The secret to building a great team is to recognise that the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.
Super-stellar teams reach heights of achievement that individual team members could never achieve if working outside the context of that team. This powerful dynamic rarely occurs by accident. Whether by deliberate design or simply the result of countless iterations, the one consistent factor that gels great teams together is the ability to communicate and work well with each other.
Good managers know this and it is one of the primary reasons that the team-building industry is worth billions of dollars per year. Throwing a working team together in situations intended to get them bonding may sound easy but can very quickly turn into a disaster if not designed or implemented correctly.
This checklist is intended for use by those intending to organise their own activity as well as those hiring external facilitators.
Naturally, the first step is to know why you’re running the activity in the first place. If you don’t have a clear intention for the activity, it will quickly become an expensive and pointless exercise. Clarify the purpose of your activity by asking yourself three simple questions: 1) What problem am I trying to solve? 2) How will this activity solve the problem? 3) What features does this activity need to have to solve this problem?
Once you have identified the need for the activity, be very clear about the expected goals and aims of the event. Going into a team-building activity without explicit goals is like playing a football game where players throw the ball around but don’t try to score any points. Based on the problem you identified in Step 1, identify three primary objectives for your event.
This is the fun part! Research activities that you feel will help you achieve the goals stated in step 2. Google is your friend here; you can find plenty of fun and interesting activities online. This will take a lot of time however and you may struggle to design the activity in such a way that it produces results.
If you would prefer to delegate this part to an external agency, there are many options to choose from and will likely save you a lot of time, pain and resources. Each vendor will have a specific set of skills and be able to help you address specific problems. For example, as feedback gamification experts, WeQ can facilitate an activity which will solve the problem of teams not communicating well however we probably can’t facilitate an activity to help you solve say, employees arriving to work late all the time.
It’s crucial that you choose your external vendor wisely. By stating your goals in the previous step, you will have a much clearer idea of what activity will best help you achieve them. You’ll also avoid the tentacles of team-building facilitators who will try to sell you an activity that won’t actually help you address the identified problem.
Just as your business activities have KPI targets that you need to meet, so too do your team-building activities. Based on the goals you’ve outlined in Step 2, develop a set of KPI’s that will reflect whether or not your activity achieved what it set out to do. Make sure these KPI’s are measurable, whether that’s through team surveys or another metric that is relevant to your goals. For example, if your goal was to improve the feedback channels within your team, you could send out a survey which measures communication points to your team before and after the activity and compare their scores. WeQ can provide you with a visual representation of your team’s strengths and weaknesses which, when used in conjunction with this kind of a survey, will give you a deeper level of data and understanding about your team that would be difficult to glean otherwise.
We cannot stress this enough. Ask your team for feedback about the activity proposed. The internet is littered with examples of team activities gone horribly wrong (we collected them here :-) and the last thing you want is to be another cringe-worthy story added to the pile. If you have good feedback and communication channels within your team, this will be a fruitful exercise. In many teams, open communication is difficult and employees can often hide what they really think. This post will give you a better understanding of how you can overcome this
It can be tempting to finish the activity, call it a day and continue like you always have. But this would be a giant mistake. Capitalise on the gains you’ve made by keeping a meticulous record of what happened during the activity, how your employees interacted with the activity and what the outcomes were. Track as many metrics as is necessary to gain a full picture of the results of the activity. The activity itself should have had a degree of flexibility built into it to allow for the group to naturally move in a direction that will help them achieve the goals stated. You’ll want to have someone who is not directly involved in the activities to keep a watch of how the day went and keep a record of interesting observations they make throughout the day. In addition to quantitative methods of measuring results, this qualitative approach will give you a more nuanced understanding of whether the activity was a success. If participants were asked for ideas throughout the event, these need to be dealt with constructively and not simply ignored once the activity is over. Develop action plans immediately after the activity to ensure that all learnings, feedback and advice are acted upon. This is the most essential aspect of the entire process because without recording and following up on the results of the activity, you may as well have not run it in the first place. Be proactive and you’ll be guaranteed to see positive results from your event.