The Ultimate Guide To Choosing and Surving a Teambuilding Event

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing and Surving a Teambuilding Event

Posted on: 07/02/2019

Just the mention of the word teambuilding is enough to send a shiver down the spine of most people. It has developed a negative connotation for several reasons, ranging from the implication that your team needs building in the first place to the likelihood of showing you have no co-ordination at the African drumming session.

The thing is Black Cat realises all of that. I have been to every different level of teambuilding event and realise that the extremes of `hardcore teaching` to cringingly embarrassing `fun`don`t work. For example  at one of the first teambuilding sessions I went to I was taught that your `face shows your attitude!` Well..I guess it did..I was bored and it showed!  A later one had me blindfolded listening to a colleague trying to help me draw something. This could have taught me several things: either I was not good at listening to instructions, if I had a quick peak I did a little bit better or I was simply rubbish at drawing. I knew the latter to be true when I saw the face of the tutor. It certainly showed his attitude to my efforts.

It means you really need to trust me when I say that reading this ultimate guide to choosing and surviving a teambuilding event will be one of the best decisions you have made for a long time! Here are eleven things you need to do to cement your place in office or teambuilding folklore amongst your colleagues, friends and, even your line managers if you wish.

1. Volunteer to organise the teambuilding event.

Now..I know you could be choking on your Cornflakes when you read that. I mean you`ve got plenty to do already without taking on the one thing that`s going to get you a load of abuse, because if there`s one thing where you can`t please all of the people all of the time (or even some of the people, part of the time) it is on a teambuilding event . But bear with...there`s method in this madness. I will split this risky strategy into three parts to re-assure you:

(a) Control.  You get to choose which options are available for the teambuilding event. Remember that time climbing a rope on the assault course when you were stuck at the bottom of the wall when your colleagues had long since disappeared over the top of it? That`s not happening this year!

(b) Grateful Thanks from those colleagues you consider to be your friends. There will be a short stage admittedly when they openly or maybe secretly question your motives, but push through that and they will soon be eternally grateful that you have agreed to take on this task.

(c) Respect (even if some of it is a little grudging). There is nothing Managers like more than to delegate the job of organising a teambuilding event. Not only does it show they are `one of the people` by not deciding what happens, but they also realise the pitfalls associated with the running of such an event. If someone actually puts themself forward to take this on rather than them having to make the potentially awkward choice of who to impose on then their respect is instantly yours.
In addition, colleagues who perhaps you are not so friendly with will also accord you some respect, albeit without the same enthusiasm possibly, because deep down they know that they have escaped the awful possibility of them being chosen to be the butt of all criticism.

2. Agree a Budget.
There is no point in crashing straight into this and gleefully proposing a Champagne and Caviar breakfast to kick off the event if normally your company can only afford to meet up in a MacDonalds car park. It will not help your negotiating position if you are unrealistic. Note: This works both ways. If you are from a FTSE 500 company for example it only pays very occasionally to suggest a very down market activity. If you go  that way then go big with the after event meal.
Ask the Manager what budget is available and then suggest a slightly higher one to their first response. Remember he/she owes you big time and you are unlikely to be in such a position of power for a while.

3. Stay Local vs Travel
The decision on whether to choose an activity in the town or city where you are based or travel to a new venue can of course depend on the budget (see above) and time available. However, if you have a choice, then you should consider the pros and cons of both.
It may be that you live in a town where the ten pin bowling is the standard `go to` choice for a teambuilding event, but after three consecutive years it has become a bit stale. Alternatively you may be based in London where on the face of it you are spoilt for choice. This does not mean in either instance I would necessarily advise you to travel in case one or stay in case two. Look out for an activity provider maybe that could come to you if they have the perfect offering for your group or for the London office it can be great to escape the bustling City and explore elsewhere , maybe taking part in an activity that provides better value for money and with a provider who is keen to impress the visitors from the capital. Nothing works better than positive word of mouth.

4. Original vs tried and tested
The choice of the actual activity(activities) may come down to your knowledge of the group, but remember 1(a) above. You are in control and it really is time for someone to shake up the teambuilding. I had attended so many days when I was thinking..`if only I could set this up`, before I actually got the chance to do so.
Choose tried and tested only if it has really worked before and can stand being repeated. I would not advise going for a straight repeat of the activity unless significant variations on the theme are available. If you want to repeat a part of a previous event then choose a restaurant/pub etc where you know the team has happy memories from before. At least if the event does not match up then at least they will leave with a good feeling.
Original activities can be absolute winners if done in the right way. At point 6 (below) you will need to trust the activity provider that they will deliver on promises made to you at this stage. It should be fun, inclusive,optionally competitive,use people`s strengths and, for the Manager`s benefit, it will subliminally aid teambuilding.

5. `Selling` your choice. your activity/day is in budget. The choice on whether to travel, if applicable, has been made and remember, the teambuilding part of this may come on the back of your company attending a conference out of town. Now is the time to sell this not only to your manager, but more significantly to your colleagues.
With the acceptance on the initial announcement that there will most likely be someone, somewhere who will say "I bloody hate stuff like that!" it is vital to have your contingency plan in place. This event has a `little something for everyone` where everyone can contribute by `using their own unique strengths`. There could even be some personalisation where you will discover and embrace some new and fun information about some of your colleagues who  very rarely meet or know each other because they are in a different department, in a different office or building.
The event should probably be combined with some kind of social afterwards involving food/drink where everyone can relax in the knowledge that at some point they have had fun and benefitted in some way.

6. No surprises before the day.
Whereas it`s great when everyone is pleasantly surprised by how much fun they have on the day, it is important they know in advance what they are letting themselves in for. Keeping the details of an event secret until 5 minutes before you start has never worked well in my experience. People need time to not only look forward to the event, but get excited by it.
Doing something new in a new place with people you may not know too well needs a little time to get used to. Alternatively,If a group of people in an office already know each other very well then  building up the activity by maybe choosing teams in advance for a competitve event will raise the level of committment before arrival.

7. Take a step back
You have by now `done your bit`. It really is time to hand over the reins to the person/people organising the activity. Let them take over and give out instructions/advice. Fade into the backround and give yourself an opportunity to enjoy the day.
If there is any judging/marking/assessment to be not get involved. Hand this over to the activity organiser. If they are any good they will know how to deal with any slight failures alongside resounding success in the same breath.

8. Get/allow the Manager to thank the activity provider.
Although this may look like you will not get the credit you deserve when the event has gone well it is in fact a cunning ploy to get exactly that.
The Manager will be delighted that it has been a resounding success and will likely thank you in front of everyone anyway. Make sure you are seated/standing in the middle of your team and give a small wave or smile of acknowledgement when this happens. The event provider will  thank you too for initiating the booking and the overall positive mood of the group.

9. Enjoy the rest of the event/evening.
Colleagues will thank you individually for being the first person to come up with an original and fun teambuilding event. This is your cue to enjoy the meal/drinks part of the evening safe in the knowledge that your standing has never been so high.
There is one more thing to be done with regards to a successful teambuilding event and how to survive it, but it can wait until the next working day. Bask in your glory because the meal/drinks section never really follows a pattern that you need to be concerned about if the event has gone well.

10. Post Event Analysis/Feedback
This will happen in some form. You may be required to send a brief, private analysis of the event to your Manager just confirming final costs and numbers. You may also choose to offer a good review to the event provider as that will build a rapport for any future link up.
Colleagues  will look to provide evidence of a successful event on Social Media and internally on staff newsletters. Be prepared to contribute if asked.
Everyone who is important to you will have made a positive mental (or recorded or spoken) note of this event. Record it on your CV if you need to.

11. 8 or 9 Months Later. 
"Ok, so do I have any volunteers to organise this year`s teambuilding event?"
You knew this was coming and you need to decide how you want to play it. I would advise standing in the background initially even if you have a burning desire to put yourself into the firing line again. Why?..2 reasons.
For a start you may have inspired someone else to take on this potentially two edged sword, having demonstrated what a wonderful and smooth job you made of it last time. You will always have the credit of that year and trying to go one step better may be difficult, especially if you are stopping someone who has put themself forward. That person will make it hard for you if you denied them their chance to shine.
Or..and this could be just as likely, there will be an awkward silence. It is possible that by now you have  some kind of staff rep role or the others want/need you to step forward again. Remember, you still have the power at this stage, but only for a short time. Say yes or say no, but with the following reasons:
Say yes if you do really enjoy the adrenaline associated with this. Say yes if at point 6 above you were convinced that your activity provider is able to put on a noticeably good variation on last year`s original theme or if in the meantime you are sure you have come across another winning idea.
Say no if you believe in quitting whilst you are ahead, but offer to hand over details of any research you did for last year if that would help someone else, as you really feel the role should be shared around. No-one can argue with that.

Contact: to discuss the way forward for your teambuilding event. We can guarantee you an event that is: Fun, inclusive, personalised and offers the option for Black Cat to be there on the day to take the pressure off you. We also have original ideas to ensure repeat bookings are successes too!

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