How to Create a Great Team Building Event
Need a great team building event? Successful team building requires more than just trust falls and singing “Kum Ba Yah." Here's how you can do it.
Need a great team building event? Successful team building requires more than just trust falls, singing “Kum Ba Yah,” or being the fastest group to beat an escape room. Sure these things are fun, and there is definitely a place for fun in team building. However, effective team building helps the team better achieve their goals as a group.
Keep in mind that team building events use precious time and other material resources. Thus, events should demonstrate value to the organization. That’s often difficult because team building deals with so-called “soft skills.” And, measuring soft skills can be difficult.
Follow this process to create a team building event with a definable return on investment.
First of all, don’t make the decisions by yourself. Start by finding a collaborator or representative from each of the interest groups that you want to connect. For example, to build connections between team members from multiple sites, include a spokesperson from each of those locations. If you are a school administrator trying to create a teacher-parent event, then be sure to get input from both teachers and parents. Do you want to create an event that improves communication between your sales and engineering teams? Then make sure both teams have representatives present, because these two groups can see things really differently. For team building, those different perspectives are needed.
Next, decide on a laser-focused purpose for the event. Is this primarily about having fun? Getting to know each other? Understanding how each other’s work impacts the organization? Improving communication processes? Once you define the purpose, then you can think about activity.
After defining the purpose, ask your planning group two questions. (1) What event(s) will help us accomplish that purpose, and (2) how will we know we’ve been successful? Even something as simple as hosting a lunch event can have success metrics. When developing these metrics, be sure to go beyond simple “satisfaction” with the event. Develop a short list of questions that measure the focus of the event. For example, if you are hosting a lunch and learn event, don’t just ask participants if they liked the event. Instead, ask them what they learned. Likewise, if you are hosting a “get to know you” event, ask participants who they got to know better or what new information they discovered about their team mates. If your event is about improving communication skills, ask participants to write at least one commitment for how they will communicate differently based on the event. If the goal is simply to build relationships and have fun, ask participants to report one new relationship they developed or a fun memory they made.
Once you are clear on the event’s goal, methods, and measurements, you are ready to carry out the event and measure effectiveness. Ask participants to complete a survey at the end of the event before they leave. To make surveys easier to complete, keep them short and focused. Three or four open ended questions should do the trick. Report the results back to your planning team and they can make suggestions for future events.
When you complete those four steps, you will have a good mix of ideas, some measure of buy in from all interest groups, and a good way to report the success of the event to your supervisors or stakeholders.
Here’s the key idea: focus on the process, not just the event. The process of creating the event can be just as much of a team-builder as the event itself.