Planning a team building session but do not know how and where to start? Do not despair. This “dummy’s guide” to planning a team building session will give you important areas to consider and make you look like an expert.

1. Objectives of team building

“Why are we holding this team building event, and what do we expect to achieve?”

To have an end in mind, a purpose, is crucial to planning a team building session. Having objectives mean that you can skew or tailor the activities to meet your expectations.

Having clear objectives would also help to set the tone for the team building session, and establish the expectations of participants involved, so everyone is moving in unison towards the same direction/ goal.

Having conducted team building sessions for a variety of organisations, some of the more common reasons why team building is required, are as follows:

a) To create synergy in a new team/ team with new members

b) To create an opportunity for staff from different departments/ functions to interact

c) To address certain work issues

d) To reinforce their corporate values

e) As a form of training

f) To reward their staff with a day away from the office

g) To interact and have fun

Each of the reasons listed above will result in emphasis on different aspects during the team building session. Spend some time to decide on the main focus of the team building session before deciding on the team building activities.

2. Profile of Participants

“Who will be attending the team building session?”

Another important factor in planning a successful team building session is the profile of the participants. Age range, gender mix and other background information like educational level and job scope, should be taken into consideration while sculpting the team building programme, to ensure that the programme would be suitable and relevant.

Physical conditions of the participants of the team building session should also be considered.

One other important factor to a team building session which organisers frequently overlook is FOOD. In a multi-racial country like Singapore, participants may be Chinese vegetarians or Indian vegetarians, while others only consume Halal food (food that is lawful and allowable under Muslim law) or even Kosher food (food that has been prepared so that it is fit and suitable under Jewish law). There may also be participants who are allergic to certain types of food. The best way to find out about dietary requirements is to check with the participants directly.

3. Time Frame for planning the team building event

“What is the targeted date of the team building session and its duration?”

Dates are important, especially when there is a need to secure venues and check the availability of key personnel or speakers. Typically, we would recommend a lead time of about 2 to 3 months to plan for a small to medium-sized team building event, catering for less than 80 participants. If the event is large-scale, the lead time may escalate to 6 months, or even a year before.

When conducting team building outside working hours, some organisations may wish to consider dates of school holidays or school exams, especially for organisations, which place emphasis of balanced work and family life. To encourage maximum attendance from participants, organisations may wish to leave the school examination and vacation periods untouched, for their staff to spend that extra time with their spouse and children.

Duration of the team building session should also be taken into account – is it going to be a half-day or full-day event? If there are specific issues to be tackled or other forms of planning or training involved, it may be good to consider a 2-day or even 3-day programme.

4. Money Matters

“What is the indicative budget for the team building?”

The budget would have a significant influence on the venue, food and beverage, as well as duration and type of team building activity. If there are no figures to work on as yet, use the previous years’ budget as a guide. If no such information is available, then plan for something not too ambitious, and adjustments can be made from there.

Next, you have to decide if the team building portion is to be handled in-house or to be outsourced to an external vendor. Of course, if the budget permits, there are many advantages in outsourcing the team building portion.

Firstly, to run a team building event, you would need manpower and chances are, if your colleagues are running the event with you, they cannot participate. External vendors would likely be more experienced in conducting the activities and less likely to make mistakes. The vendor would also provide all the logistics involved, leaving your team and yourself free to participate with all your other colleagues.

team building vendors also bring with them sufficient experience in knowing what works and doesn’t, so you are not only paying for their services, but also their rich experience.

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