It’s pretty much accepted in business circles that team building is an important investment. Team bonding activities can boost morale, improve communication and give colleagues a greater understanding of strengths and weaknesses within the team.
Team building days are all about improving relationships and ultimately performance. They also help to reinforce company values and evolve the culture of the business.
And remember, team building days aren’t just about benefits they bring for the company. They should also be beneficial to the personal development of the individuals taking part. Ideally, your team building event or activity day should be something all employees look forward to.
Badly organised team building events can do more harm than good. Certain activities will isolate some from taking part. There’s no point organising brutal physically challenging activities when it’s clear that half of the team don’t have the physical fitness to cope with the challenge.
That said, activities should include a certain level of physical and mental challenge because that is part of what a team building day is supposed to be about. Getting the balance right isn’t easy.
So how do you make sure your team building day goes off without a hitch? Read our top tips to make sure your team building day isn’t a flop.
Choose the right activities for an inclusive team building day
One of the biggest failures of team building days comes down to the programme of activities and the facilitator. Team building activities need to be interesting, stimulating and most of all fun. The activities you choose also need to involve the whole team, and that’s not always easy.
It’s never a good idea to hold team building activities in the office. A team building day shouldn’t be just another day at work. Changing the setting is imperative.
In terms of activities, initiative games and group problem-solving work well for groups, as do Bushcraft skills and orienteering. Something along the lines of the Crystal Maze TV Show works brilliantly, which includes physical and mental challenges and requires teamwork.
Don’t be afraid to include something a bit out of the ordinary too. Just be sure you don’t make it the only activity. For example, indoor skydiving is an activity most people can do, and can easily be tagged onto other activities nearby. See Into the Blue for a range of indoor skydiving options, if that sounds appealing.
A great facilitator will ensure the day goes off without a hitch, keeping everyone involved and focused. An experienced facilitator can help develop a programme to suit the unique dynamics of your people, so hiring outside help could be an investment worth making.
Include staff in the planning
The biggest mistake some managers make when planning a team building activity day is to choose activities they themselves see as the most fun or the most challenging. This doesn’t necessarily make the activity the most suitable or best for the whole team.
Ask for input from staff about areas they struggle with and plan accordingly. It’s important to stretch staff to try new activities, but don’t force them to participate in activities that are dangerous or inappropriate. Staff are more likely to be enthusiastic about the team building day if they have been included in the planning.
Turn killjoys into eager participants
What if Jenny from accounts and Brian from sales have zero enthusiasm for this sort of thing? You’ll always get a few groans at the announcement of a team building day. What is important is to deliver value to your employees. Help employees understand the benefits for them in participating, such as the professional and personal development opportunities. Make every staff member know that their input is as valuable as any other employee.
Encourage staff to take risks
It’s really important you sell the idea that this is just as much about personal development as it is about improving team performance. Hold a preliminary meeting in the office prior to the team building day to explain what’s involved and to encourage full participation.
Let staff know that what takes place in team building sessions stays there. Making mistakes and failure should be encouraged. Encourage your staff to take risks.
What to do when an activity flops
Have a back-up plan for everything. If a particular activity isn’t going well, don’t be afraid to pull the plug. Pushing on through with an activity that isn’t going well will demotivate staff, not motivate them. When enthusiasm slumps, you need to quickly pick it back up.
Stop the activity and refocus your team. Try to encourage the team to problem solve about where things went wrong. See if it is possible to resume the activity with some tweaks. Part of the team building experience is about problem-solving after all. Abandon the activity if it can’t be rescued.
Follow these simple rules and your team building day should be a rip-roaring success.