Many teambuilding events can feel more like a yearly visit to the dentist… nobody really wants to go, the experience can be rather miserable, and participants are frequently relieved when it’s over.
Here are a few tips for planning an event your team will look forward to attending:
• Choose a neutral facilitator. By not putting the boss in charge, you can often level the playing field and receive more interaction.
• Select a creative location off-site. While hotels and conference centers are traditional locations, you may want to consider creative alternatives such as coffee shops, outdoor parks, or museums.
• Plan with purpose. Define specific goals that you want to accomplish, and develop a guide for achieving them. Allow plenty of time for each objective—overloading your agenda can cause stress for everyone involved.
• Reduce unrealistic expectations. While you may have a list of 20 topics you would like to cover, select a small handful of objectives that can be thoroughly discussed in the time allowed. Take advantage of this opportunity to fully involve your team.
• Set clear objectives. Circulate an agenda before the meeting to give participants an idea of what is planned. Even if you’ve planned surprise events, block the time on your agenda to avoid possible schedule conflicts.
• Assign team-building-related tasks to small groups in advance. Allow each team to take ownership in their ideas and present them at the teambuilding event.
• Engage new perspectives. Invite professionals from outside your business to speak about their knowledge and experience.
• Feed their stomachs to fuel their minds. Select a variety of appetizing food, refreshments, and snacks to keep everyone energized.
• Break frequently. By allowing frequent opportunities to use -the bathroom, check voice mail, grab snacks, etc., you can reduce interruptions during your schedule of events.
• Respect the time. If your meetings are scheduled to wrap up by 4 p.m., make sure you follow suit. Optional events, such as happy hour or evening meals, should be structured loosely to allow your team to come and go as they please.
• Have fun! Just because it is a business meeting doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
• Follow up. The end of a team-building event is really the beginning. Take thorough notes and follow up on your group’s discussions, concepts, and ideas. Establish a communication plan for posting the progress of initiatives that have been put into place. Seek ideas from your team for your next team-building event. Ask what they did and did not enjoy, and make the responses anonymous to receive the most honest feedback.
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