Why Don’t We Put Teambuilding First?

Why Don’t We Put Teambuilding First?

I wish I would have listened to my suppliers about teambuilding activities. Many companies feel the need to have a teambuilding component, to have a “legitimate” sales or all-employee meeting.

When watching a teambuilding event, I am never a participant. I love it when the “nerdy underdog” becomes the leader, or the shy administrative assistant becomes a sultry singer or dancer.

Teambuilding activities encourage employees to showcase a new set of skills.

Think about the timeline for your program: there’s the opening reception; next day breakfast opening reception; maybe the CEO speaks; there’s lunch, breakouts and dinner on their own. The second day is when the teambuilding appears on the timeline. But what if the teambuilding activity was first?

What would happen if the participants were to create a team that very first night or just be introduced to other team members? From that moment on the dynamic of the event would change. Employees would be meeting and interacting with “new people” and embracing a team spirit from the start.

New employees would suddenly find, “their people” and not feel so lost or left out.

Teambuilding Is All About Development

John Chen, aka the Big Kid, is CEO at Geoteaming, where he explains that entertainment is focused on how much fun you can have. Education is typically focused on how much you can get your team to think differently after the event. Meanwhile, development is focused on how or how much you can get your team to behave differently after the teambuilding activity, depending on your group’s goals.

Development will have the highest ROI, yet most meeting planners start with entertainment. Check out Geoteaming’s research paper on how to maximize your teambuilding investment for more details.

According to Brandi Tice, CMP, and “heromaker” at Play with a Purpose, the ROI a meeting professional values is building relationships among their attendees. That often includes improving communication and problem-solving skills within their teams. When Play With a Purpose organizes a community “give back” activity, the client leaves feeling good about doing something for the community.

Collaboration Is Key for Exceptional Teambuilding

With a “let’s get it right attitude” and focus on value, Chen and Tice both agree, the earlier the meeting professional shares goals, objectives, budget and profiles of participants, the easier the ability to collaborate and make the best use of the time during a teambuilding activity at an event.

The ability to dive deeper with the meeting professional and uncover the implied needs—from what you have done in the past that has been successful to the corporate culture of the company—is a bonus.

Tice added that co-creating with the client is a huge part of the narrative.

“We find most people believe that teambuilding is scavenger hunts and boat races, sometimes it is,” she said. “But we can also educate their attendees through interaction and fun.”

Catering to Different Learning Styles

“Today we have five generations in the work force,” Chen said.

“I have taken training courses from experts like Anna Liotta from Resultance and have had the opportunity to structure teambuilding for multi-generations,” he added. “I’m excited for Geoteaming as it has something for everybody, from high-tech apps to analog problem solving to complex strategy to artistic photos and videos. This means this event has something to engage multiple styles on a team.”

John Chen said gamification is an evolving trend to apply game mechanics to non-game areas like conferences. “Teambuilding is really gamification in disguise, we have 21 years of experience with gamification and in the past 8 years we have applied it to meetings and conferences.”

According to a latest poll, while more than 50% of meeting planners have heard of gamification, less than 10% have actually used it in their meetings. A great way to increase engagement!

Imagination Moves Teambuilding Forward

Imagination, drones and videos are slowly becoming part of the building blocks for the future. Paintball, tug of war and laser tag will soon or may already be part of the history of evolution of teambuilding.

Tice is proud of taking her clients’ goals and having them come to life through interactive events.

“I’m proud that I’m still walking around every day with an idea I created on paper 21 years ago,” Chen said, while adding that he cannot believe his luck to be doing what he enjoys. “I love the meetings business and delivering a meeting experience that is high energy and high engagement. Most of all, I’m proud of all of the people I’ve gotten to work with and become friends with over the years.”

5 Best Practices to Plan an Awesome Teambuilding Activity or Event

  1. Meet with your teambuilding partner at the beginning stage of your meeting or event.
  2. Be honest with your budget, goals and objectives and expected ROI.
  3. Embrace new technology and gamification.
  4. Know the profiles of your participants and the corporate culture.
  5. Realize there are five generations in the workplace who are all at various fitness levels.

Have a teambuilding activity in your future? What steps will you take to incorporate this knowledge? Also, if you’ve witnessed any exceptional teambuilding activities, please share them in the comments!

Posted by Lynne Wellish

Lynne Wellish

Lynne Wellish, CMP, CHSE, CHO is an award-winning hospitality industry trainer and speaker.

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