Teambuilding events must be worth the business investment

I am often asked to facilitate team building events. Occasionally the person coordinating the event from the client corporation is tasked with setting up a fun day, but most often the team’s manager is hoping to solve a problem within the team. It is important to know what you want from a team-building event before contacting a potential facilitator or facility.

When I am contacted about team building, I listen to what the coordinator says is needed, which typically emphasizes the word “fun”. My response is “I have lots of activities that are fun, so we can definitely do that. What is it you want your team(s) to learn at this event?” I guess I need a better way to communicate this questions because I sometimes get a reply that they want “team-building not training.” If there is nothing to be gained from the event other than a day of fun, is it really worth the company’s investment of not only the event cost but the employee time in attending? Yes the event may help the team members bond with other individuals, but how does this equate to working together?

After I explain that I am not selling a training workshop, instead I want to know how to help the team develop and work better together using the best activities. I need this information to suggest fun or thought-provoking activities for the team to do during the event so that they make the most of their investment. Then the coordinator wants to know how I an do this so he/she can go back to the teams’ manager, sponsor, or leader to find out the answers needed to design the best of the team-building time. Questions I provide are along these lines:
  • Does the team have an issue that is keeping them from moving forward with their work? (Examples: accountability, attendance, attitude, communication, cooperation, conflict management, creativity, diversity, email etiquette, flexibility, meetings, presentations, time management, training plans, trust, recognition, or respect)
  • Does the team have a defined mission and goals or objectives? Do they have ground rules for working together and team member responsibilities? If not, would the event be a good place to include developing those as a team or sharing that information with them?
  • Does the team need to experience designing processes, planning quality improvement efforts, serving customer well, solving problems, risk-taking, or making decisions on their own?
After they take notes from our discussion or ask me to send the questions via an email, I ask “Will the management person sponsoring the team-building event be attending a portion of the day or participating along with the team?” If they are not planning to attend, I suggest they come to kick-off the session and set the stage for the day. Often the manager will agree to do a kick-off and many choose to come back at the end of the day to hear what the team members got from the team-building event. If they are planning to attend as a participant, I ask they arrive early so we can discuss ground rules before the team members arrive. 

Many times, I am pleasantly surprised by a manager or team leader who personally calls me back to discuss their actual needs for the team. Occasionally, I get a call back from the coordinator telling me the manager, sponsor, or leader wants to discuss with the team what they want to get out of the day. I think this is great and offer to send a listing team and member characteristics that the team may want to review to help them select categories for learning activities. Or if preferred, the team can download a team evaluation from my website and use the results from that to decide what they really need as a team to work better together. After a decision of what type of categories team-building should encourage, I begin working with the coordinator on event location, date, and agenda planning.

Does your company do annual events or more frequent team building activities? Are those team building activities or team training options producing the desired results? Are they worth the investment your company is making in its people? Add a comment to let me know what you think about team building events.

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Eloranta Berg said...

Wow..You really think about on how to manage it wisely,that was pretty awesome.

Costello Events Limited said...

Awesome Post!!
Strategic planning, problem solving and management are three major areas in which an employee should be capable. These potential might not be in everyone in a corporates.