20 do’s and don’ts for team building events

Over the years I’ve organised a variety of team building events from week-long forums to after work drinks in the local pub. I would imagine that most assistants have been asked to arrange something for their team as we do tend to be the focal point for social activities in the office so tips for team building events will come in handy. It is such a great achievement when we manage to create something that works well and everyone had a great time. It is also so important that we get team building events right. The right experience can increase overall team performance, enhance job satisfaction, encourage cooperation with colleagues and broaden the goals and objectives of the overall company. However, if they are badly organised they achieve nothing while costing the company a small fortune. So here are my tips for team building events.

Do use team building events to solve any problems faced within the team. Link the challenges faced by the team with the challenges you set them during the event.

Don’t create events that are too physically demanding for any team members. I’ve done this before and realised very early on that the fitness levels of some team members meant they couldn’t participate and were left out of the event. Exactly the opposite of what we wanted to achieve! Physical activities can be memorable events, but set the right level of fitness and make sure everyone can be included.

Do ask for feedback from the event. If you have organised drinks in the pub ask a few attendees if they are enjoying themselves and if they want the drinks to become a regular thing. If you have organised an away day ask the delegates to complete a feedback form and do follow up on what they have to say. Ensure your managers see what has been achieved and what requires additional work.

Don’t make the event all about work, work, work. Yes, this is important, but it is also important that the team enjoy each other’s company and have the chance to relax.

Do have a mixture of tasks, some for fun and others that are more challenging. Do remember to create a balance between the two so that the overall message isn’t lost amongst all of the fun or all of the difficult aspects of the event.

Don’t forget that team building events are the same as other events and still require objectives and a budget.

Do think about hiring a professional to help with the facilitation of the event. It is sometimes very useful to have someone outside of the company able to help with the organisation on the day so that every member (including yourself) can get involved with the activities.

Don’t have the event in your office. If you can afford to go off-site, do so, if you don’t have the budget, try and find an area in your building as far away as possible from your department. If you have to work on building your team then I highly, highly recommend you do not do it in the office. People do need to be removed from the workplace so that they can focus without interruption and can mentally clear their mind from the usual work issues.

Do make the event theme as inspirational as you can. The main objective of a team building event is to inspire the team to work well together so do ensure you keep this in mind as you work on the organisational aspects of the event.

Don’t just stick to the same old tired team building activities. There are loads of exciting and innovative things you can do with your team, spend ten minutes on the internet and you will see there are so many different options. A great example would be rather than heading to the pub after work arranges a wine tasting lesson instead. Something a bit different to the usual Thursday night drinks.

Do keep everyone in the team involved in the creation of the event and get everyone interested and ready for the event once the day arrives. Remember, no one likes forced fun, so do make sure all of the team are aware of what is expected of them before they arrive.

Don’t have role plays! There must be dozens of different ways you can get the team to interact with each other or work through an issue. No one I’ve ever met likes doing role plays… ever!

Do take photos and videos of the event and circulate them after the event has finished. This a great way to jog your colleagues’ minds, remind them they did enjoy the event and an easy way to follow up on feedback.

Don’t just assume a team building event will solve all of the department’s problems; it won’t. But used in the right way a team building event can be a great foundation for resolving issues.

Do make use of a commitment card or action plan. Ask attendees to present their actions to the rest of the group so that they are committing in front of each other to change and help the team move forward.

Don’t forget how important space is for team building events. If you have everyone crammed into one room and ask them to do something creative, chances are they won’t come up with anything particularly great. Ensure there is enough space for team work, individual groups to go off and work together away from other groups etc. Etc. Also, ensure there is enough equipment for the team to do everything they need.

Do leave some space on the agenda for the team to discuss any problems they have faced. If the agenda is packed full of tasks and activities the team may not be able to air the issues they have. Also, there may be issues your managers are unaware of that will only come to the forefront if the team are giving enough time to raise them.

Don’t scrimp on rewards, prizes or fun treats for the team. If you are having the team stay overnight at a hotel see if you can get a hard-working member of the team a nice spa treatment or bottle of champagne as a prize.

Do formally capture all the work that has been achieved during the event. If there are ten flip charts worth of material, someone will need to type this up and send it around to the team. This, by the way, will probably be you! But it is a worthwhile task.

Don’t just have one team building event and think that is enough. Try and hold a few a year, so that the good work you’ve done during the initial event is continued throughout the year.