You’ve booked a great venue and a top notch facilitator for your team-building day. You’re planning an agenda to improve work relationships but your planning shouldn’t stop there. The month immediately following a team ‘away day’ is more important than the day itself. After all, if your team-building event included planning or goal setting activities, the most important work – implementation- gets done once you return to work.
Here are three steps you can take to ensure that your team-building day reaps bottom-line results.
1. Know the difference between having fun and impacting team dynamics
If team relationships are strained, treasure hunts or cooking classes aren’t going to make a difference. Sure, these activities are fun. And they do have their place as options for reinforcing harmonious group dynamics or allowing team members to experience some downtime together. But if you really need to rebuild positive team dynamics or sort out team conflict, consider using more robust facilitation activities. Some useful options include:
- Workshops based on exploring personality or behavioural preference tools. For example, the MBTI and DISC questionnaires provide useful starting-points for discussing the different work styles which might emerge in your team.
- Team story-telling as a tool for creating memorable action plans. Story-telling is far more dynamic than listing ideas on flipchart paper and typing them up later. It involves retelling the team’s history as a metaphor, designing the ‘happy ending’ for that metaphor and then translating the resulting story back into a memorable action plan.
- Setting team norms for assertive communication. This technique is particularly useful if your team has been experiencing conflict or demonstrating dysfunctional team dynamics.
- Team timeline activities. These provide a dynamic way to explore a team’s past in order to set the scene for strategic planning and collaborative problem-solving
- Customer focus groups. Well designed focus groups allow your team to interact directly with customer representatives and hear what they really think of your services or products. They also provide a safe space for exploring new ways to deliver those services or products. They shift the focus from ‘difficult customers’ to great service.
2. Dedicate the first day back to action
If you’re serious about getting results from a team building day, you need to make the first day back at work stand out as a starting point. Make it impossible for the team to return to status quo. Instead, spend the first day back at work doing things differently. Some ways to do this include:
- Redesigning workflows or procedures to match goals set during the team’s offsite day
- Implementing ideas generated from a customer focus groups
- Creating briefs, timelines and action plans for special projects generated during the team building day
- Designing posters or products for promoting the team’s norms
3. Create a concrete timeline for follow-up
Make it clear that the team building day was not an isolated event. This is important, because some team members may have experienced team building days which led nowhere in the past. So you need to send an unambiguous message that THIS day was different. Schedule follow-up days into the team’s calendar within 48 hours of returning to work. Ideally, you should schedule:
- A one hour review of the away-day within a week of returning to work
- A half-day progress report workshop three months after the team building event
- A full day planning workshop six months after the event
Remember that team building events are a significant investment. Getting the most from them involves engaging a skilled facilitator, planning workshop schedules carefully and building robust follow-up schedules. Need help planning YOUR next team building session? Contact Eleanor Shakiba for your free needs analysis session now.