Building a Team Building Plan – A Business Plan Approach

Team building has actually become a rather ubiquitous term for most any gathering of employees or even vendors. Actually it can pertain to everything from a small Executive Team Meeting, to a meeting of new hires, and suppliers/service providers that will impact your customers. Remember a few years ago when the catch phrase within companies-‘customers’? Customers were defined as anybody within the company that received the fruits of your labor. Team building has included a get acquainted session or even indoctrinations. It seems the one common denominator is a structured activity that may or may not force interaction of a group; its size is immaterial. Whatever the motivation to employee a team building exercise, my approach is a more structured approach to team building planning. Off-sites offer a lot of flexibility.

My personal view is that most people do not like being manipulated, especially when it is done in a manner akin to being ‘out smarted’. Also, we recognize that there are levels (experiential) or progressions of a team’s interaction over time. For example, some teams have been through a series of team building exercises together and one exercise builds upon previous meetings. So, there needs to be a method to what can turn out to be madness, in building teams through interaction. Do it right because: yes, there can be wrong answers and results!

Another approach; look at a team building approach like your would constructing a business plan, only in an abbreviated format. The components of the team building plan would be to define some key elements that can be an aha moment. (Defined by Dictionary.com as, “a sudden understanding, recognition or resolution.”

Components of a formal team building plan are:

•Summary-Half a page of concise information that summarizes the various elements of the planned team building event/exercise. Make it about the positive elements of the: who, what, why, where and keep the detailed analysis in the details highlighted the specific elements/topic. This should be at the end of the plan but nobody reads the last page first.

•Defined Objectives that you want to accomplish and make sure it is not an ‘all things to all people’ statement(s). To keep the exercise interesting, productive, and results oriented, be concise and not overly broad. Also, be specific as to what the desired results are all about. People buy-in more readily when they understand the destination.

•Participant strengths overview. This section is about the participants on the team, why they are part of the team needs to be highlighted. (The facilitator needs this information for purposes of designing an effective exercise.)

•The Product is the definition of a strategy/strategies employed to achieve the desired results from which an ROI can be measured. For example, is it navigating a sail boat from point A to point B, it might be a cooking a complete meal with the team divided to smaller groups to prepare various courses. Remember, this is not about adults playing games.

•I define the Marketing aspects of the team exercise as the preparing the team for the exercise.

•The ROI is not all about financials only. The ROI is ultimately how you measure the results in a concrete way. You define for yourself and the team; what results will matter to the group and company?

•Define what you feel the Competition does better than you and what you like about their strengths. It may be nothing more than perception, but it may be real in your mind’s eye.