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From the Blog:

Organizing a Team-Building Event

A team-building event can sharply divide opinion among both management and employees. Some see these activities as vital to strengthening the bonds between coworkers, making employees more effective and conscientious as members of a team. Others can view these exercises as a distraction that takes them away from important work that is only piling up while they are away from the office.

The effectiveness of a team-building event depends largely on the goal of the exercise. Team-building for its own sake can often lead to unfocused outcomes and actually create divisions between individuals or groups in the workplace.

Here are a few ideas that can help organizations create effective and purposeful team building events:

  • Identify the reason that you need a team-building event. Are different individuals, offices or divisions within your business experiencing a lack of communication or partnership? Is there a large change coming to your business (technology, merger, expansion, process innovation, etc.) in the near future? Have you recently added a new employee in a key position or a number of new hires who need to be integrated into the team? No matter the reason, know it before you begin planning the event.
  • Tailor the activity or activities of the event to the needs of your workplace. This can mean choosing a particular exercise that is designed to emphasize a skill or values that you want to illustrate to your team. Chances are that physical strength or athletic ability don't impact the day-to-day operations of your business, so give careful thought to something like a ropes course or a paintball war. The last thing you want is for your team building event to cause any of your employees humiliation.
  • Once you've identified the needs of your team, consider bringing in a professional team building consultant to help you choose the exercise, structure, and agenda. Your budget, size of the team, and amount of time you wish to spend will let you know if you should choose to hire someone to assist you. Many consultants will act as facilitators, freeing up your human resources manager to participate in the team building event.
  • Establish firm rules about the use of technology during the day. One of the greatest challenges is keeping your employees focused once the event begins. If budgetary or time constraints make it necessary to hold your exercise on-site, make it known that there are mandatory times where everyone is expected to be “unplugged” and off their mobile devices. Leaving the event to go back to their desks should be prohibited save in the greatest of emergencies. Let your team know that they are expected to inform clients in advance that they will be unavailable during the time of the event, and they should set their e-mail and voice mail to “away.” You can also set aside designated times when they can check e-mail and voice mail and respond to any urgent matters.

Team building events can vary widely depending on numerous factors, but following these simple guidelines can give you a strong foundation upon which to build one that is effective and meaningful.