By Heather Hafner
There are many times when you should entrust your company’s event to a professional team building company because there are too many people, moving parts, unknowns and you have other responsibilities. There are times when you can go it alone using this site’s activities and a little advice. Let’s assume you have already picked your team building event and activities.
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for a successful team building event.
- Have an event team…even if it is just one other person. There are many times when you think you have “thought of everything”…and yet you haven’t. Other people – especially if they have a different learning style (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) or behavioral style (Eagle, Parrot, Dove, Owl) will see the event from a different perspective. Welcome fresh advice and additions.
- Be organized and make lists thinking about the day from start to finish. Where is it going to be held? Are there tables and chairs? If it is a large event, how will people know where to sit? Are there refreshments and when are they arriving? Make sure you have table numbers and stanchions and break up the teams in advance. If you leave the seating to fate you will have lopsided table numbers. There could be three people at one table and eight at another where a regional team decided to pull chairs and all sit together. Also, mix up the tables so people who sit together don’t regularly have a chance to work together. Ensure the teams are gender-balanced as well.
- Outdoor programs have their own unique needs. People who work in an office environment will be more affected by the outdoor environment more than you think. It always sounds like a great idea to “get out of the office”; And it is. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, bug spray and seating for those who would be uncomfortable standing and have shaded areas available at all times.
- Make it fun for everyone… including you! As the organizer, the energy that you bring to the event affects everything. The energy colors the activities that you choose, how you decorate, what extra touches you add and the interactions you have with participants at your event team. The tone should always be upbeat and fun. “Yeah, but I have a lot to do and very little time” you say. Participants will have a first impression of the event room, and the people in it and this will set their tone. If it feels hectic, they will feel that too. Why should it be fun for you? People do their best work when they are having fun and they are more creative and see the bigger picture. Which brings us to…
- Be in the details but, at some point, you have to let it go. It may sound like I am contradicting myself, but bear with me. Your plans are not always going to work out. The best case scenario is to be organized, order everything way ahead of when you need it, double check with staff and the event site, show up early on the event day and be prepared for everything to go right. Be flexible when it does not. Your table stanchions didn’t show up? Make folding table numbers out of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock. The linens are the wrong color? Realize that pretty soon the tables will be covered and no one will notice. The music is missing? Ask your event staff if they have an appropriate play list on their phone or use Pandora. The meetings are running late and your event is not going to start on time? In my 20+ years in team building, they rarely start on time and this is okay. Part of good planning is having contingencies and not planning yourself into a corner. As we say, “it is always perfect”. Stay focused on why you brought your participants together and what you want for them at the end of the day – networking, relaxation, a philanthropic give-back opportunity, a day out of the office.
Congratulate yourself for a job well done. You cared enough to take the time to create an opportunity for your participants. Celebrate your successes and learn from your miscues. Never forget the good intent that made it all happen!