If you have a couple minutes, run around your office and take an informal poll. Tell everybody you see that you’re planning a team building event, and take note of the reactions. Chances are, you’ll get mixed reactions based past experiences with other “team building events”. Too often people have been exposed to poorly thought out, poorly orchestrated events with no clear purpose and no positive outcome.Why not combine the holiday season with some feel-good philanthropy to help shake those negative feelings? You can sneak a team building event into your holiday celebration without people realizing that it’s another one of “those things” until it’s over! Have a great time, shake a negative stereotype, learn something, and help the community all in one!
Why The Negativity?
We’ve heard the horror stories of team building events gone wrong, and even seen some of them firsthand. Here are two no-no’s which can lead to meltdown:
The Dictator Up Front
We’ve watched the entire show come crashing down as the president of a training company with a “I’m the boss, and I’m the best, you all need to shut up and worship me” attitude managed to immediately alienate not only the audience, but also the event coordinator who happened to be in the room. The old saying about only having one time to make that first impression is certainly true, and there’s no recovering from an immediate personality conflict, and there’s no way to salvage your event once that happens. I’m sure that event coordinator got an earful on Monday morning too!
We have no idea why you’d get into the training industry if you’re short on soft skills, but it happens. A professional facilitator will be an expert in personality styles, and know how to work with everyone in the room. This is supposed to be a fun event, and the idea is team building – having an abrasive person running the show doesn’t do much for team bonding!
There’s no room for off-color jokes, or even jokes that skirt the lines. Everybody has a slightly different sensitivity level, and you never know someone’s hot button will be. Ethnicity, religion, sex, career choices, favorite sports teams, politics, the list goes on and on. While you might be able to pull off a well-intentioned joke in any of these grey areas, our advice is to steer clear. Inside jokes about company issues might get you into that grey area as well – even if you’re an Apple employee, a misplaced joke about the latest iPhone glitch to a group of Apple engineers could be a career-limiting move!
How To Sneak The Team Building Event In
Now that you know what NOT to do, how do you sneak in the team building without your participants realizing it? The key is holiday cheer, and community involvement.
Mention to your participants that you want to make your event something more than the same old holiday party this year, you want to give something back to the community. Any company can write a big check to a local charity and call it a day, but that doesn’t provide your team with any sense of involvement or pride. There’s always the usual offsite options – volunteering at a local foodbank for instance, but that doesn’t have any tie-in with your event, and these options usually have a fairly low turnout.
This is where philanthropy meets holiday – children’s gifts are a perfect fit for the holiday season, and what better way to involve everyone than having your team build toys for the needy? Throw in some activities to make each team earn their parts, whether it be assembling stuffed animals or helping to build bikes for charity as a team – this is where you get to sneak in some learning without them realizing it. The key is to make it fun, and make it memorable.
And the kicker – this is the best part – is when you surprise the entire team by having the children from the local charity come pouring into the room at the end of the event. Wide eyes and big smiles on the kids faces are met by laughter and tears on the adult’s faces. It truly is a priceless moment that your team will be talking about long after the holidays!
Trust The Experts
If you’re an in-house trainer, or you have a group in your company that specifically does training, you could probably pull off a holiday team building event by yourself. While you can try to coordinate the team building activities, line up a local charity, and go through the ordeal of “herding cats” as you try to get your team reigned in and focused on the event at hand, you’re better off leaving that to the experts.
As a company specializing in charity team building events, we understand that you have a job to do, and you probably do it very well. This is our job, and we do it very well. Take a minute to talk to one of our experts, and see how we can help you turn ho-hum into ho-ho-ho with a holiday event to remember!