Planning a Team-building Getaway
It seems the term “team-building” has become quite ubiquitous. Many companies are just doing it because it’s “trendy” and because it’s what all the cool Silicon Valley start-ups are doing. However, if we get pat this cynicism, there is a lot of utility in team-building activities, especially if they are honest.
Now, we may have gone a bit ahead of ourselves. For those who don’t know, team-building is any communal activity done by a number of employees who work at the same company (or department). Its goal is to increase morale and productivity, and generally create a positive and almost family-like atmosphere at work. While the concept is quite simple, that doesn’t mean you can just enter it willy-nilly. A team-building getaway that’s obviously going through the motions will just demoralize people and make the manager in charge dishonest and unprofessional.
The Benefits of Team-building. The benefits of team-building are manifold. If you do this right, you will see a huge increase in productivity and morale, with good reason. By going through some obstacle or unique experience, your team will become closer, they will have something to share besides work. It will also show them that you, their manager and/or boss, actually care about them. Furthermore, an escape room, or some other kind of mental training exercise, will boost their problem-solving skills and may even increase their creativity.
How To Start. Planning a team-building getaway is not as simple as booking three hours at a local laser tag venue. You need to do this properly, you need to organize around numerous schedules (what’s the point if half your team can’t make it), and you need it to be something that everyone would enjoy.
- Decide who gets to decide. Will you be the only one who’s going to plan and do everything? You and an assistant? Delegate it to another manager? Or is it going to be a team effort? While you should, of course, decide for yourself, we advise that you don’t do it alone, but having the whole department involved is also not the smartest of ideas. We suggest you form a small committee and then get to work.
- Next, be very, very clear on what you want to achieve. Do you want this team-building thing to focus on improving the department’s interpersonal relationships? Or maybe you want them to be more creative and innovative? Perhaps you want to get them to a seminar, and then sweeten the deal with some fun activity? Whichever one you choose, you need to choose it at the beginning, otherwise you will just end up spinning your wheels.
- Next, take into account the number of people you want to take, the price and how long will it last. Furthermore, the actual location (not just activities) is important. You can, of course, always go local.
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Choosing the proper Getaway. Now, actually getting a bit more specific here. First, you should think of a venue that can suit your needs. If it’s a smaller group of people, you can get a fancy corporate accommodation. If you want to skimp money on the hotel, you might as well not even go, since your employees will be too annoyed to do even a bit of team-building.
We also suggest you go to a place that has dedicated team-building hosting and team-building retreats. These kinds of places will even do part of the planning process for you. Also, try some remote, secluded areas and avoid touristy and popular resorts. This is supposed to be fun, but it’s not a vacation. Check if the venue offers its own accommodations, or do you need to go to a hotel. What activities do they offer? This can be sports, ice skating, paintball (we know, it’s a team-building cliché, but its super fun), a camping trip, might as well sign up for Tough Mudder – whatever you want.
There are hundreds of activities, and there is no point in us listing all of them out for you. However, there are a couple of common things you could always include. First, have a set (but not too strict) schedule. This will keep things flowing, without you missing out on the fun, and also without driving your guys crazy. Next, hiring an instructor is an effective way if your people (or you) have the butterflies and can’t really relax. An instructor gives a sense of control and stability for people who are uncomfortable doing new things. They may feel safer if, for example, there is a seasoned kayaking teacher out there to bail them out if push comes to shove.
Motivational speakers are a good option, just be warned – they can backfire terribly. You need to know your own team well, as well as getting good references and even a video of the speaker in action. A cringe-inducing speaker will sink morale, and you’ll end up looking like Michael from The Office.
I hope this post alleviated any qualms or anxiety relating to team-building. It’s not as scary or as difficult as it sounds, and if you do it right, you will certainly reap the benefits. Just remember two crucial things: be honest, and know your team. Everything will go smoothly if you’re genuine.