What do you think of when you hear the words “Team Building”?
Beers and bowling or go carts and a team dinner. Most companies attempt to engage in a meaningful team building activity because it is what they believe they should be doing and that it will bring cohesion and engagement among their staff and employees.
The right form of team building will do these things, the wrong kind of team building will feel like a waste of time and not be taken seriously by your employees. You could run the risk of not only wasting the money invested on the activity but also the initial engagement that comes with an announcement of an upcoming team building opportunity.
Here are the three elements the companies leave out that lead to costly mistakes and missed opportunities for team building.
1. Group Engagement
You want to focus on activities that are going to involve problem solving elements, communication, and brain work. Most teams make the mistake of choosing bowling or a turn-based activity when not all members of the team remain engaged at all times. This leads to boredom and disenchantment with the entire experience. DO NOT under estimate the power of group activities. Some great activities are ropes courses, bubble soccer, or of course a day at the ranch for one of our POWER Retreats.
2. A Facilitator
Most companies think a facilitator is a costly and unnecessary addition to a team building day. Let me tell you this is probably the best investment you can make for your day. Let someone else be in charge of making the magic happen. A good facilitator should reach out a few weeks before your planned activity and get a background on those who are attending as well as team themes and obstacles. The day of they should lead and engage the group in their activities and facilitate processing. This is key for group engagement (see above). In addition, not having a member of the team facilitate and direct the processing portion leads to more open minds and healthy discussions.
3. Action Plan
Want to know if your team building day was a true success? 30 days down the road were the things discussed and obstacles identified on that day overcome? Did you leave the activity with clarity on how to move forward continuing the momentum began on that day? For most team building activities the answer to these questions is no. This a HUGE mistake. Make sure that all the hard work from the day is captured, documented, committed to or bought into by the team, and then HELD ACCOUNTABLE. There will be some magic that occurs the day of the team building but the true success is in the aftermath of all that hard work. Make sure there are clear steps for each team member and managers when you leave your activity.
BONUS: Off-Site or On-Site?
I will always recommend that you get your team off-site. I understand this is exponentially more costly and difficult as the logistics of taking the whole team off-site and planning travel accordingly but it is so much more effective. Having a team go off-site means that you will eliminate some – if not all – of the hierarchy that exists on-site in an office. When traveling off-site you get to see everyone out of their elements plus there are always less distractions then when attempting to stay in the office.
Those are the 3 BIGGEST mistakes that I have seen most teams be guilty of when trying to execute a meaningful team building experience. Most good consultants or leadership firms will provide you with an off-site choice, facilitated by a professional, with a report including documented action steps for after the day. If they are very good they might even follow up with your company after the day of the retreat to see how things are progressing.
If you have the chance to invest in a professional that can help avoid potential pitfalls and has a track record of success -hire them. They will ensure that you accomplish what it is that you wanted from the day, increased communication, productivity, cohesion, clarity, and overall engagement.
For photos from my favorite team building activity, our POWER Retreats, click here.