When and when not to use it.
They say there’s a time and place for everything, and as meeting planners, we need to know when to say “YES-let’s do it!” or “no-not this time” to the question that will inevitably come up at some point in our careers regarding the need (or not) to include a teambuilding activity at this year’s annual conference.
“At the start of the discussion, it’s important for a planner to determine why their company is proposing to do a teambuilding event. Does management want to create camaraderie, stir creativity or possibly celebrate some successes? These are all very different and significant reasons for hosting an event that in its essence will force people to come together and ‘play nice’ with each other. The trick is getting them all to understand and appreciate that their (individual) differences are what cause their success,” said Fisher.
So what does this mean to planners? Ask questions before committing. Put on your detective hat and get to the source of who in your company wants to do the teambuilding exercises and what their reasons are for needing the activity. Once you determine who the players are and what the desired goal will be, you can start to brainstorm for creative ways to put this function together. Sound familiar? It should, because as planners these are the same steps we all go through to create successful conferences and events, with or without official teambuilding activities. Know your audience and anticipate what their goals and needs are, then build your activities around that body of information. If it sounds like Meeting Planning 101 it probably is to many of you reading this.
Successful teambuilding can go beyond the search for your people to ‘play nice’ with each other. Maybe your goal is to have a feel good moment for the company and bring everyone together for a community service project. Maybe you need to break up some tight knit circles within pre-established work groups. Maybe you just plain want to have some fun, and if that’s the reason, good for you! There are so many different reasons for hosting a teambuilding program, but in order to produce the best results from it you must understand the need and set some goals.
On the flip side, teambuilding activities are not always the right answer to a company’s quest for bringing the troops together, so knowing when to say “no thanks, we shouldn’t be trying to do this right now” is also a good thing. When to say no? How about when everyone is so overworked that forced play will only make them angrier about spending too much time on company projects? How about when what really needs to be done is for someone in management to take the non-team players out in the hallway and have a good talk with them about their personal attitudes? Situations like these - and plenty of others - do not necessarily scream “let’s all come together and have a company teambuilding love fest” as much as they read “somebody at the top needs to take control of this place before we self-combust!” So before you enter the world of company teambuilding know this: if you put the group activities out there for the wrong reasons it could backfire on you by producing unhappy employees and that’s never a good thing.
The moral of the story is to do your research and understand the reasons behind the need or desire to hold a teambuilding event BEFORE the deed is done. That assures that everyone will still be playing nice together at the end of day and isn’t that what you were aiming for to begin with?