An effective team is built around a group of talented individuals; each possessing a unique set of skills, values, perceptions, inhibitions and ambitions. These characteristics bring expertise and creativity to a work place but can also create conflict and distrust.
There’s a strong relationship between a positive work environment and increased productivity. Employees who enjoy their role and feel valued and appreciated for going the extra mile are more likely to remain loyal to an organisation through periods of challenge or transition. In the great money vs happiness debate it appears job satisfaction and the prospect of career advancement will cause an employee to work longer hours for less money.
A common misconception is that employee happiness equals employee engagement. While a happy employee is likely to show more loyalty to your organisation, they won’t necessarily exert greater effort into their work or promote innovation.
For business owners and managers seeking to build cohesion within teams, choosing an effective team building activity can be a challenge. The value of team building is a question that can divide opinion, depending on an individual’s personal experience of a team building event. A poorly organised, or poorly executed activity can create resentment between colleagues and employers, whereas a well-considered and engaging activity is highly motivational and insightful, leading to increased engagement and productivity.
Collaboration is a fundamental and essential ingredient of effective team working. EML Team is approached regularly by senior managers and team leaders looking to foster genuine collaboration within both their teams and their wider organisation.
Teams and Organisations that do not effectively collaborate very often experience pockets of excellence but do not manage to create a culture of excellence; it can be the difference between being a good team and a great team.
Before I launch into some practical ideas and applications for building collaboration within your team it’s important to reflect on what poor collaboration actually means for your business. In a nutshell a lack of collaboration in your team and organisation means time and resources wasted and unhappy stakeholders – put simply, as a leader, you cannot overlook this!
Many team building activities focus on bonding smaller working groups of say six to ten team members undertaking a fun activity within the setting of an inter team competition. These team building activities are invariably great fun and very often each individual working group finishes the session feeling like a tighter unit through a shared experience – but have they really grasped the fundamentals of effective collaboration and has the activity even begun to address the issue of wider inter team collaboration within your organisation?
When looking at conference team building activities for building collaboration within your wider organisation don’t fall into the trap of trying to design an activity that puts all of your delegates into one big team. Although within your organisation you are notionally ‘one big team’ the reality is that your people are organised into a series of smaller departmental teams. In the real world it is the ability of these smaller, silo teams to communicate and collaborate that we are looking to develop in order to drive your organisation’s performance.
The following ideas are facilitator lead team building activities designed to highlight this potential inter team pitfall within the framework of intelligent, well thought through exercises.
First two ideas; Building Bridges (link) or Construction Project (link). If you have a large group in a conference room these activities allow table / teams to undertake a two hour project with a need to collaborate with other teams in the room to achieve an overarching goal. Very often the individual teams will default to a competitive mindset before realising, about half way through the project, that they need to work collectively.
Both Building Bridges and Construction Project require teams to share insights and resources in order to complete the task – if they do not then they will fail. As you can imagine these sessions are great fun but is also very meaningful; often generating lots of takeaways to be discussed upon conclusion.
The next idea is Big Picture (link). A more relaxed analogy for collaboration to support your conference message, Big Picture will see several smaller groups working on painting a section of a masterpiece. The activity concludes with all of the panels being brought together to create the Big Picture. This activity lacks the punch of the ‘moment of realisation’ featured in the above two ideas (as teams understand the collaborative nature of the activity from the outset) but it creates a lovely atmosphere to re-enforce your message of the benefits of collaboration on overall organisational performance.
Other activities that can be applied to building collaboration are Lego Architect (link), our range of Treasure Hunts (link) and our TeamWorks programme (link).
Contact me now on email@example.com or +44(0)1905 330660 for more information on how to apply our team building activities to build collaboration within your team.
A team meeting conducted on bikes in the New Forest in Hampshire.
We were recently approached by a client to spice up their meetings a little bit.
Tired of soulless, air conditioned meeting rooms the company’s senior leadership team had all but mutinied when the CEO (through his long suffering Personal Assistant) tried in vain to get time in their collective diaries for the quarterly update meeting.
Not to be outmaneuvered the CEO shimmied neatly and deftly passed the responsibility to his HR Director (the defacto leader of this revolt) to sort something a bit different.
This is the point in the story where EML comes in. The HR Director had read something in the press about the power of meeting in the great outdoors and, being her go to provider for Team Offsites, she turned to EML to craft something for the Senior Leadership Team’s big day out.
Here’s what we came up with:
0900 Guests arrive at predetermined location in the New Forest, Hampshire for a briefing from EML and Bicycle equipment allocation / fitting / orientation
1000 Based in 4 separate teams the guests will disperse on 4 separate routes as they navigate themselves to their first meeting point as provided by EML
1030 Meeting 1 – guests will stop at a pre-determined point (it could be a village green or it could be a wooded glade – an EML team member will be waiting)
1100 Meeting 1 ends – guests mount up and move on to the next meeting point as provided by the EML team member
1130 Meeting 2 – guests will stop at a pre-determined point
1200 Meeting 2 ends – guests mount up and move on to the lunch location as indicated by the EML team member
1230 All 4 teams converge on the lunch rendezvous and enjoy a 2-course lunch in a private area of a quaint brasserie pub
1310 EML will conduct a short-facilitated exercise wherein the 4 teams feedback their discussion to the wider group. This feedback will be captured on film by EML
1330 The teams will disperse once again on 4 new routes as they navigate themselves to their third meeting point as provided by EML
1400 Meeting 3 – guests will stop at a pre-determined point
1430 Meeting 3 ends – guests mount up and move on to the next meeting point as provided by the EML team member
1500 Meeting 4 – guests will stop at a pre-determined point
1530 Meeting 4 ends – guests mount up and move on to the Afternoon Tea venue back in a picturesque village as indicated by the EML team member
1600 Afternoon Tea
1630 EML will conduct a short-facilitated exercise wherein the 4 teams feedback their discussion to the wider group. This feedback will be captured on film by EML
"Please note that EML will be present in a support role. They will have a spare bike, puncture repair / spare inner tubes, radios and water. A member of EML will be waiting at each meeting point with your next location sealed in an envelope and to deal with any issues."
"Please note that due to use of rotations etc you will not be followed by EML and you will have to navigate to the next rendezvous point on your own where upon you will meet a different EML team member each time."
Included within the meeting package:
Starting to notice some droopy shoulders around the office? Sounds like it's time to plan a team building event or staff training day!
….but what do you want? - a team building day or training day or both and which supplier do you choose?
Team building is a great way to facilitate bonding with your team members, reduce employee stress, and give them the chance to get to know one another outside of the office. The session, all be it a half or full day, can be fun and serious.
The Training session should be interesting and focused, ideally with measurable outcomes.
This leads rather neatly onto two separate questions:
1. How do you find ideas for a great team building or training session?
2. Who do I turn to and who do I use?
Thankfully the internet is at hand and you’ll probably start with a Google search for "team building or team training ideas" and stumble upon a website in Adwords, or if you are diligent on the top one third of the page after the paid for Ads.
A word from the wise, a little work at this stage might save a lot of time later. Are the companies you have selected specialists in what they do and can I easily call them?…Ideally your selected company or companies will have a meet the team page and a landline number…have a look over the team page and check that you want these people to represent you, after all on the day if the selected company turns up late, the equipment is old and tatty and the event staff are not particularly pleasant - how is this going to reflect on you and your profile in front of your team?
When calling the representative that you speak to should be polite, helpful and knowledgeable. Here at EML Team all the sales staff are seasoned event managers with hundreds of events under their belts, they all have at least two training tools that they facilitate on a regular basis (MBTI, Belbin or Everything DiSC) - they are experts in their field…. This is the calibre of person whom you should be able to speak to when you phone your chosen provider.
More often than not you will also be wondering about the best venue to us as well. As will all things there are usually a wide range of venues and prices - the choice is obviously up to you but consider the following elements:
Convenience for the majority of the team?
Suitability – is the venue really suitable for what you need?
Cost and what is included in a Day Delegate Rate?
Does the venue reflect the day…. Will the team feel invested in?
A company like EML Team has over 17½ years’ experience in the provision of team building, training and events which all together form parts of an Off-Site day and in the majority of cases they have advised on venues and/or sourced the venues so in this area they are also experts with a tremendous amount of experience.
Your chosen provider should listen to your requirements and give professional and concise ideas for you to consider… ultimately the right activity / event / training should save you time and energy and meet all of your objectives.
Are you looking for a more effective team? Have you already taken your people paintballing and to a curry house and yet seen no tangible improvement in their collective performance?
Investing in a team can be a well-intentioned yet frustrating exercise for any leader looking to effect a permanent and positive change.
The ‘team building’ market is flooded with providers offering everything from abseiling to zorbing but when the initial morale boost provided by undertaking these team experiences fades, misaligned teams invariably drop back into their old habits and their performance suffers.
To effect real and lasting change in any team building session we believe you need to undertake the following 3 steps:
Part 1. Tell them
Build greater collective awareness by introducing a common language to the team through the use of a recognised psychometric tool such as MBTI, Everything DiSC or Insights Discovery.
A qualified practitioner can typically introduce a psychometric tool to a group in just a couple of hours. Supported by some of the superb behavioural reports in the marketplace a morning session of any of the afore mentioned psychometric tools can equip teams with a lens with which to examine and then discuss the behaviours at play with their team.
Although very different all of the market leading psychometric tools celebrate the inherent strength that comes from a diversity of styles, behaviours and preferences within any team. When the differences in working styles within a team are presented in such a positive light the resulting improvement in group awareness enables team members to move from resenting those differences to celebrating and valuing them.
Part 2. Show them
Shine a spotlight on the team’s current state through a series of engaging and insightful team simulation exercises underpinned by a recognised psychometric tool such as MBTI, Everything DiSC or Insights Discovery.
The Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, is reputed to have said "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." – In short Chekov was saying “Don’t tell me - show me!”
Don’t make the mistake of telling people about how an effective team should look and sound and then leave the session there. Show your team how they are actually working together – no matter how experienced or senior a team might be, a well-pitched team exercise underpinned by psychometrics can be an excellent vehicle for shining light on dysfunction, disharmony and poor teamwork.
This element hinges on the quality, tone and delivery of the team building exercise. A team exercise must be credible, professional and be team appropriate. A poor exercise gives team members a ‘get of jail free’ card – “this is a waste of time”, “it’s unrealistic”, “I don’t see how this is relevant?!” Poorly pitched team building activities are counterproductive and can reverse the gains made earlier in the day. Conversely a powerful exercise can facilitate a level of group realisation that something needs to change and indeed a final capitulation to the need for Part 3 of the process.
Part 3. Listen to them
Facilitate a group discussion aimed at formulating a series of practical steps that the team can agree on, commit to and be individually held accountable for, in the pursuit of a more effective team.
By choosing a more meaningful team building session you have earned the right to enjoy this part. With a common language in place from Part 1 and having demonstrated the need for change in Part 2 it’s time to reap the benefits of your team building session and make the improvements that will take your team to the top.
We’ve seen team leaders try to initiate these conversations after handing their team a fistful of free profile reports off the internet, after an hour of go karting or worst still after too much alcohol – in short they haven’t done the ground work and they haven’t yet earned the right.
When we speak to disenchanted team leaders they will typically say, “Team building is a waste of time and money as it doesn’t get results!” “Not so!” we reply, “you just haven’t worked with EML yet.”
The physical and emotional wellbeing of a team has always been innately linked to its performance. Every team will have its day but a healthy and happy team will always outperform an unhealthy and unhappy one in the medium to long term.
When leaders are looking to drive performance quickly then somewhat counter intuitively taking a moment to pause, reflect and consider the health, wellbeing and mindfulness of their people can be just the tiger in the tank their organisation has been looking for.
Traditional morale boosting team building events can have a really positive short term effect on any team. Providing the team building event has been well targeted it can be an ideal rallying cry for a new campaign or a warmly received thank you for a job well done but the effects of even the most effective team build can be relatively short lived as teams soon slip back into their usual ways.
When employers begin to consider things like the mindfulness, the quality of nutrition and the functional fitness of their employees they open a door to a range of far more integrated and nuanced team development workshops and programmes which are rooted firmly in the lifestyles of a team as opposed to its dynamics.
More and more of EML’s clients have begun to integrate mindfulness, health and well being programmes into the fabric of their organisation. Gym memberships, exercise classes on site, healthy food, yoga and meditation have all been used by our clients to promote health, wellbeing and mindfulness to their employees with great effect.
Reacting to this shift in focus by our customers we have developed a series of group based health, well being and mindfulness workshops which are an ideal conference team building session or launch platform for your new internal health and well being programme.
Our Functional Fitness Workshop looks at the impact of modern life on the human body. Using low impact and inclusive movement based group exercises we demonstrate how sitting in chairs, driving cars and using smart phones has inhibited our natural range of movement and altered the muscles in our body.
Delivered by accredited functional fitness experts our Functional Fitness Workshop aims to facilitate greater awareness to the changes happening in our bodies and to equip your staff with the knowledge to revers these changes.
Why Functional Fitness? – It’s simple - counteracting the negative effects of modern life with some of the simple strengthening exercises and stretches featured in our workshop can help your employees to avoid back pain, migraines and injury thus staying fitter, and more productive, for longer.
Our Nutrition Workshop, based around making smoothies, demonstrates to your team how easy, quick and cheap it is to make tasty, nutritious and vitamin loaded smoothies to incorporate within their days. Delivered by professional chefs we will provide everything your team needs to get hands on and learn by doing as they choose, chop, blend their choice of fresh ingredients from our ‘market stall’.
Why Nutrition? – home-made smoothies (minus the sugar of their mass produced cousins) are fantastic for detox, aiding digestion, weight loss, getting your ‘five a day’, strengthening the immune system, enhancing athletic performance and even beauty by enhancing radiance… need we say more?!
If nutrition and fitness are for the body then our final workshop, Mindfulness, is most definitely for the soul. The ability to centre oneself, focus on the present and make better decisions is not just for Zen masters, our workshop demonstrates how elite sports people and senior business people use mindfulness to help them achieve their goals.. Delivered by accredited instructors our workshop facilitates greater mindfulness through the application of a series of simple breathing and meditation techniques designed to augment focus and concentration.
Why? According to the NHS “Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better. When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.” In a business sense we believe that act of becoming more present allows your staff to make better decisions, communicate with each other and mange themselves more effectively.
If you would like to discuss a Health and wellbeing launch event or if you would like help or advice with implementing functional fitness programmes or mindfulness classes within your organisation or team then we would love to speak with you on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44(0)1905 330660.
When considering a venue for your next conference, team workshop or training session, for the person booking it, can be a stressful time anyone designated as the in-house ‘organiser’. If not considered in depth it can be a hit and miss affair and invariably can have an impact (be it positive or negative) on the organisers’ profile within your organisation.