Seven Steps to Planning a Useful Team Building Event

Planning a useful team building event can be a challenge, but these seven steps will help you to ensure that your people enjoy not only a great time, but also benefit from insights and lessons that they can apply to workplace interactions.

So, here are your seven steps to planning a useful team building event:

1. Decide what you want to accomplish.

This is the most important part of the event – the preparation and deciding what your day of team building activities should provide as take-aways for your people. Sometimes, you can make a little progress with building rapport with a weekly bonding session or fun de-stressing opportunity to laugh or learn together. But if you do not have experience facilitating team-building activities, or if you want a more thorough and productive set of outcomes, consider hiring a team-building trainer.

A good team-building coach can create cohesiveness and improve communications within your staff using a set of customized games and challenges. The person should be high-energy and focus mainly on experiential exercises (not lecturing) that will provide the take-aways your group needs!

2.Choose a budget and a location. Once you know what you want your team building day to accomplish, you need to decide on a location and a budget to ensure those goals are achieved. If you are looking to reward your employees for successfully completing a big project, you may want an off-site location. Do you want them to get to know each other and work through personality differences or communication issues? Once you have the goal for the day and a general budget in mind, you can schedule an activity for the location that best fits those needs.

3. Schedule it for an appropriate time. Employees will always be more receptive to a team building day of activities if it is held during work hours and does not interfere with their valuable personal time. When you schedule the event, keep your employees’ schedules and other obligations in mind. You may also want to consider the current calendar or any ongoing projects. The best time to “build” your team or identify and work through issues is before that project gets underway – or before a big change is undertaken. Many schools look for dates at the beginning of their semesters to allow their staff to work better together.

4. Make it special. Fun and unique experiences are the best ways to bring your team closer together. Many people are only interested in giving their people a chance to interact outside the normal confines of their office relationships. There is certainly a value in providing “bonding” experiences.

True “Team Building,” though, involves experiential learning activities that are both enjoyable and unique AND can be used as a catalyst for discussions and insights that can be applied to everyday interactions to improve organizational culture. Think about the interests and fitness levels of your employees when deciding on a “fun” activity… and if you want a more impactful event, consider a business team building day of more focused and meaningful challenges.

5. Leave job titles at the door. One of the most important keys to creating a successful team building day is for all employees to feel like they are on equal footing, regardless of their positions back at the office. Emphasize to your people that office titles do not exist during the team building activities. Everyone should be encouraged to leave their ego in their back pocket! Coming in on equal footing and with no perceived subordinates or supervisors allows others who normally may not take the initiative to illustrate their leadership style and fosters better communication and more creativity.

6. Identify who needs to “grow together.” Every team and organization has at least one or two people that struggle to communicate well or rub others the wrong way. If you have a “sandpaper person” in your group, it may pay dividends to plan ahead and arrange your people into the specific groups that most need to interact together and build better relationships.

If there are any team personality types in the group that is clashing with another person or department, give them the opportunity to grow together by placing them in the same group. Being forced to overcome an obstacle or come up with creative solutions or learn more about each other’s background often work wonders and strengthen rapport between team members who have struggled to interact productively in the past!

7. Get feedback. Two or three weeks after the event, ask your people to provide anonymous feedback about the team building day. This can provide valuable information for you to plan similar or more successful events in the future. Team building is like bridge maintenance – it is ongoing and never fully complete, as there are always relationships that can be strengthened and leadership skills that can be learned or improved.

By finding out what your group liked and disliked about the event, or what they have been able to apply to improve your organizational culture, you can address their concerns and re-evaluate your goals to meet other needs with future events.

The true value of a team building day is not the enjoyment and engagement your people experience in the midst of the activities. It is not even the laughter or light hearted lowering of stress levels that you should most want to hear about.

A quality team building event should also provide your people with the tools and insights to make modifications to their daily interactions, priorities, and attitudes.

The return on your investment will be determined by your thorough attention to each of these seven steps – and if you are intent on creating a useful team building event, you will enjoy the success that good preparation promises…

Team building offers a fun, safe, non-threatening way to improve communication, teamwork, and leadership skills with the laughter and lessons that interactive group activities provide.

As an experienced coach, author, speaker, and team-building facilitator, Sean Glaze entertains, informs, and influences audiences with a unique blend of dynamic content, interactive activities, and practical action steps.

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A Guide to the Different Types of Team Building

Team building is a diverse field with a wide variety of approaches that cater to an even wider variety of teams. They range from loud and outgoing activities that target younger audiences to more natural perception-based events staged for the more reserved or executive crowd.

After you have determined your budget, you’ll need to take stock of what your team needs to revive, repair, retain, or reward it. Only after assessing these two things will you be able to determine the type of team building that will do your key people the most good. If you find that your needs and your budget don’t align, you may have to adjust your budget or save for a while to be able to invest in what is needed.

Here are the big 3 types of team building, and a little bit about each one.

Office Session Team Building

This is the most well-known of the various kinds of team building options available. Countless comic strips make this the punch line of their office jokes, yet this is still a prevalent approach that many people rely on to pull their people together. It is by far the most economic option, but is also the least effective in terms of staff motivation and job satisfaction.

During an office team building session, contracted team builders come in to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the team, and then provide various exercises meant to address them. The shortfall of this method is that these sessions tend to be viewed as cheesy, embarrassing, and overly transparent by a lot of people. If your team isn’t wholly composed of extroverts who don’t mind being the focus of the room during forced amateur improv performances, these sessions can even be daunting and perceived as more of a punishment than anything else. You really have to be aware of the personalities on your team when choosing this option.

The majority of people don’t want to play ‘two truths and a lie’ at work. Being quizzed on your personal life in order to level the playing field through mutual humiliation and dread is no way to build a team, and more times than not, that’s how people feel about it. There might have been a time and a place for them before, but now it seems they are outnumbered by more authentic options that build teams in a more natural way.

Survival, Risk, or Adrenaline Based Team Building

Another kind of team building that’s really making waves right now is organized group activities that are based on evoking survival instincts and adrenaline responses based on risky or downright frightening shared experiences. This is a great option if you’ve got a bunch of adventurers on your team. People that thrive on competition and tend towards stimulation rather than relaxation in their off-hours will eat this up. Sports and high-stakes sales teams are best suited to this level of stress-inducing fun.

Companies that cater to this kind of team building offer things like outdoor survival in the woods or desert, hunting, or camping in the secluded wild with limited resources for a week or over the weekend. Ziplining, base or skydiving, bungee jumping, and aerial obstacle courses are also shorter variations of the same kind of experience. If you’ve got a young team that thrives on new experiences, exhilaration, and challenges, this is a great option. Just make sure there’s a consensus before signing up for anything like this, or it will only defeat the purpose of what you’re trying to achieve.

Travel & Voluntourism Based Team Building

This option is likely a bit pricier than the other two types of team building experiences, but has the greatest opportunity for growth, revival, team member integration, company loyalty, good PR, and morale boosting. If you’re a company that is used to sending their executive, management, or sales teams off to weekend leadership development or corporate workshops, you might even find it to be less expensive than what you’re used to budgeting for.

The basic tenet that travel based team building revolves around is that sharing unique experiences with team members in a foreign setting forms strong bonds that might not otherwise develop, and inspires people to see and connect with the world around them in a new way. It provides common ground for team members to exist as equals, and encourages authentic awareness. It takes people outside of what they know, but in a comfortable enough way to make all the great stuff that comes from experiencing something like this worthwhile and easy to grow from. Climbing a volcano to roast marshmallows is both challenging and rewarding to achieve together. The view at the top inspires personal gratitude and awe of the world we’re a part of, and sharing this with teammates can really enhance the relationship they share.

A travel based team building experience that also incorporates voluntourism takes the travel experience one step further. In addition to sightseeing and climbing volcanoes together, it also gives the team something they can be proud of having accomplished together. Incorporating volunteer time into the tourism experience leaves the host community better and stronger than it was before thanks to the work of the contributing team. That can be a truly powerful feeling. It’s also something people want to hear about and take part it, and elevates not only your employee’s vision of the company, but your clients’ and community’s as well.

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