The newest trend in team-building these days are team-building seminars, either hands-on or conference-style. Before you buy in to a spendy team-building event, why not run through a quick checklist to ensure your team will fully utilize the experience.
1. Ask your people. If you’re going to sign up all your employees or your entire department to a team-building event, ask them about the planning and design. People are really open and willing to try just about anything if given some advance warning. "Games can be trite or patronizing for many people - they want activities that will help them learn and develop in areas that interest them for life, beyond work stuff," writes Alan Chapman at BusinessBalls.com. Consider physical challenges, like an obstacle water course outdoors, or something more brainy, a complex puzzle at a science center. Or try something cultural near to your company. Your employees will guide you.
2. Consider the make-up of your team. Chapman also recommends that you track a few variables, including:
- team mix (age, job type, department, gender, seniority, etc.)
- team numbers (one to a hundred or more, pairs and threes, leadership issues)
- exercise briefing and instructions – how difficult you make the task, how full the instructions and clues are
- games or exercise duration
- competitions and prizes
- venue and logistics - room size and availability (for break-out sessions, etc.)
- materials provided or available
- stipulation of team member roles – e.g., team leader, time-keeper, scribe (note-taker), reviewer/presenter
- scoring, and whether the exercise is part of an ongoing competition or team league"
3. Think about what you are trying to achieve. Are you hoping for improved productivity, trying to bridge differences between members, or training new members into the processes of your team? The end will guide the means, so consider carefully what you’d like to accomplish with the team-building activity.
4. Make sure the instructions for the event are clear. This includes the time, the place, the activity, how long the activity will take place, and the goal for the activity. If you can make sure every single member is aware of the details for the event, you’ll end up with a group of willing participants, and maybe even an improved team experience before the event itself.
5. Chapman also recommends that you "ensure that team-building activities and all corporate events comply with equality and discrimination policy and law in respect of gender, race, disability, age, etc."
Once you’ve worked out these issues, your team-building event, whether popular or controversial, will be a greater success and will facilitate a stronger, more cohesive team.