4 Tips for a Great Team Building

Published on 2013-09-02

CLARKMORGAN LOVES RUNNING TEAM BUILDINGS. Just last month we ran our own internal team building in Shenzhen, and we’ve been running these events, year on year, since 2006. To date, we’ve been to Beijing, Mogan Shan, Suzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. These get-togethers are a great way to motivate, inspire, and outline the strategy for the next six months, and support our goal to be the best training company in China. And what’s more, we test out new team building games and challenges on our own team prior to rolling them out with our clients.
So what have we learnt over the last seven years? Here are the top four lessons:
1. Make it fun
Team building must be fun.  Without smiles on peoples’ faces, engagement drops to zero. When selecting a team building location, activities, and venue(s) remember that people must have a good time. By distancing yourself from the office with your team, you engage with employees without the constraints of office life. Capitalise on this mental distance by creating a more fun environment than the office. But remember, just having fun is a vacation, not a team building.  A team building needs to go a step further and use activities, which just happen to be fun, to create a better team.
2. Select a theme
Whether a team building is for a few hours or many days you need a simple theme. Firstly, focus on the goals of your team building. Example: I want departments to better cooperate.
Secondly, reduce the focus to a simple phrase or single word. Example: “Synergy”. 
Thirdly, reinforce the theme throughout the team building and select related activities.  Example: Put “Synergy” on shirts, PPT slides, swag, etc.
Maintaining a theme encourages staff to view the various events of the team building through a frame, improving the chances of the aforementioned activities having the desired impact.  Make sure that if there is only one take away from a team building, the theme is it!
3. Target your activities
There are innumerable activities that people can enjoy, but select the ones that are related to your team building theme.  The theme is the ‘hub’ of the team building and all activities should reinforce it. If the theme is ‘teamwork’, then select activities that individuals cannot complete by themselves. If your company’s theme is flexibility, then select activities that require innovative thinking. In short, remember this simple formula: Activities + Alignment = Team building.
4. Stay on the Mountain
Returning from an exciting team building is referred to as ‘coming down the mountain’.  Imagine you’re climbing a mountain and at the top you are rewarded with a spectacular view.  When you first see it, it is breathtaking. However, as you journey down the mountain your memory begins to fade and by the time you are confronted with the mundane tasks of day to day life, the view is forgotten.
Team buildings are only effective if the view is not forgotten.  If the lessons learned are carried into the office.  The best way to ensure the lessons of a team building are not forgotten is to extend the team building into the office through changes immediately following the team building. Collect ideas of improvement from everyone in the company. Select the ones you wish to implement, and announce new changes based on the team building every week. Even better than changing an office post-team building, have the team return to an already altered office. On-going changes following the team building increases the likelihood of a successful event.