It’s widely understood that the strongest friendships are often formed either through high school, university or military service, times when we’re forced to rely and depend on people and they on us. Whether it’s a friend, colleague, or even a stranger, the trauma of war, the insecurity of adolescence and the stress of deadlines each semester, true friendships are forged through fire as the saying goes.
With this in mind, what can you do to ensure that you get the most out of a team building activity so that the bond between them grows ever stronger?
In order to best know what your team needs, you obviously need to understand the people in it. Who are they? What do they like to do outside of work? The answers to these kinds of questions will better help you make decisions that will not only have a higher initial approval by the group but help you best choose an activity that is not only accessible to everyone but also in line with the larger company vision, its values and culture.
2. Have an objective (and budget)
Planning should be easy once you know your team as individuals. But before you make an action plan think of what you want to accomplish by taking everyone out of the office.
What would axe throwing do? A bar night? How can you quantify success? Having an objective for an activity will not only better help you as an organizer pick something that can best achieve what you want, but it can also help eliminate options.
Once you know what you want to do for your team building event, establishing a budget becomes essential. While some would argue that budget should come first, having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish will allow you to get the most out of your resources, understanding that negotiation may come into play when finalizing events, especially larger ones, with vendors.
3. Choosing the activity
In a best-case scenario, you’re looking for activities that will help meet your end goals, ideally within your budget and desired time-frame. But if you find a bunch of activities that meet your requirements, which should you choose?
While it should be clear that you are more likely to get higher participation if the activity is something new and interesting, there are some other things to keep in mind when making a choice for a group booking or corporate event.
You should aim for activities where onboarding takes little time so everyone is kept engaged from the start and while it’s nice to have some competition, studies show that in most cases, collaboration trumps competition so activities, where people work together rather than against each other, should prove beneficial for the team dynamic.
If you want to break internal vertical barriers, activities that create a team dependence on each individual member are an easier way of discarding titles and ensure more direct and open communication. One way this can be achieved is by having people do things they have no expertise at. This is one reason escape rooms are so popular, despite not being suitable for large groups.
4. Go off-site
Yes, in-house parties can be inexpensive, casual ways of relaxing and getting to know people. For many, however, the office is associated with work – something alleviated by going off-site.
Doing so will not only allow many to relax but being away from work will allow those to leave work at work.
If you do go off-site, there are a few things that you should consider:
- Scheduling the activity within work-hours will ensure the highest participation but be considerate of people’s workloads. You don’t want to have people need to work evenings or weekends to make up for the lost time.
- Factor in travel time, as well as how will people get there.
- Lastly, provide food or snacks at your destination if possible. Not only does the prospect of food tend to soften people up, but the likelihood is also high that your event will fall towards the end of the workday. People are going to be hungry. But if you do choose to provide food, depending on the nature of the activity you might want to choose light and easy stuff as you don’t want people to get lethargic after eating.
5. Set expectations
In order to have a successful event, it’s important to ensure that everyone knows what they are getting into and are properly informed before the activity.
Insufficient information will have people make assumptions, good or bad. Let everyone know what you want to do when you want to do it. Based on your knowledge about your team, you can address any concerns that may arise prior to them doing so.
6. Team composition
Because small teams benefit from team building activities the most, you may want to keep the activities within small groups. Not only will their bonding be stronger, but because it will be easier to remember names, resulting in their communication being stronger as well.
Larger groups however often have a harder time bonding, especially if not everyone’s contribution can be measured. But by putting together people from various departments in smaller teams, or larger numbers in diverse groups, both will have a better appreciation of their colleagues as they work together.
Regardless of the activity you go for, the team has to be challenged. Through successful activity selection or team composition, you can have that challenging environment needed to foster a deepening of the relationship between team members.
As always, you want teams to work collaboratively but if you have opposing teams you should have them switch players every now and again so as not to create another “us vs them” scenario. It should all be in good fun, with a bit of a struggle.
The last but not least, feedback is crucial for long-term success. After the event, make time to talk to everyone who participated and get feedback on the event so you can be better prepared the next time.
To keep memories of the event fresh, placing photos in common areas in the office not only will act as positive reinforcement, but it can serve as a nice way to start conversations amongst team members. This will ultimately enhance the conversation about what worked and what could maybe be done differently.
With a proper feedback loop in place, you can have regular team building activities that everyone will enjoy and look forward to.
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Also, if you found this article useful, consider reading our blog here on the hottest ideas for team building events and exercises in Toronto.