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Team building exercises and excursions can increase overall employee performance, promote cooperation among team members and across teams, enhance employee job satisfaction and help to broaden the understanding of corporate goals and objectives.
They can also, if improperly designed or administered, do nothing.
The events you choose should serve as microcosms for the problems (and solutions) your employees face.
Consider the following Dos and Don’ts when planning your next team building session:
DO connect the challenges of the events to the struggles your employees confront daily.
The events you choose should serve as microcosms for the problems (and solutions) your employees face. It’s imperative then to define these obstacles first. If a primary team challenge is, for example, adapting to a new matrix-style organizational structure, then matching exercises involving small, specialized teams working together to achieve a common goal would be in order.
DON’T create events that are too physically demanding for any team members.
Chances are that physical endurance, strength or dexterity are not employee success factors on your team. Fitness and physical ability should, then, typically not play a major role in your team building events. Look carefully at the composition of your team and set the level of physical assertion necessary low enough so that each team member can participate satisfactorily. Physical activities, especially outdoors, can be memorable and successful; just make sure everyone can be included.
DO follow-up on lessons learned. Even perfect exercise design and facilitation doesn’t guarantee results. It’s vital that follow-up sessions are scheduled to reemphasize and measure your teams’ progress. Too often, team building exercises are administered as single dose cure-alls. Instead, they should serve as an opening ceremony for a continuing drive towards success. To help quantify this success (and in turn your ROI), choose objective performance statistics to compare against historical data.
DON’T create events that are too taxing or too mindless.
In an effort to ensure that employees have fun while completing team building exercises, some fascinators make them too light and sappy. Conversely some organizers create events that are unduly draining, emotionally or otherwise. Try to strike a balance so that your events aren’t overly comical or overly difficult, as either of these extremes will detract from the main messages of the events.
DO consider hiring professionals to draft and administer your exercises. Depending on your cost and time constraints, and the complexity of the exercises you’d like to carry out, outsourcing the process may be a wise choice for you. Professional consultants can help you identify what messages you’d like to push through your sessions, facilitate the event (or give you the tools necessary to do it yourself), and implement the feedback and measurement components afterward. It’s certainly worth considering.
By Chris Alfe, Staff Writer from Thingamajob
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Teambuilding can give a powerful boost to the spirit and effectiveness of any group. Well designed and delivered teambuilding programs can lead to better understanding, clearer alignment and much stronger motivation.
Organizing a “teambuilding event” is a big responsibility. Use these ideas to make your event a well-planned and memorable success.
1. Set the Tone With an Inspiring Theme:
Telegraph the tone and purpose of your event with a theme that hits the mark. “The Third Annual Teambuilding Program” is not going to excite many participants. Here are examples of themes my recent clients have to motivate and communicate their teams: “Rocket to the Top, Together!” (for a software company seeking to achieve dominant market share), “The Winning Team” (for a financial services company seeking to overcome competitors and economic adversity), “Forging a New Alliance” (for a medical services group managing a reorganization of roles and departments).
2. Prime the Pump for Full Participation:
Use internal communications to get everyone interested and ready for the event. Use memos, bulletin boards, posters and internal meetings to arouse people’s curiosity.
You might circulate a list of objectives and issues for the meeting. You might conduct a survey prior to the meeting, announcing actual results during the program. You might task certain individuals with preparing a business presentation, or selected teams with creating and rehearsing an entertainment item.
3. Conduct the Program Off-Site:
Major teambuilding programs are frequently conducted “off-site”. This allows participants to get away from the workplace physically (minimizing disruptions) and mentally (opening their thinking to new points of view).
4. Use a Mix of Energy, Enterprise and Entertainment:
Stimulate interest and get involvement by using a full range of teambuilding activities. You may have “hard work” sections with speeches about the future and workshops on current business problems. You may have “play hard” sections with team games and outdoor challenges. You may include social ingredients through mealtime activities, awards and entertainment.
Be sure your range of activities are well-sequenced throughout the day and evening. Be especially careful to follow lunches with activity, and to end your program on a note of confidence and commitment.
5. Allow Enough Time to Process, Discuss and Apply
Allow enough time between each activity for discussion, learning and application back to the job. It’s better to have a full day with two teambuilding games and enough time for discussion, than a “stuffed” day with three or four games with little time for reflection.
6. Focus on New Actions with “More”, “Less”, “Start” and “Stop”:
During the program, have participants develop clear answers to the following questions:
“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to do more of?”
“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to do less of?”
“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to start doing?”
“What do you want (the other person, department, etc.) to stop doing?”
Towards the end of the program, participants can make another list of personal commitments:
“What am I committed to do more of?”
“What am I committed to do less of?”
“What am I committed to start doing?”
“What am I committed to stop doing?”
7. Use Photographs and Video to Extend the Program’s Impact:
Engage a photographer and/or videographer to document your teambuilding program. Give copies of photographs to participants after the event. Post the best photographs on your bulletin boards, in the cafeteria, or publish them in the company newsletter. If you put them up on your company’s World Wide Web site, then staff’s family members can log-in and view them from home.
Have the videotape edited with music and some snappy graphics. Show this short but entertaining vignette at another company meeting, social gathering, dinner and dance, etc.
8. Harness the Power of Peripheral Players:
When selecting participants for your program, be willing to include those tangentially related to the core group. Internal customers, suppliers, neighboring departments, etc. can all yield a few participants who are “closely related” to your core group.
These “peripheral players” will often add significant value, perspective and insight to your program. They can also help with communication back into the organization after the event is over.
9. Get Personal:
Make sure everyone sees the link between “group teambuilding” and “individual actions” on the job. Have each person complete a commitment card, action planning list, personal promise statement or some other vehicle to ensure application of appropriate new behaviors. Closing a teambuilding program by having everyone share their list is a good way to gain buy-in from individuals, and the entire group.
10. Reward the Organizers:
Planning and preparing a teambuilding program is a major undertaking. Be sure to give recognition to those who did the work “behind the scenes”. A small but thoughtful gift, given in front of everyone at the end of the program, will be appreciated and remembered.
By Ron Kaufman, More Information about the author: click here for the Ron Kaufman Home Page. Copyright, Ron Kaufman.