Think HBR


Many businesses organise activities for their staff in an effort to build a more effective team, as a reward and to increase job satisfaction. If they are poorly organised, however, these activities can fail to produce these outcomes and even dampen morale if it is seen as just a work obligation.
The following tips will help you with planning your team building activities.
Set goals and a budget. What is the purpose? Is it to celebrate a significant business accomplishment, reward staff, let staff get to know each other better without work pressures, help staff see the ”bigger picture” or some other purpose? The activity needs to be selected to meet the goals and keep within budget.
Select an activity suitable for your whole team. If you have less active members, it is not a great idea for anything too strenuous. Don’t select an activity that is likely to have an extreme range in abilities. Don’t let the activity be overly competitive – you can have  winners if you want, but make sure that others don’t feel like losers.
Pick a convenient time. Employees will be most receptive to an activity that is during work hours and does not interfere with their personal time. When scheduling the activity, keep your employees' schedules and personal obligations in mind. If you have employees with children in day care or school, make sure that the team-building day does not interfere with their pick-up schedule or require them to plan additional childcare.
Ease work pressures. Make sure that you reduce the employees' workload that typically gets done during the scheduled team-building time so that they do not have to work nights or weekends to get their jobs done. You may need to hire temporary staff. Take into account the downtime when setting schedules and targets.
Consider help. Ask possible venues for tips, what has worked before etc. You can even consider hiring an external professional to organise the whole or some of the activities.
Don’t forget travel time. You may find a great location, but staff may not be happy if they have to travel an extra hour or two each way. If you are really set on a location a little more distant, consider hiring a mini-bus and also use the travel time efficiently.
Provide food. No one is happy if they are hungry or if finding something to eat is a chore.
Don’t be boring. Don’t bore staff with speeches or work-related talks.
The best activities are those a bit different, not something many of the staff do on a regular basis. Consider special challenges.
Encourage staff to mix. Forget about staff hierarchy. Make all staff feel like they are on an equal footing. If you have a large number of staff consider nametags with just their first name. If the activity involves teams, try to have teams comprise of staff members that normally don’t work closely.
Get post-event feedback. After the event, have employees provide anonymous feedback on the team building day. By knowing what your employees liked and disliked about the event, you can better plan team-building activities in the future. If you planned the day for a specific reason, evaluate the outcome after the event.