Team Building: What’s on the Horizon for 2014
Last year, I took a stab at forecasting what lay ahead for corporate team building. Of the projections I made, the following came true and unfortunately 4 of these trends (7 – 10) were practices that undermine the effectiveness of team building (the numbering is based on last year’s forecasts):
- Team Building Incorporating Outdoor Activities.
- Using recreational events or extreme activities as a substitute for real team building.
- Squeezing team building into tighter and tighter timeframes.This has become much worse than last year and the number of request for half day programmes has increased sharply.
- Delegating the responsibility for planning team building initiatives to inexperienced team members.Interns or new graduates are now being asked to source team building.
- Cutting short the amount of time allocated to debriefing and business application exercises.
In fact, the individuals who are given the responsibility of sourcing team building do not have an understanding of the terms debriefing and application exercises. All too often, team building is perceived as a strictly recreational activity.
What Lies Ahead for 2014
Based on what we have been observing, companies have a long way to go in order to realize the benefits of “real” team building.
- Group sizes will continue to shrink.
Instead of a VP or director arranging team building for an entire group, minuscule budgets are being allocated to very small departments. The number of requests for small groups of 12 – 20 has significantly increased. This just popped into our company mailbox:
We are a team of 5 people and want to have a team building activity. Would you be able to help us with this? Were looking for something in the outdoors.
Organizations no longer seem to understand that this will result in significantly higher per person rates. In fact, the per person budgets are shrinking.
- Budgets will continue shrinking.
This is related to smaller group sizes. In recent months, my company has received with budgets of $2000 and, just this week, someone from a major Canadian corporation contacted us and they had budgeted $36 a person including lunch for a group of 20.
- Shorter Lead Times for team building and corporate events.
There appears to be more demand for “just in time” team building and corporate events.
- The decision making process will take longer.
Even when companies have healthy budgets at the time a request is made, decisions are taking a lot longer. This sometimes results in a very short timeframe for implementation or initiatives being placed on hold due to a change in the organizations situation.
- There will be more requests for custom designed options.
Instead of opting for off-the-shelf programmes or customization of existing programmes, companies are looking for brand new options without allocating the budget for a custom design job.
- Companies will continue to stay close to home.
We have been seeing companies requesting team building where there head office is located or at destinations where branches. This is one of the factors that is driving the request for customized simulations at new destinations.
- On-site Team Building
As time and budgets get cut to the bare minimum, more companies will offer all or part of their team building sessions on-site. Expertly facilitated on-site team building can focus on the essentials and have high impact if companies focus on the core building blocks for effective team building.
- Smaller portions of programmes to be outsourced.
In an attempt to manage tight budgets, companies are doing more in-house including venue selection and logistics. They are opting for a meeting with a few hours of recreation and calling it team building. Not only does this short change participants, it significantly reduces revenue potential from each team building session.
These trends have several implications for team building consultants and in order to deliver value, we may have to re-think how we deliver service for some clients. For example:
- Pricing based on minimum group sizes may no longer be viable. To cater to small groups, it may be necessary to develop special off-the-shelf team building for small teams with pricing based on timing, reflecting the length of the event rather than group size.
- It will be increasingly important to leverage opportunities to connect with executives and raise awareness of the benefits of team building.
- Simulations and team challenges may have to shrink to as short as an hour in order to incorporate debriefing and business exercises within a 1/2 day timeframe.
- To fit shrinking budgets and timeframes, on-site team building will become more important for all or part of the session.
- More attention will need to be given to designing one day team building as companies are not adjusting expectations in view of one day team building pitfalls.
- As budgets continue to shrink and clients request destinations that are outside their usual offerings, it will be important for team building consultants to increase local visibility and marketing efforts. It will also become more important than ever to form alliances with colleagues in other countries and cross-refer opportunities.
- For some clients, it may be necessary to design or customize simple simulations. Prepare a short guide for introduction, set-up and debriefing, and brief team leaders to facilitate them.
One thing is certain, the majority of clients are unlikely to return to 2 and 3 day retreats for large groups any time soon.
Please keep Executive Oasis International in mind the next time your company requires team building, an executive retreat or on-site consulting to boost the effectiveness of your teams.