Team Building: Back to a Bottom Line Focus
This team building blog advocates a return to a bottom line and business oriented approach to team building. Why? The team building industry has been “dumbed down” by providers of recreational activities who have been passing off “fun and games” and entertainment as team building. For this reason, this blog zeroes in on strategies that we have used with client organizations in our bottom line oriented team building and executive retreats.
Once you have sampled our innovative team building approaches and tips that we have generously shared through this blog, we hope that you will keep Executive Oasis International in mind the next time your company requires team building or an executive retreat.
Team Building: Getting on the Right Track
The purpose of this blog is to explore strategies to boost the value of team building in terms of ROI. We’ll discuss in detail how to steer clear of each of the misteps that can derail your next team building initiative. Anne Thornley-Brown, our Founder and President, will share some of her own experiences, insights and ideas to help you ensure that your team building sessions are effective and engaging. Finally, we’ll provide assistance to companies with the nuts and bolts of planning team building retreats and sessions.
Our team recently had a number of conversations with similar themes. We’ve combined them into a few of scenarios to highlight some of the situations that inspired the launch of this blog. They illustrate why team building gets derailed. These calls were not from Mom and Pop shoppes but large and successful companies.
Caller: I understand that you offer team building and I would like some information.
Executive Oasis: Fabulous, it would be a pleasure. How can I help you?
Caller: Well, we would like to do some team building for a group of 60 people. We want to do it in about 2 weeks.
Executive Oasis: Okay, can I ask you a couple of questions?
Executive Oasis: What are your objectives?
Caller: I am not sure.
Executive Oasis: I see. Well do you have an idea of whether this is to provide your team with an experience that will focus on some business issues or if it is strictly for recreation.
Caller: I am not sure. I think it’s just for fun.
Executive Oasis: About how much time have you set aside for team building?
Caller: I am not sure. A couple of hours I think.
Executive Oasis: Do you have a rough idea of budget?
Caller: We want to spend about $25 per person.
Executive Oasis: Trying really hard not to let our shock show.
We let the caller know that her budget was well below anything that we could offer. We then spent some time helping her brainstorm and pointed her in the direction of some recreational facilities that might be suitable for the team and then suggested that she serve the group pizza.
A company contacted us to find out about our polo team building sessions. Hint: Polo is NEVER a low budget offering. They were calling less than 2 weeks before their sessions. We went over their needs and let them know how the session could work and pricing. When we didn’t hear from them after a few days, a member of our team called to follow up. They responded that they had decided to have a picnic at Centre Island and play baseball. We nearly fell off our chairs. Talk about wanting champagne on a beer budget.
We’ll call this paying for an expensive dessert before the main course. This scenario has happened a number of times but we will share the most extreme example. A member of a team that was planning a corporate retreat contacted us in a panic. They had used up most of their budget booking the group into a high end conference retreat. Little was left over to hire a facilitator or keynote speaker. They wanted to know if we would be willing to work with the group for a fraction of our usual fee to help them meet their budget. The answer was “That will not be possible.”
We suggested other more affordable options for accommodation, nice venues that would fit within their budget and leave enough room for proper facilitator fee. The response was “We really want a treat”. They weren’t even open to the possibility of staying double occupancy to stretch their budget further. We were stunned. We suggested that they find someone who was new to the business and looking to get some experience.
This is similar to scenario 3. Again it was a committee of inexperienced employees. They were based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and planning a trip to Penang for a large group of employees and their families. They had requested information about a team building simulation that fit the objectives of the retreat. Eventually, they asked if the 2 day simulation could be cut down to half a day so that the group would have more time to go shopping. Again we were stunned.
So, where did these companies go wrong? Here are a few key areas:
Quick Team Building Tips
These tips are listed in term of the frequency with which we have seen team building derailed because they have been ignored.
The first 3 by far have had the major impact with number 1 leading the pack by miles.
- Don’t Confuse Team Building with Team Recreation and Entertainment.
- Set a realistic time-frame to achieve your objectives and always leave some wiggle room in your agenda.
- Set a Realistic Budget and be prepared to discuss it.
- Plan WELL in Advance: Don’t leave your planning until the last minute.
4b Select your team building supplier before you lock in your dates and Venue.
- Provide the Context: Ensure that you give the member of your team who is contacting prospective team building partners all required information.
- Clarify your team building objectives.
- Ensure that senior management spearheads all team building initiatives.
- Set priorities appropriately
(i.e. An expensive venue is never more important than hiring a skilled facilitator. Allocate your budget accordingly.