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Selecting the best team building activity

Clear intent before the decision-making stage can make all the difference.

We advocate for a simple three step appraisal based on a method used by the military to create what’s called clear “Intent”. 


Once clear Intent is established, and communicated by you, then far better briefings and outputs can follow on from that.  It saves a lot of time, and it creates clarity around the big issues of Purpose, Method and End State:



1 – What is the PURPOSE of the session?


2 – What are the METHODS we’d like to see used?


3 – What is the actual END STATE that we are wanting to achieve?



Careful thought into those three questions, and then effectively communicating them will help to select the best approaches for a team.  


Does the METHOD  a decision-maker wants to pick actually help support the PURPOSE and most importantly the END STATE, or does it clash with them?  For example, picking an Amazing Race because it’s easily understood and looks like fun, yet may physically exclude some team members and / or may miss some of the major aims that we identified as important for the session. 


To elaborate just a little if you have the time to dig deeper?....



1/ PURPOSE – Why do we want a team building event?


The term team building is now used widely to describe many things.  We categorise them broadly as follows into 3 distinct levels, with options to match.  Keep in mind some sophisticated options work across all three bandwidths.


Level 1 – Pure interactive fun


Level 2 – Fun with some high-level links to business or cultural themes


Level 3 – Highly targeted development of relationships, teams and culture



Trying to achieve level 3 outcomes with level 1 options can backfire, as can applying sophisticated level 3 options where a team is seeking only level 1 fun and games at an off-site.  As part of a 6 month or year-long strategy for accelerating team development all 3 levels may also be timed and targeted for good effect.


Why do we want a team building activity / session?  - To fill some time? To create some laughs? To achieve some meaningful outcomes? To reward the team? To develop the team?  To solve problems with some team / people dynamics? To network our people? To get involved in a charitable outcome? To improve business performance?


Or is it several or all of the above?  


Being clear on these sorts of question upfront will help select the right approach in tandem with a good provider.



2/ METHOD – What methods do we think will work ?


Careful thought should be given to what will work best in terms of the event style and theme that is selected, and the environment within which it will be delivered.


There are many potential methods, but not giving consideration to the following points may at best see the hammering square pegs into round holes, and at worst creating a disaster on the day.


You can consider available team building methods in a number of ways, click below to see more on those approaches:










Also take into account these important factors:





Is our team a mix of all ages and functional styles, or are we heavily weighted with a particular style of professional function or age bracket and the culture that may come with that?


Whilst in our experience ‘people are people’ when an activity is well delivered, and generational or occupational stereotypes can be over-thought on occasion (e.g these are accountants, they won’t like that), some activity formats may genuinely appeal better to some demographics than others.





Do you have people in the group who have special needs for their physical mobility or sensory stimulation?  Any potential cultural sensitivities?


It is vital to give forethought to how an activity may impact any such people within a team so that people do not feel excluded, or are in effect excluded even if that was not the intention.





Are we in our office, or out and about in the CBD, at a hotel meeting room or at an off-site meeting venue with plenty of outdoor space?  


Trying to make an event that needs loads of space to work well in a cramped bit of room or lawn, or with no time for set up will be problematic? 


Some activities require a minimum amount of floor space to work which could mean either enough set up time to turn around a room or space, or booking another suitable area.


Thinking ahead on this can save a lot of grief on the day.


Have we picked the venue first, and need to make the activity work here, or vica versa? Is there set up time if we’d like to use the same room or space for something else?  Some activities require little or no set up, whilst others will. 





For indoor event options this has little impact, but if outdoors then it can genuinely be a ‘make or break’ factor.  Keep in mind that last minute indoor Plan B / back up options may not be as effective as properly thought out indoor options upfront, or equally well thought up Plan B options that help to obtain similar outcomes to your Plan A.


If wanting to head outdoors then consider - Is it summer or winter?  What are the average temperatures for the location on the date that we are looking at?  How physically robust are the team members?  What if it buckets down with rain?


For example, putting office workers into physically demanding temperatures or uncomfortable conditions for any period of time can backfire, destroy morale and the event. 





Good quality team building requires good design, good staff and a viable business behind it that can fulfil bookings and client needs reliably with proper planning, support and delivery.  


Good team building therefore has a cost associated with it, and in reality people will usually get what they pay for as they would with any other service or purchase.


Cheap options may suit a purely fun brief, but could be fraught with peril if safety, professionalism and any expected outcomes are compromised for the cheaper price tag.   


At the end of the day if you are putting your people into someone’s hands for any period of time, quality and professionalism needs to be balanced with value for money.



3/ END STATE – What do we actually need to achieve here?



If you were to create one simple, succinct and carefully worded sentence to sum up exactly what you want to walk away having achieved from this event, what would that be?


For example:


“Just to have some fun and get to know each other better.”


“Blow off some steam after a heavy agenda in a fun way, see the sights, and build better communication.”


“To have our team better networked, and to bring to life the company values.”


“To accelerate the team development process of a new team.”


“Resolve some stated or unstated tensions and improve working relationships between individuals and sub teams.”


“To understand at greater depth the impact of their day to day behaviour, and that of other team members on business performance.”


“Walk away with actual personal / team strategies for better deploying our strengths and managing weaknesses under pressure back at work.”



Chances are, if this sort of summarising sentence cannot be agreeably composed by the decision-makers, then more thought may be needed before briefing a provider to create the possible options and solutions for you.



We hope that this has been useful, and of course you can always just call us on 1300 731` 381 or email .  We can talk through or email you our quick and easy event diagnostic process. 

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