We've had clients who come to us requesting for teambuilding proposals before coming back to us two weeks later saying that their company has decided to cut-back leaving room only for a weekend getaway. Why does this happen? Here's an article adapted from Training Oasis.
It's simple. Too much focus on the activity, not enough focus on results, tie-in to the business, and return on investment. It's happened in organization after organization. One day the money is flowing freely. Eventually, someone in the executive suite says "Hey wait a minute, we've spent RM1 million(or RM5 million and even more when one factors in the indirect costs like salaries for the participants) for drumming, hot air ballooning, paint ball, or go karting. Where's the value? How much time was spent debriefing the activity and drawing links to our business? Were business or planning exercises part of these sessions? How did this further the business? How did this improve performance or team interaction?" Suddenly, "poof" the money is gone and suddenly team building is something we used to do.
If you want to ensure that your budget for team building gets cut, treat it like a commodity. Give the most inexperienced person in your team the responsibility for contacting prospective suppliers. Give them very little guidance, after all you're busy right? They'll focus strictly on the fun activities and short list based on what sounded like the most "fun". They won't be able to answer questions like "What are your objectives for this session?", "What major challenges is your team facing?" and "What specific improvements do you want to see in organizational and team performance?" They'll shortlist and present options to you based on what sounds like fun or what's cheapest. When making your selection, go for the latest fad, what's hot and the flavour of the month. Eventually, the money for team building will disappear from your company's budget as it has in other organizations. It's guaranteed. On the other hand, if you really want team building to be a value added, give careful attention to clarifying your objectives and allow sufficient time for defining your team building strategy and planning.
As mentioned in our previous post, before you plan your corporate team building session or executive retreat, it is important to be clear about your objectives. Remember you need the steak AND the sizzle. It's an organization you're running not a social club so keep that in mind when determining the best course of action. Far too often, companies end up disappointed in team building sessions and corporate retreats because expectations were not clearly identified and articulated.
Examples of Team Building Objectives
•Forge stronger alliances between geographically dispersed teams •Fine-tune your marketing and sales strategy •Reduce friction and "turf wars" between organizational levels and departments. •Improve communication between teams and departments •Improve your decision making process •Identify strategies to reduce red tape and duplication of effort •Brainstorm and generate new strategies to resolve business issues and overcome challenges •Manage projects more effectively even within tight timeframes Then, think carefully about whether or not team building is really appropriate. Select your programme based on your objectives not just because a particular activity sounds "cool".
There is a place for team recreation, socials, picnics, etc. The key is to be clear about what you're doing. Don't call it team building just to have an excuse to party or next year maybe that budget will disappear. Here at BEST EVENTS each and every one of our team building sessions and accelerated learning programmes is LOADED with the "fun factor". However, unless someone has hired us strictly for recreation, its fun with a purpose. Why gather all of these people together, pay money to stay at a resort or rent meeting space at a hotel if your goal is strictly "fun". Order a pizza, go bowling, go out for dinner and then salsa dancing, or go to an amusement park. It's a lot cheaper.
Anne Thornley-Brown M.B.A., President Executive OasisInternational
Toronto Based Consulting Firm Specializing in Business Team Building, Executive Retreats & Incentive Travel
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