Team Building Activities for work, Sounds familiar?
Ever been carried away by those romantic notions of team togetherness in an exotic place, paid for by your company?
Boarded a bus expecting that it will be super-fast and super luxurious, and that you will reach before you realise it?
Expectation setting is an important element in all team building outbounds.
One thing I always do is give our client teams a realistic view of what the destination they are going to will be like in the present weather.
Also, what their journey will be like. Exactly how long and how comfortable or uncomfortable.
And then, we usually provide travel advisories to our clients too, but relevant to their program. Not the usual travel agency kind of advisory that just speaks in general about the weather, but carries no specific recommendations to teams.
We also strongly advise team outing owners to pass on our message to their entire team, and to advise everyone to read up about the place they are going to.
Hazards of Not Telling Teams What to Expect from a Team Outbound
Soon after I started my training firm, we were hired to run a murder mystery for a client team in the area outside the one most popular water park in Bangalore.
We arrived early, set up our crime scene and waited for the client team to arrive.
They did, and jumped out of their van all ready to rush into the park. Their HR staff even gave them their wrist bands for entry.
And then, they told them that they were to solve a mystery for 1.5 hours before entering the park.
Apparently, this was the first time they were told that there was a team program before the water park visit and rides.
You can imagine exactly how our mystery went. Normally, teams are super excited to solve mysteries. This time, they were just in a big hurry to wrap up the case as quickly as possible. Some of them even gave up halfway through, escaped the watchful eyes of their managers and ran off into the park.
After that, we always ensure that our clients tell their entire teams exactly what is in store for them, when they set out to do team building activities for employees.
We are often warned that telling teams that they will solve a mystery or an escape room, as team building activities for work, may raise their expectations greatly. We are more than glad to have that happen. Because we are confident of more than living up to their expectations of us – provided that the right expectations are set, to start with.
What Should You Tell Your Team?
Tell your team exactly why they are going through team building activities for work.
Tell them what to expect, in terms of activities, and for how long.
If the exercise of team building activities for employees has some seriousness, then let them know. We have come across situations in which managers and HR have been annoyed with teams because they have just run wild at resorts and not been attentive enough to the fact that they are doing team building activities for work.
That happens only if you do not share a schedule for a team outing, and outline clearly what you expect your team to focus on. The default agenda of fun is, of course, always there
Susegaad at Goa
I can never forget the time I travelled 2 days in advance of a large client team of 150, that was travelling from 3 locations – Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune – to Goa. All my teams are special to me, but this was even more so, because it was a team that was originally a small product company. It has been bought over by a huge IT MNC.
The CEO of the old company was the team head of the new division. It had been his dream, when he was still a small company, that one day he would take his whole company on a fun-filled team outing to Goa. A team building event, with team building activities for employees, in which he would have a rocking DJ party with liquor flowing free, a talent show by his staff and an awards night.
I was deeply committed to his cause, and took a flight out to Goa well in advance.
When I arrived at the resort, I found that it was strangely understaffed, due to some internal staffing malfunction. The reception staff came in by 11 am, and even when they did, they were perfectly chilled out and in no hurry to check anyone in.
We had created a whatsapp group for the team. I quickly began posting messages there about Goan susegaad – the traditionally relaxed and laid-back attitude towards life that is characteristic of Goa. I advised the team to be prepared to put themselves in a similar koi baat nahi kind of state.
In other words, I set realistic expectations in their minds of what the service in the hotel would be like. The slowness of the hotel staff. The absentee general manager’s attitude towards a low budget client.
It worked really well. My objective was achieved. And that was that the team should put itself in the mood to enjoy what was going to be a very fun-filled experience, and to not ruin it’s mood by expecting everyone in Goa to behave like Mumbaikars and Bangaloreans.
People actually discovered the joy of a slower pace of life and a happy-g-lucky attitude during those 2 days. All work to be achieved during the program was completed on schedule. But slowness in coffee service or room service was accepted with a smile by the team.
The manager wrote us a long, beautifully crafted email when he returned to Mumbai, thanking us for having made his dream outbound come true.
That was an expectation I had set in his mind – that we would exceed his expectations of us. And he told us we had.