Team building activities help teams learn and grow. It is important to educate teams in teaming concepts and help them with work processes during all the team-building stages. For those leading teams, a few tips on planning a team building activity can be instrumental to the success of the team.
First, determine the purpose of the team building activity to determine if it can be part of a meeting or should be a separate event. Is the activity to introduce a topic, communicate a point, improve relationships, review previous training or teach a new technique? All of these can be done in a meeting as long as a safe environment and enough time is provided. Otherwise plan a special event so that other work does not interfere with the learning process.
Decide how much time to spend on the team building activity and when it would be best to do it. If the activity is to be part of a team meeting, plan it for the appropriate spot on the specific meeting agenda. At the beginning of the agenda is a good time for “getting to know you” type of activities and icebreakers, or revisiting points from a recent training course. If a non-controversial topic is to be presented or a new technique is to be taught during a few minutes of the meeting, those can fit anywhere within the agenda where it needs to occur. For example if a new decision making process is to be taught, explain it just before the team needs to use it to make a decision. Applying techniques immediately to work makes them more meaningful. Introducing new training concepts that are not to be used within the meeting should happen near the end of the meeting time.
If the time/date for the team building should be outside of a regular team meeting, plan a special training session or team-building event. This will require extra work by a team member or the leader to find a good date and a location that meets the needs of the activities to be done. Decide on activities before choosing a location or rescheduling may become necessary in order to meeting physical requirements. In selecting an activity for the event or training, take into consideration any physical limitations of team members. When planning a multi-exercise team-building event, activities that every team member can participate in should be considered before those that may require a member to “sit out” during the exercise because it may make them to feel excluded.
Find the activities or exercises that best make the intended training point or exemplifies the desired team concept. Then narrow down the selection list to which ones maybe best to use based on the materials necessary, the time available, relevancy to particular team, and fun factor. It is a success key for team-building events to be fun as well as informative. In meetings, it is nice to have a fun activity but relevancy to work at hand will mean more to the team, so aim for relevant first and both whenever possible.
Before the date of the meeting, training session, or team-building event: decide who will facilitate, invite participants, provide the agenda if appropriate, and gather necessary supplies. If it is a special session rather than a team meeting, it may be more fun to surprise the team with the agenda at the beginning instead of in advance. If facilitating the activity, arrive early and be prepared with all necessary materials. If someone else is to facilitate, then make sure they understand the expectations they are to meet, as well as when to be there and where to go. It may be beneficial to have someone from outside the team facilitate if the activity requires special training, facilities, or materials that a member of the team does not possess.
Use these tips when planning to do any type of team activity. Continual learning will motivate the team to contribute even better results as they mature and move through various stages.