Thursday, December 14

How to Build Up a Team-Building Program

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The most successful teambuilding activity can become a very nasty experience if it has no clear objective. Why spend money, time and effort conducting an activity if you cannot identify its reasons or benefits for the team? If there is nothing to it than having fun and “hanging out”, why not play some poker and call it a day?

Nevertheless, if you want to raise a team’s efficiency or even put up your own team, you will have to pick out those certain activities that can account for the expected outcome.

Start with a clear objective. What do you want your team to learn? The objective should be:

    * Accomplishable;

    * Relevant and useful with regard to the momentary level of your team;

    * Something that can easily be remembered and resorted to after the teambuilding program itself.

Remember that the first step in forming or consolidating your team is trust. Trust can only be gained by means of small steps and not only through a sole activity or event.

Many trainers conceive their activities during a teambuilding so as to include as much competition as they can. This can, indeed, be a positive element added to your program. It can energize people and make them want to get involved more.

It is, however, a mistake to assume that competition will make everyone give their best in order to succeed. Competition can discourage and create destructive conflicts. Trainers often risk becoming the “bad wolf” if they do not accurately appreciate just how competitive the teambuilding activity must be.

The most important thing is to be able to support your decisions (if you have to) using clear objectives. When developing a competitive activity, take into account:

   1. The current level of competition within your team;

   2. The emotional stability (or instability) of participants when they have to deal with success or failure;

   3. How intimidated or intimidating can participants be;

   4. Your own ability to solve or cast away conflicts within your team, in case there are some.

How to Prepare Team-Building Activities

In order to be sure that all participants will benefit from the positive experience your teambuilding program has to offer, you have to prepare all its activities in advance.

What is equally important is that you must go through all activities yourself so as to realize what works smoothly and where issues may occur. For doing that, you’ll need to:

    * Read and reread your written program several times. Be sure that everything is clear concerning what, how and when it is going to happen. Try to visualize the activities as you read them.

    * Check all materials. Do not assume anything. Take extra pieces of whatever you need as material for each activity. You never know when you might need it.

    * Exercise what you are going to tell the team you will be working with. The best way to do this is explaining to a colleague or to a friend what you intend to do. If they do not understand you, rephrase so that you explain thing more clearly.

If the activities suppose you play a certain role (moderator, referee, judge, so on so forth), exercise your comments and actions. This will decrease your level of nervousness during the actual ongoing of activities and will help you focus on more important things, such as participants’ reactions, the rate at which they learn to work together, your own judgments, critical incidents etc.

No matter if your teambuilding program is inside or outside a classroom, you should take your time to properly arrange spatial elements. Make sure that the furniture and the rest of the equipment is set up so as to put you to advantage. A room arranged so that participants do not have eye contact with each other is least advantageous. Better options consist of rooms in which participants are seated in a “U”-shaped pattern or around several tables.

Many activities have long rules or a large number of steps. They must be written on a sheet of paper and posted somewhere visible to all participants. This is an example of how to anticipate issues. When you visualize your activities, be sure to always do it as if you were besides your team. Ask yourself what could go wrong.

Your teambuilding activities are now ready to be implemented!

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