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  • Writer's pictureKate Crawshaw

Five tips for a team building day that caters for everyone.

Looking to organise a team-building day that will deliver (and not suck)?

Avoid a frosty glare in the tea room for the next six months by those still wearing the paintballing scars by following these important tips.

1. Cater for all different play personalities

However there is also those who love organising scenes and events (does that explain why your friend loves catering at Christmas when you would rather curl up in a ball) “the director” or “the collector” must visit every “big” tourist attraction, has every Harry Potter item of memorabilia or has been to every Australian Open.

You can learn more about play personalities in Dr Stuart Brown’s book entitled Play – How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

However what this means for team building is that while a murder-mystery or a treasure hunt may be loads of fun for some employees, it will be simply excruciating for others.

Consider a team building event that allows for multiple play personality types to ensure maximum engagement.

2. Consider what team traits you would like to see improved and incorporate this into the design

Identify what a “better team” means to you. Is it more transparent communication? Creative confidence? Ownership and responsibility? Or Collaboration?

Team building events give us the opportunity to see ourselves and our colleagues in action in a very different space. Like other experiential learning environments, it gives us the opportunity to identify our own positive and negative behaviours in a safe space.

By considering specific areas of focus for your team building day and integrating them into your activities will allow your team to discuss issues and impacts surrounding these behaviours outside the office.

3 Give space and time for informal interaction

Team bonding is as important as team building.

In 2017, the Australian Workplace Psychological Safety Survey found that only 45% of workers felt their workplace was “psychologically safe” to take a risk.

Workplace social cohesion is closely linked to a feeling of psychological safety.

This may be feeling safe to try something new, to share a mental health concern or other personal issue or introduce a different process.

Team building events are the perfect opportunity to go beyond our 4 second “how are you” “good thanks” social check-in. However, they need unstructured and structured playtime.

The unstructured play is the time for informal relationship building when you will always remember John from the Parramatta office, because he also has 5 year old twins and one is called Riley or that Kirsten shares a freakish obsession for Excel formulas as you do and now you know where to go if you ever get stuck.

In an environment of busy and remote working these spaces are important and reap rewards.

4. Get everyone out of their comfort zone – but know what that is

Generally, if I am told that the day is going to involve me to ‘step outside my comfort zone’, a little bit of vomit forms in my mouth.

This is not because my comfort zone is so broad that there are no boundaries, but like play personalities, they are often stereotyped and incorrect.

Not outside the author's comfort zone

Dressing in crazy clothes

Public speaking

Outside the author's comfort zone

Only being allowed to observe and not speak (totally outside my comfort zone)

Giving people a safe space to stretch into new areas of experience is profound. It leads to reflections like this recent workshop participant made to himself.

Team building days offer legitimate opportunities to stretch participants – but make it thoughtful.

5. Identify the learnings of the day and integrate them into ongoing workplace conversation

Just experienced a mind-blowing workshop?

According to Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve, you will only 21% of formal learning in a month’s time if we make no attempt to retain it.

So often l&d initiatives, especially team-building events, are stand-alone and our focus moves to the next big thing. We miss the opportunity to really reflect on and embed the learnings from that mind-blowing team building event.

Take time to capture the stories post-event and weave them back into other opportunities for discussion or further reflection. These stories can also give you further insight into what is going on at work. (I like this blog post from @shawn Callaghan

A well executed team building day can incorporate all these things and more. Talk to us about Lights, Camera, Action where play personalities, comfort zones and learning meet for a profoundly impactful and fun day for between 50 and 200 people.

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