Plan Now for Your Spring Team-Building Outing
As Spring progresses, the weather warms and the ground dries after winter’s snow melts. It is time to peek ahead in the schedule and find a time for your next team outing. Bonding is critical for unleashing every team member’s full contribution, maximizing team performance. The best bonding happens outside of the stress and hustle of the workplace.
Teams also need to regularly recharge mentally. Disconnected, worn down employees don’t fully engage their mind in their work. They get their tasks done, and their output is professional and sufficient, but they do not take the next step, examining how they can achieve better outcomes with the same time and energy.
The time you spend away from the office as a group deepens everyone’s understanding of each other, and gives more useful insights into what motivates each employee to work more energetically and creatively. It is also a time when the boss can celebrate team successes in more detail, without interruption, and have longer, informal conversations about tasks and work conditions.
We recommend a full day away from desks and other groups, isolating yourselves in a real cocoon of internal connectivity. (But if you can only swing permission for a half-day, take it.)
This is harder for virtual teams. So as you read the following, consider what type of meeting and activities could be run digitally if it is not possible to bring the team together in one physical location.
Your Group Bonding Day Agenda
The goal is to celebrate successes, get to know each other outside of your assigned roles and blue-sky a bit about how the group could challenge the status quo and achieve even better outcomes.
Pre-Meeting: Have the team plan the outing. You set the basic format, and the goal, and let the team structure the day. (Unless you want to surprise them with a special outing of significant value!)
I. Report on team successes. Share feedback you have gathered from your superiors and other groups that collaborate with you.
II. Discuss how that happened. What was the team’s recipe for success? What parts could be even better?
III. Run Fun activities. Pick an activity that forces people to spend time with those they know less well. This could be mini-golf teams, water balloon tosses, picnic cooking/preparation assignments, Frisbee golf or other low-impact sport challenges in a park, solving puzzles. The specific activity matters less than the goal of having everyone interact in low-stress way with lots of team members.
IV. Brainstorm or blue-sky activity. Make up more small groups of people who know each other less well and have them tackle a basic question like “what three things would you change about how we operate as a group?”
V. Share a meal. You can prepare it as the group activity, or order the food in.
Parts I and III are the most critical, followed by No. II. If you only have half a day, focus on those. You can weave the meal into parts I-IV, too.
What have you done as a leader or team member to forge closer work bonds? What has worked well? What missed the mark, and needs adjustment?
We cannot emphasize strongly enough that this investment in “time together away from tasks” will pay off within days (weeks at the most) in raising engagement, creativity and productivity. Never neglect the group outing! Pick that date, get your boss to sign off, and get the group involved in planning it.
We plan fun activities into most of our client work, because they is so effective in raising cohesion. If you need some ideas, just ask!