Robert Smith of Hays Montrose explains how spending a few days shivering in a forest will work wonders for your team’s morale.
What are the advantages of teambuilding?

A team that works well together and is bursting with ideas could provide the extra edge a company needs.

Employees need to feel that they can offer suggestions for improving the business, no matter how unfeasible they sound. A company that is feeding employees’ brains with new concepts and ways of working will win the day in the customer’s eyes by being innovative and on the ball.

How do I develop team spirit?

In many organisations, annual conferences and staff social events are used to build spirit. Employees return to the workplace not just with a hangover but with fresh ideas about how they can work more effectively, both individually and within their immediate team.

How do I make the event effective?

To decide which teambuilding exercise would be most effective, start off by asking yourself: “What message am I trying to drive home and to whom – leaders or supporters?”

It is not enough to just want to enhance team performance; you need to work out what the real issues are. For example, it may be that you have two departments that are not talking to each other. It is then possible to construct an activity or game, which, as it develops, demonstrates that it is not the winning that counts, but how both sides gain by co-operating.

What type of event could I run?

Teambuilding events are as varied as the companies that hold them. They could be anything from brainstorming sessions in a Travelodge on how to improve your sales and marketing to sending your senior surveyors to the New Forest for the weekend with only a compass, a bar of chocolate and a torch.

Whether you are holding the one-day brainstorming session on developing a marketing team strategy, or simply trying to bring departments together, the following tips for structuring the day may prove useful.

Employees return to the workplace not just with a hangover but with fresh ideas about working effectively

  • Start with a warm-up exercise A psychological game is usually quite good for breaking down barriers. An old favourite if you are not familiar with the other participants in the session is to take five minutes to find three things you have in common with the person sitting next to you.

  • Set issues to be discussed For example, find three marketing strategies used in other sectors that could be adopted by your own.

  • Split the group up into smaller teams and assign specific tasks For instance, define five new client areas and plan how to enter them.

  • Have a team lunch and make sure everybody goes for a drink afterwards This way, the discussions can continue and people can get to know each other.

What is common to all the events is that through the fun and excitement of taking part participants come away with an agreed set of actions that are SMART – Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic and Timely – to be implemented when they get back to work.

How do I arrange a teambuilding event?

There are many companies that are able to arrange corporate teambuilding activities. The Corporate Hospitality and Event Association, a trade association that vets and operates strict guidelines for members, can be contacted by telephoning 020-7278 0288.

Its web site at lists members that specialise in exciting activity days, from powerboat racing to falconry.

And after the event?

Once inspired with new ideas and concepts, employees need further encouragement to see their enthusiasm turned into long-term results. Actions agreed on the day need to be monitored by managers and reviewed.