Shunning the stereotypes of team building

For some people the phrase “team away day” sparks a sense of dread, as visions of organised fun and team building exercises fill their heads. Trying to get people to operate as a team is a difficult exercise as anyone will tell you, so any help with this can be seen as extremely valuable.

Thanks to well observed sketches from the likes of The Thick Of It, away days have gained a bit of an unfair reputation in the last couple of years. If you want to try and get your employees working as a single unit, here’s a few things to consider.

Fun builds value

When people are having a good time, they tend to let their guard down and will be more susceptible to the wider ideas you’re trying to show them with a team building day. So while you might think that having a serious activity would appear to be more relevant on the surface, something that people will enjoy whilst doing will provide more long term value.

Dependant on what your budget is, think less about being in a room trying to put positive brand words on a white board, are more about paintballing, mountain climbing and white water rafting. All can be seen as having their own values and merits, and you have a great time when doing them.

Listen to your employees

In many ways, the worst thing you can do is spring some kind of day out on your employees without consulting them beforehand. You don’t want to spring a fully-fledged plan on them, and expect them to get on with it.

Take some time to sit down with your team and try to involve them at the earliest stages of the process. This sense of inclusion helps them to buy in to what you’re trying to achieve in a greater sense, and they’ll be thankful that you included them. Even approaching them with several ideas and asking them to vote on their favourite can help to sell the exercise to them.

Try to do it on company time

This option won’t be possible for companies of every size, but it’s absolutely something to consider, especially if you want your employees to feel valued. As anyone in your finance department will be able to tell you, taking people out the office on company time costs money, but if it’s for the benefit of your employees, it should be seen as an investment.

This is a situation where you might be best placed to be in your employees’ shoes. Try to imagine being told that you have to come in on a Saturday to take part in an exercise with your boss. It’s important to respect the fact your team have lives outside of work and knowing that they will be paid to participate in your exercise will help all the more.

Adding that element of fun to an away day is vital. Even if your budget can’t stretch to some of the activities mentioned earlier, or the circumstances of your business don’t fit, there’s still room to balance work and play. Even looking at high class conference venues like those found in business hotels will ensure that your workers will be able to enjoy the bar and facilities, after the activity has wrapped up.

Your employees are your most valuable asset, and taking steps to ensure they both work as a team, and feel valued are vital in the modern management environment.