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Team-building events

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Different types of events you could try to develop your team in a non profit organisation.

Specific team-building events can be helpful in developing your team. To enable the team leader to participate fully it’s useful to engage a skilled facilitator. This could be someone else within your organisation with the necessary skills. Or you might decide to engage a professional facilitator.

Choosing the right team-building approach

The number of team-building approaches can be baffling. Many are advertised on the web. Most are commercial companies looking to sell a particular approach or tool. These go in and out of fashion. A past trend was outdoor pursuits such as abseiling and raft building. A current trend, according to the CIPD, is Japanese Taiko drumming.

Rather than buying into a particular approach it’s better to start with the questions:

  • What have we identified as our main team-development need?
  • What do we want to get out of a team-building event?

The team effectiveness checklist (Word) helps to identify development priorities. Suggestions for meeting these are given in the section on effective teams. As well as identifying ‘building blocks’ to work on it’s also worth considering the team’s stage of development and how to help teams move through stages.

The team is more likely to be committed to the event if they’ve taken part in planning and designing it.

You may come up with:

  • developing individuals’ perceptions of team goals and relationships and their skills to contribute (focus on individuals)
  • working on achieving team goals and building good relationships so everyone contributes fully (focus on a single team)
  • improving communication and developing shared ways of working (focus on multiple teams)
  • developing commitment to the corporate mission and anticipated change (focus on the whole organisation).

The approach you choose should then fit your purpose.

Different types of team building event

Rather than trying to sell you a particular tool, a good facilitator will help you to clarify your goals and then select an approach and an event that will best meet these.

Some of the most common team-building events are:

  • outdoor pursuits such as ropes courses, orienteering, climbing, sailing and other physical activities. The relevance of these depends on the quality of de-briefing after experiences.  A good de-briefing will allow time for individual and group reflection, drawing out conclusions on team roles, leadership, working together, etc. You need to consider whether this would be suitable for your team. Not everyone wants to, or is able to, go rock climbing for example.
  • indoor pursuits such as making a video, inventing a game, or producing a pamphlet together. The same need for good de-briefing applies.
  • social events such as a meal, picnic or going bowling are not such a good way to work on specific goals. They can, however, enable people to get to know each other and develop relationships.
  • community service or fundraising projects can bring a team together in a common cause. To be of value in terms of team building, the project needs to be well thought through, with regular review and learning processes.
  • workshops are a popular method and can work well when tailored to the team’s needs and goals. To get away from the demands of the workplace these are best held off-site. They can include group exercises, planning and review sessions, problem-solving activities, information exchange. A good workshop will mix practical activities that generate experience with reflective time, group discussion to share learning and draw conclusions, and planning to put new ideas into practice.
  • practical activities could include things like role play (to develop skills), games (to observe group dynamics or team roles), drawing or collage (to develop creativity and gain individual perspectives), group drawing (to develop shared vision), questionnaires (to explore team roles), pairs and small group work.

Professional facilitators

If you decide you want to run a team building event expect to budget for facilitator’s fees, venue costs, refreshments, travel, and possibly relief cover to enable everyone to attend. 

Plenty of commercial companies advertise on the web. Make sure their product matches your needs before contracting their services.

Page last edited Jun 23, 2017

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