One of the chief tasks of successful leaders is to foster cohesion at your place of business. A tried and true method is through team building exercises. It's tough to find time to plan engaging activities on top of your regular duties at work. But, going into it with the right mindset and a little pre-planning will allow you to organize fun, memorable events that bear fruit in the workplace. Here's how it's done.
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Keep Your Expectations Realistic
The idea of team building is to foster an atmosphere of cohesion on the job, boost workplace morale and increase productivity. The word that gets tossed around a lot in team building circles is ‘trust'. However, it is unrealistic to expect that a diverse group of people is going to magically feel like family after one painting party or cooking class.
That's one of the potential downsides of planning one-time team building activities. Bringing your team closer is an ongoing process that requires sustained effort and follow-up. Choose a venue that provides a fun atmosphere that encourages teamwork and implements follow-up activities at work to reinforce the objectives of the team building exercise.
Keys to Successful Team Building
Planning a fun event is nice, but it's unlikely to have a long-term impact. If the activity is a bust, or if it is inconvenient or costly, it may even have the opposite effect than you intended. Strategic planning that incorporates input from the people who stand to benefit most, your team, allows the bonding to begin long before the actual session(s). It also gives your staff the feeling of really being invested in the outcome.
1. Set your goals: The short-term goal is to organize a fun event, but who should it benefit and what do you hope they'll get out of it? Is it a reward for reaching a company goal or are you trying to deal with a specific problem that's affecting the workplace? Will it be a company-wide event or just for the people in your department? Once you answer the who, what, and why, you can move on to the when, where and how.
2. Create a planning team: This is where true team building can begin. Putting a planning group together from among the participants will allow you to build a consensus among the team members, and you can delegate tasks to make the whole planning stage more efficient. You can accomplish this in several ways: send out an email, use a signup sheet or appoint people to help.
3. Establish a timeline: The further ahead you begin planning your event, the better. You have the task of coordinating a time that doesn't interfere with personal schedules or disrupt work. You'll also need time to find a venue and implement the details. If you want to book the likes of Cozymeal, the largest marketplace for team building cooking classes, make sure you contact them in advance, otherwise, you might not be able to book the most popular classes such as Italian cooking or sushi making.
4. Decide who will attend: The larger the group, the more difficult it will be to accommodate everyone. The size of the group also affects the choice of venue, type of activity and budget. Canoeing for 100 staff members is unrealistic, but it's fine for a department with 10 employees. Another consideration: is attendance mandatory or voluntary?
5. Create an event budget: If your company is tasking you with planning the event, there should be some funds set aside to cover the cost. If you're the boss, you need to determine how much you can invest, and how much money out of pocket attendees might be expected to kick in. Ideally, you or your company should cover the entire cost, especially if attendance is mandatory. Other things to take into consideration when budgeting:
- Transportation and parking
- The cost of the venue, including permits or tickets
- Food and beverages, if they aren't included as part of a package
6. Pick a venue: Once you have your budget, goals and guest list set, choosing a venue will be easier. There are many businesses that specialize in hosting company groups for team building exercises, which may take some of the pressure for devising a specific activity off of your shoulders.
If you're going to use a professional event planning or hosting service, the following information will help ensure that it's a good fit for your budget and purposes:
- Will their venue accommodate your group size?
- Does it fit in with your budget?
- Is the activity compatible with your goals and group dynamic?
- Is the activity amenable to followup activities or ongoing sessions?
- Are the location and time convenient and accessible for your team members?
You don't have to subject your employees to silly exercises that are time wasters rather than team builders. Combine the tips outlined above with a little ingenuity to keep your staff motivated over the long haul.