When you think of cooperate team building your mind may wander to the clichéd notion of Jan in accounts and Dave in HR trying their best to attach two plastic barrels together using nothing more than twine rope and a plank of wood. Their looks of steely determination, hiding their knowledge that they are about to spend 5 minutes in a cold lake after their craft – “Rafty McRaftface” – collapses… a meter and a half off the shore.
Do Jan and Dave want to be there? No.
The main problem in this scenario is that neither Jan nor Dave had the desire to be there and the activity was chosen purely as a default. There was little thought put into whether or not this would benefit them personally and professionally and more emphasis put on planning team building within budgets. At the end of the day, both Jan and Dave are going home in wet pants thinking to themselves, “what was the point of that?”.
WHAT’S YOUR GOAL?
Before you decide the team building option that is right for your team, you need to consider what you want to get out of your time.
Do you want to improve team morale?
Improve leadership skills within your team?
Strengthen interpersonal skills and relationships?
Improve employee communication skills?
Encourage flexible thinking?
Resolve conflict or install trust with in the team?
Each of these goals will affect the types of team building activities you should consider, but it goes beyond this; by identifying an end goal at the start of your planning you can ensure that every decision made is in the best interest of fulfilling it.
Without it, decisions could be made which are based on personal preference and while this should be an element, the end objective and goal need to be considered throughout.
To improve team morale, why not try a deliberately challenging activity. Most team building companies will ensure their challenging activities are achievable. Once your team works together to overcome the challenge they will leave with a real sense of achievement.
Looking to improve your employee’s communication skills? There are a number of activities you could do which have communication at the heart of them. Once your team is out of the office and placed in a new setting you’d be surprised how many come out of their shell and enjoy the day. The Grabber activity is the grown up version of Rescue Barbie and requires mini-teams communicating and working in unison.
Encouraging flexible thinking can be a tricky one, but quite often a novel environment and a challenge in front of someone is all they need to start thinking outside the box. Very often there are a number of solutions to the challenges in a team building activity which may not be immediately apparent. An activity to stimulate the mind as well as the body would work here – something like the popular Escape scenario.
WHO ARE YOUR TEAM?
The old saying goes ‘you can’t choose your family’ and in most cases (unless you are the hiring manager), you can’t chose your colleagues either. Taking your colleagues needs and wants in to account is one of the single biggest challenges when it comes to planning a team building day. Jan doesn’t like strenuous activities, Dave is petrified of open water and Sharon is a pescatarian.
From experience we have found that the best way to deal with things like this is a bit like being a doctor in Accident & Emergency. You need to triage each issue and deal with it accordingly.
Having a list of deal-breakers and nice to haves at your side when choosing can really help clear your mind and narrow down on the perfect activity for your team.
We’re not going to rattle on about type 1 vs type 2 personalities here, but it is important to consider this when picking your activity.
If you’re planning a day for a group of alpha-male salesmen who all love football, then making it competitive and including football in the theme could really add to the enjoyment of the day and more importantly, their buy-in – Football-Golf anyone?
If you’re a tech firm and you’re planning a day for your developers who are introverted and interested in sci-fi, then a lock room with a post-apocolypse theme could be much more suited to your audience.
Planning activities for a whole company with a wide range of personalities is a little trickier, but consulting your colleagues and asking for their input is a great way to get ideas. You could even run a little competition with the winning idea getting a small prize – a bottle of wine or some vouchers.
Generally speaking when planning for larger groups, the more generic the activity the better, but this doesn’t have to mean boring or uninspiring. Events such as chocolate making ensure that everyone can take part, while at the same time being fun (and delicious!). It also means there are no winners or losers and everyone who attends leaves with a sense of accomplishment and their sweet-tooth satisfied.