Ensuring the benefits of team building last

So you've decided to do a team building event but you want to ensure the benefits you gain in the session last and transfer back to the workplace. Below are some suggested strategies to help this along.

Don't set too many goals.

Most team building events fall into one of three categories.
A. A fun event to break up a conference or meeting agenda.
B. A fun event to reinforce some key messages presented in a recent conference or meeting.
C. A fun event to address some key team issues that have been identified at work.

Please note that above I have included FUN in all three categories for a reason, and that is that I believe people learn, concentrate and are more receptive when they are having fun.

No matter which category your event falls into it is important to list the key outcomes you would like to achieve from the event. Remember the average team building program will last for 3 to 4 hours, therefore don't expect to solve the problems of the world in this time. No more than two or three key outcomes is realistic and achievable.

In categories A and B the outcomes might be:
- have fun
- touch on the key messages from the conference
- for all team members to experience each other in an environment outside the workplace

If you fall into category C you need to list your "key issues" and highlight your top 3 outcomes, remembering that FUN will be the first. For example if this is your first team event and your team don't communicate well across various departments which has resulted in some internal feuds, your key out comes for this event might be to:
- have fun
- work with others from various departments
- have all delegates experience each other’s various strengths and weaknesses.

You will note that in the example above that I haven't suggested addressing any "issues" specifically, especially if this is your first team event with this group. It is important people have an understanding of each other before trying to address specific issues.

Management Participation

I am a big believer in this strategy. To achieve lasting benefits from any team building event the manager of the team must participate. This not only follows the "lead by example" principle, but a manager will gain invaluable insight into people within their team by being present on the program. This insight and experience will enable the memories and lessons to be more easily transferred into the workplace.

Facilitated Discussion

Now that you have clearly identified your key outcomes and management have agreed to participate, make sure your Teambuilding facilitator is aware of these outcomes. To ensure your desired message is getting relayed to your team a good Teambuilding facilitator will be able to conduct a facilitated discussion throughout the event, touching on your outcomes. One very successful way for this to be achieved is for the facilitator to provide "discussion" sheets that are filled out at the end of the program. The Teambuilding facilitator will then use these questions to guide a facilitated discussion with the group to ensure the message has been relayed. It is important however to remember that Teambuilding facilitators are generally not educators and their skill is to facilitate a discussion that will bring about a better understanding and awareness of the outcomes you have identified.

For a more detailed understanding and addressing of key issues an external facilitator with expertise in your areas of interest can be engaged to work along side the team building facilitator to gain the best outcome.

Followup

In order to keep the memory and lessons learnt alive make sure you follow up. Something as simple as an email one month after the event with photos of the day with the key outcomes highlighted can be enough to keep these outcomes top of mind for people. Another team building event six months later with a more targeted focus on some of the key issues can also be valuable to keep the learning experience going.

Change

Einstein defined insanity as "to keep doing things the same but expect a different result". Change and challenge the way you have always done things. Ask yourself "how would my staff describe the culture in our organisation?” One team building event will never be enough to create permanent change within any organisation. I'm not suggesting you need to do a professionally organised Teambuilding event every month, although if budget allows my team will be sure to look after you, a work dinner or Friday drinks allow people to get together outside the work environment and see a different side of each other.

As Richard Branson has always said, staff are your number 1 asset, as they look after the clients who in turn will make the shareholders happy.

If you are looking for some unique team event ideas feel free to visit www.corporatechallenge.com.au or contact one of our team across Australia and NZ.

Thanks again for reading, you feedback is always welcome. dwain@corporatechallenge.com.au

 

Dwain Richardson
Director
Corporate Challenge

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