Say the words ‘team building’ and at best you’ll receive looks of unease. At worst, you’re likely to see employees dashing for the nearest exit. There’s something about team-building events that create a sense of discomfort in even the most loyal of workers. However, team-building events can be extremely valuable when done right, boosting morale, improving teamwork and increasing productivity. We know that’s easier said than done, with so many different personality types to cater to, but organising a successful team-building event that everyone will enjoy isn’t impossible.
In organising a proper team-building activity, there’s a lot to take into consideration, from people’s personalities to finding the best activities for them. To help you through this somewhat daunting task, we’ve got a few tips and tricks for making sure things go off without a hitch at your next team-building event.
Know the team’s needs
When you set out to plan a team building activity, it’s important to know what you want to get out of it. It’s tempting to do some team building just because it’s the done thing to do, but there should always be specific reasoning behind it. Is it to get to know each other better? Is it to address a specific concern or for the team to learn something new?
Understanding what the team needs and wants is important when setting up team-building events that have the desired effect. SEFE Marketing & Trading France’s Communications Manager, Olga Solovieva, is passionate about creating team-building practices that the whole team will appreciate. She says:
“Here at SEFE Marketing & Trading France, we always try to surprise our employees, to find something special and useful for them to enjoy. We usually talk to the teams to understand their needs, monitor what other companies are doing and how the event industry evolves. Well-prepared team-building helps people spend quality time with their colleagues outside of work. As a result, many of our employees have been able to learn something new, create stronger relations and become more engaged.”
Set out the goals
In answering the above questions, list the skill sets that the team needs to work on, whether it’s communication, teamwork, productivity or something else entirely. Write down at least three goals that you’d like to achieve after the team building activity is over.
Ask your team for ideas and feedback; they’ll be the ones doing the activities, so find out what they’d like to do and what areas they think they can improve on. Narrowing down the options to things people actually want to do helps give you a clearer picture of the event as it happens on the day.
You might look to use team building as a means of dealing with problem employees; those who struggle to communicate with others or tend to be abrasive at times. Planning ahead and arranging these people into groups where they can build better relationships can be extremely beneficial. It gives them the opportunity to grow together; using creativity to come up with solutions or learning about each other’s background helps to strengthen rapport between team members who have struggled with each other in the past.
Weigh up the return on investment
Though team-building events have an inherent element of fun, there’s still an understanding that there’ll be expected outcomes in much the same way as more formal training or conferences have. Thus, it’s easier to justify the costs for a budget and make it a sound investment.
When putting together a realistic budget, ask what the budget for previous team-building activities was like. Aligning your costs with prior events can help with expectations, but leave some extra over for unexpected expenses. Transportation, venue booking, activity providers, food and insurance will all have to be taken into account.
Decide the angle
What do you want the focus of the team building to be on? Is it going to be something fun to strengthen team bonds, or a problem-solving angle needed to work through certain difficulties? Here’s where insights from the team will come in useful. Employees will tend to be more engaged if the activity represents their definition of fun. It can be something as straightforward as giving employees cards to write something positive about their peers on, or a game of bowling.
If it’s an issue with respect or communication, then you’ll need to take a different tack. Consider having your team take a personality indicator test, and then see if your team can guess each other’s personality type, for instance.
Pick the right date and time
Part of pleasing everyone is choosing a date and time for the event that works with your entire team. You’ll have to take busy schedules and calendars into consideration before you finalise these details, or you risk interfering with the time that might be valuable for certain members of staff.
Additionally, you’ll have to take seasonality and weather into account if you’re planning on doing something outside.
Develop an event day agenda
It will help your team if they know what it is they’re doing as part of your proposed team-building event. Devising an agenda can help you schedule out the day and easily communicate to your colleagues what exactly will be taking place, so that they can arrive prepared and focused.
Highlight the exact activities, arrival and departure times, meeting points and duration of activity. From here, they get a sense of what the day is going to look like and can start to make their own preparations in terms of getting work boxed off, doing any necessary event-related tasks and even mentally preparing themselves for the day itself. It’s recommended that you distribute the agenda a few weeks in advance.
Leave job titles at the door
Making everyone feel comfortable is a large piece of team-building events. One way you can ensure that all employees feel like they’re on equal footing is by forgetting about job titles and egos for the time being. It ensures better communication and team spirit when there are no subordinates or superiors, plus it allows those who usually wouldn’t be in such positions to show their own leadership style.
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