Over the summer, a lot of us participated in some type of team building event. For most, the event is a positive experience that presents the opportunity to get to know your co-workers in a relaxed setting on a more personal level. This is exactly what the boss hopes will be the outcome for everyone.
However, many of these events turn into a chance to be out of the office with some wondering how early they can leave. Others see the event as the perfect time to get face time with the boss.
How do you make the event something that will be not only beneficial to the team as a whole but also enjoyable for everyone?
Part of the problem will always be the size of the team. It is almost impossible to make everyone happy, especially with a large team. Should you have a few events when it is a larger team? Maybe, but the comradery may not go as far as the boss had hoped.
Giving everyone $500 and telling them to spend it on something nice will give them an enjoyable experience but won’t increase comradery either.
So what do you do?
There are several elements that will make a successful team building event more likely.
- The team has to interact with each other and not just with the people they work with every day. This may seem obvious, but there are many events that don’t allow people to interact with those who they hardly know or with those who are new to the team.
- The event has to be away from the office. There are too many easy distractions and excuses available if the event is in the office. Someone always has one more call to make or task to complete. Also, the importance/specialness of the event is diminished if it is in the same place that you conduct business.
- Short of a family emergency, the boss has to be there early and stay until the last person leaves. If the boss doesn’t think it matters that they are there for the full event, neither will the rest of the team.
- Make it only a part of the day and give everyone the rest of the day off as a reward for everyone’s efforts. People will are less likely to look for excuses if they know they will only have to participate for part of the day and that the event has a definitive ending well before the end of the business day.
- The event should never be on a Monday. There is too much negative emotion associated with Mondays. The last thing you want is for someone to associate the negativity of Monday with your event.
- The event should never be on a Friday. Team members will be more likely to look for reasons to leave before the event is over. Also, there is less chance for people to talk about the good time they had and to increase comradery if they had a few days of not seeing each other get in the way.
- Find a way to include recognition and celebration of the Team and don’t bring in new or current work or other work tasks to this event. Take the time to be only about congratulations on a job well done. If you cannot find a way to include this, that’s OK as long as the event is something that team is accomplishing together.
- Plan events for different times of the year. Most businesses have a summer event and another for the Holidays. Most employees make great contributions to the business and the team throughout the year. Don’t be afraid to have more than two events and only at the times that most people expect them. Having more than two celebrations will also make the team more likely to talk about how much the boss appreciates the team.
Ideas that should bring your team closer together
First, donate a day of the teams time to a local charity, preferably where people have to work together to accomplish something. Nothing makes a group feel closer than if they are able to do something meaningful. That is kind of the point of the business setting, beyond getting paid and taking care of yourself and your family.
Several charities whether it is as large as The Make-A-Wish Foundation or Habitat for Humanity, or as small as a local book or coat drive, have several activities that involve cooperation between people. Yes, some people will be more involved than others, but all will be involved to make things happen and all should be proud of giving back to their community.
An added bonus would be if this is a charity that the boss is very interested in. It will help the team learn about what is important to the boss outside of the office.
Second, have a party to celebrate the achievements of the team as a whole and of some of the individuals on the team. Nothing feels as good as being recognized for the hard work you have put in and the things that you have achieved.
The party can be as informal as a picnic or as structured as an awards dinner. The Team will have a chance to get together outside of the office and learn about each other as well as get the chance to feel good about what they have done over the recent past. It also is a good time to reinforce what is important to the success of the whole team. Adding a theme, like a casino night or games, or God forbid, a 70s dress up party, will add an element that let’s everyone show off a part of their personality that might not get a chance to shine in the office.
Third, the team can take a class together, such as a cooking class and preferably not about a work skill. The class should pair up people who don’t work together frequently. The class will help people of all expertise levels to learn and participate together. At the end of the class, everyone will leave with a higher level of knowledge about something and will also give them a reason to talk to people about how they used their new skills.
What have been your favorite team building events?
Let us know in the comments below!