring to the table regarding your goals. Finally, make it your priority to engage as many people as possible. It’s important to gain support and participation from the top executives in your business. They’re highly influential and leading by example creates a stronger motivation for other employees to engage in the retreat. Also, think of a fun name. The Third Annual Teambuilding Program is not going to excite many participants but something witty and motivational like Rocket to the Top, Together!Will do the trick, so be innovative and think outside the box
Choose the right venue
With the increased popularity of team building, there are numerous great venues to choose from, any many of them cater to exactly these types of events. As this should be an educational but also a bonding and relaxing experience, the best choice is a retreat in a rural location. These types of surroundings minimize distraction and keep the participants focused on the activities. Of course, nice accommodation and food and drinks are obviously important, so when searching for venues, take this into account.
Shake things up
Yes, games and activities can be fun, if you choose and design them that way, but your team also needs some genuine r&r. This is the time when hiring a great event management team is in order. They can help you set up a great evening for your team, perhaps a theme party or gala, perhaps a dinner with live music and lots of dancing. You would be surprised how many of your team members have been longing for a night of good old-fashioned fun, and how much it will mean to them in terms of unwinding and boosting morale. More than that, in a setting this relaxed, you may even witness true friendships being born among co-workers, and fences mended between those who had had issues.
Make it purposeful and fun
The secret behind great team building activities is fun. This is not a dull seminar; if you want to improve trust and foster a positive, educational and fun environment, the activities should be designed as games not tasks. One of the best ice-breaker activities everyone enjoys is the Desert Island. Prepare your team by telling them that they’ll be flown off to a desert island and they’re only allowed to pack three items with them. Each delegate will then present their three items to the rest of the group, along with reasoning as to why they chose each one. Not only does this help your team members start to think pragmatically but it also offers a way to see their personality, how they think, and how they react to being ‘put on the spot’. Two other engaging and amusing activities are getting positive that works wonders in terms of creating closeness and trust, and there is also questions and answers which can be modified to serve as an introduction to the upcoming goal-oriented activities. As for further activities, use free resources that offer dozens of free activities you can choose from that best suit the purpose of your retreat. Keep the activities engaging, and don’t use the ones that not everyone is physically capable of doing. This particularly applies to outdoor activities. Not everyone has the same level of fitness and not being able to complete an activity will lower morale in some members, so choose activities that everyone can partake in.
It’s not over until it’s over
One mistake that many team leaders often make is focusing almost solely on the initiatives themselves and neglect the debriefing session at the end of training with the entire group. At the final debriefing, lessons extracted from the day’s activities should be explored.
Players’ opinions should be drawn out and they should be asked to explain what they saw, heard, learned and felt during the team building actives and what potential applications could be derived for the team.