When planned correctly, an away day can have a substantial positive impact on the performance of your team. The perfect away day can incorporate many opportunities for leaders and team members to get know each other better, share visions and goals, and to discuss or tackle important issues.
Away Day Checklist
To ensure your team day goes to plan, make sure you plan efficiently. Use the checklist below and build a successful team away day.
When – Picking the date is important, it needs to be a day that everyone can attend and one that doesn’t conflict with the wider business calendar. A good time would be half way through the financial year or in January just after the Christmas break when people’s spirits are still high.
Why – Teams function the best when there is a shared sense of purpose and mutual respect, which is hard to cultivate in a busy office environment. If the team is left in the dark about the reasoning behind the trip they may lose focus. You need to let them know what is happening so they’re not left thinking ‘’I have work to do, what a waste of time’’.
What – Picking the right activity is very important. Long team meetings or a few hours in the pub won’t necessarily bond the team. Often a more developmental attitude to the team activity will work best, other times a more celebratory approach will be the best solution. Seek advice to find the right method for your team.
Who – If you allow people to opt out of the activity this will suggest bad leadership and may lead to future conflict. The away day should be treated just as importantly as every day work. It’s worth hiring a specialist facilitator to help lead team exercises, position messages, and help structure the day so that the leader can join in with the activities.
Where – The location of the day needs to be inspiring, memorable and somewhere different to regular or previous meetings. You want the team to connect with the place so that it can be well remembered and help create a mind-set for future referencing. Just mentioning the place or day should spark a memory that reminds the team members of the connections they created.
How – Have a discussion with your team, picking the dates together and discussing how long you will go for. Then contact suppliers. Fresh Tracks can work with you to find the perfect venue, activity agenda, and shortlist some activities.
Reasons Team Away Days Go Wrong
Often team away days go wrong and the aims of the day don’t turn out as expected. The main reasons for this happening are:
- Lack of structure and variety.
- The activity doesn’t relate to the business or suit the team.
- The leader isn’t in charge of the agenda.
- Uninspiring location or non-motivating activities.
What to do if your Team Away Day goes wrong
Not every team building activity is going to work for every single team, so inevitably there may rare occasions where your plans go to pot. If this does happen, do not panic, there are steps you can take to ensure that the rest of the day doesn’t follow suit and you might even be able to learn something from the experience.
- Take a moment to pause the activity and identify what is going wrong, then try to refocus the team
- Keep an eye on participant energy levels, if there starts to be a lull it may be time to bring in an energiser to lift the mood
- If participants are really not enjoying or appearing uncomfortable during the activity, don’t force it as this can cause tensions within the team. Don’t be afraid to admit defeat and abandoned the activity.
- Hold a debrief on the day to identify what exactly went wrong and how it can be prevented from happening again.