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A team event is an important – and potent – way for your staff to unwind, socialise, and make better connections with their team mates. But they can only be truly effective if they’re planned and executed strategically. Planning a team event that is effective in maximising outcomes requires careful consideration, and there are consequences for getting it wrong – not only will staff be bored or disengaged at the event itself, but they’ll be disinclined to want to participate in any in the future, and it will be much harder to justify the investment in organising them as a consequence.

So what are the secrets to planning a team event? How should you approach it, who should you speak to, and what steps should you take? The first goal has to be to have a specific goal in mind from the outset. It shouldn’t be just “to have fun.” A good event should be planned around facilitating a specific type of communication, or developing specific skills. It’s only once you know what the outcomes for your event should be can you move to the planning stage in full.

What should a team event look like?

A really great team event will be interactive and collaborative, in such a way that encourages each member in the team to develop their commitment, engagement and accountability within the team.

As such, a team event will be effective in identifying and addressing weaknesses within the group. For example, if someone on the team is too passive, in the day-to-day work it can be “hidden” by the perception that the person is a “heads down” kind of worker, or simply quiet. A well designed team event will help to highlight that the person isn’t good at coming up with their own ideas, and then encourage them to do so in a safe environment. This will, in turn, lead to a greater confidence that they can take back to their workplace and team.

Similarly, a great team event should be fun, but it should also develop skills within a team. If they need to solve puzzles, for example, the event would be helping the team with their problem solving skills. If you want to encourage your team to think more creatively, however, you might organise an event that’s less about puzzles, and more about designing or building something.

Where do I even start?

Once you know the desired outcomes that you’d like to draw from an event, the next goal should be to find the right event organiser to help plan and execute an event around those key outcomes. You could try and do this yourself, but drawing on the expertise of an event organiser will help in umpteen ways – from major decisions like finding the precise activity that will lead to those desired outcomes, through to more basic planning challenges, such as finding the right setting for the event, and managing the logistics of the day.

You can identify an experienced event planner from the way that they interact with you in those early stages. A good event planner will be full of questions to help to drill deeply into the specifics of the outcomes and KPIs that you’re looking to draw from the event. They’ll also want to know about the team dynamics and personalities in order to device and activity – or activities – that will ideally suit this group. Finally, they’ll want to understand the culture and principles of the company itself.

From there, the experienced event planner will be able to come back to you with some recommended activities, and explain to you how each of those will meet your criteria. Be wary of an event organiser that is too hasty to recommend activities from a template.

Involve your own teams

Another useful trick (and one that an experienced event organiser will also encourage) is to ask the employees themselves what they’d like to do. After all, it’s important that staff have fun at these events in order to get the most from them, so understanding what is “fun” to the team is a useful planning step to go though.

At the same time, use employee annual surveys and the like to get a better understanding on where your team sees its strengths and weaknesses from their perspective. You may well find that what you see of your team from the outside looking in is a little different to what the team sees of their dynamics from within. Again, an experienced events organiser will help you to interpret these responses and data into an executable event that will address the concerns of the team in a meaningful manner.

Finally, don’t get into the habit of running the same events, looking for the same outcomes, over and over again. Teams change, and an individual’s skillsets will also change over time. As a result, the ideal event will also shift over time. Perhaps you’ve got the “wallflowers” of the team to be more proactive in coming forward with ideas and suggestions. At that point, the next team activity should be different in tone. The best approach to team events, then, is to undertake a new planning process each time, and certainly an experienced events organiser will take this approach each time you come to them with a plan to run an event. For this reason, good events organisers will also approach each engagement as both an individual event, and part of a longer term strategy to build, and maintain, the cultural health and morale of the entire organisation.

Events are great bang for your buck, in that they do meet all “12 Cs for Team Building” in themselves. For more information on planning a team event, or to start the planning process to meet your own business’ goals, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Be Challenged. Our team of highly experiences events organisers will be more than happy to walk you through every step of the events planning process.

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