Why I Should Spend My Time Planning a Team Building Event?
Start with Why.
Why do one of these "team building" events? To thank the team? To incentivize the team? To make work fun? To get to know each other? Because we are supposed to? It's good optics and makes others think we care? It gives us something to post about?
If its to check a box - your team will smell that turd (click it I dare you) a mile away and I promise you it will have the opposite effect. I'll never forget when I worked at a company whose end of the year team building was an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for 45 minutes, flanked by a few speeches that were intended to make us feel like we were a "family" and appreciated. Maybe we did bond a bit as we went through the tragic event together, who knows?
You are probably here because you realize the power of effective teams, and the people that comprise them. It's no secret, teams that work well together do better. Why do they work well together? Because they want to - by developing personal emotional connections with teammates, it naturally causes a team member to want to help, to find solutions, vs. reasons why something cant be done. So, how do we break that shell and truly get to know each other? Enter - (real) team building.
For the money guy out there - we (actually, MIT. Yes that MIT) break it down to ROI. Companies with high employee experience had 25% higher profit margin than competitors. The thing is, you KNOW this to be true- think about people you work well with...how much more productive can you be?!
Got it. Employee Experience = important.
How do we improve employee experience? Well, we spend a shit ton of time at work, with co-workers...it would be nice if we enjoyed their company right? Gallups Q12 survey reiterates the importance of having friends at work. So lets break down barriers and get to know each other!
You must be drinkin' our Kool-Aid if you're still with us. Youre in on the value team building provides. Now what makes a good team building event that produces results? Here is our cheat sheet of ingredients, starting with the most important ingredients:
Something to DO: If you plan an outing solely centered around food and drink, your team will find every excuse under the sun to avoid the INEVITABLE small talk, awkwardly trying to fill the air with words until its allowable to sneak out. Give your team a variety of activities- the more unique the better. This facilitates engagement and gets people out of their shell. Less shell = more personal connection = building blocks of a team (people). See above.
Something Unique: Bowling (that's an example of NOT unique BTW)- we've probably all done it for an outing because it's easy, not because it's good at building the team. Is it memorable? Nah. Good for checking the box though, if you want the aforementioned turd smell wafting down your hallways! The more unique, the easier it is to get people excited/engaged. THATS where the barriers get broken down, we see co-workers as humans and the real magic happens.
Clear Objectives: Are you aiming to improve communication, enhance problem-solving skills, or leadership ability in a couple of hours? Forget all this crap to be honest- nobody is going to improve their problem-solving skills by trying to untangle themselves from a human knot. The goal can be simple - develop personal connections and have fun. Ahhhh, doesn't that feel better? Pressure is off.
Inclusivity: Every team member should feel included and valued during the outing. Activities should cater to a diverse range of skills, interests, and physical abilities. No one should feel sidelined or uncomfortable. Making everyone participate in a single activity just because that's what "most" employees enjoy misses an opportunity to truly engage every team member.
A Safe Environment: We're not talking physical safety- that's a prereq. Psychological safety is just as important. Team members should feel free to express their ideas, ask questions, and encouraged to make mistakes without fear of retribution. This fosters open communication and genuine collaboration.
Professional Facilitation: If you "Wing it", it may show. If it doesn't, great! But you must ask yourself, how much better it COULD have been with some proper facilitation! The things you are great at, were you great at them the first time, or 10th, or 100th? How much better are you the 1000'th time? There's value in off-loading to the pro that's honed it.
Balance: Keep the focus on the team. The goal is team building, but that will come naturally if you provide unique experiences. Get pushy with it and out'll come the "I've gotta pick my kids up from practice" excuses flying in from left field. We prefer the "Please take us for another lap!" type comment at the end of our events.
Feedback Loop: Learn from your people during and after the event. Find out what they want more of AND less of, tying the objective back toward developing connections.
Lists don't HAVE to have 10 things. Its OK, guys. But for those who need that, lets go with 9) food and 10) drink. Please make sure food and drink are readily available for the squad. As it goes "An army marches on its stomach".
Long list, right? There CAN be a lot that goes into an event, or not. It takes a lot of work to make an event go well, and your crew at The Hangar has been dialing in team-building events for over a decade here in Downtown Indy. Hit us up (ahem "Please feel free to inquire today" for Senor Executive Stuffy) and let us go to bat for you. This is what we love and it shows in our product. I promise we will hit it out of the park for your crew like we do for ours.