What are team building days for? Why do companies book them? Mostly, to:
• Take people away from their usual work environment
• Free them from the usual work distractions
• Reward them for what they do
• Get them to think about what they might do differently
• Provide a safe place for them to try out new ways of doing things
• Improve how they work as a team
• Raise morale
Fine intentions, all of them. But how do you convert them into realities? At Initiative Unlimited, we have 25 years’ experience of running successful team building events. Here are some Dos and Don’ts for you:
• Be clear about what you really want your team building days to achieve. Drunken mayhem? A fun day out with friends? Coming up with new ideas and new ways of working? Knowing what you want means you are much more likely to get it.
• Be realistic. An afternoon of general team building games should be easy enough to arrange. Run well, they will have a useful, short term impact on productivity and team spirit. But for lasting, long term results, you may well need something much more specific. Something designed especially for your group. Something which addresses any particular individual and team issues it has. The start of something, not just a quick fix.
• Have an idea of what your budget is before you start making enquiries. Think of it as like buying a car. If you can let us know roughly what you might want to spend, we can tailor any quotes to suit. If you don’t, we’ll just be guessing. We’ll offer you a Proton when you want a Porsche. Or vice versa.
• Expect the unexpected. Last minute drop-outs. Late arrivals. Delays. Wrong shoes. Wrong trousers. Your event organiser should be able to help minimise the impact any of these may have. By being flexible about final numbers. By advising you on what to tell your group beforehand: how much to give away about what’s happening, how important punctuality is, etc. Keeping everything a complete surprise can work fine – providing people still know which clothes and shoes to bring!
• Be selective. Different team building companies do things differently. Some do them badly. Some do them well. Follow the advice we give in Team Building Companies. Choose carefully.
• Be too rigid about timings. Most events have a “natural” running time, but all groups behave differently. When your team building activities are under way, a good event organiser will want to fine tune the running order and timings to provide what will work best for your group. Let him/her do that!
• Disregard “old” ideas too quickly. Team building murder mysteries aren’t a new idea. They survive because, when done well, they deliver great results. Our How To Tell Good Team Building Ideas From Bad Team Building Ideas article has more on this.
• Pack too much in. Let your group have some free time, too. Especially if you’ve put them in a prime location. Your event organiser should be able to advise you on when the best time for this may be.
• Rely too much on Free Team Building Games and doing everything yourselves. Some free games are excellent. But you’ll still need people to put them together for you. And run them for you. People who understand properly the “mechanics” of each game. People who can make them work well with every kind of group. Professionals, in other words.