There’s a lot to think about when planning and organizing a team building activity. From thinking about goals, to setting dates and finding venues, all the way down to getting feedback and preparing souvenirs (we made a very handy guide to all this information in a recent blog post).
Team building really does take effort, preparation and thought in order for it to be truly enjoyable and beneficial. And along the way, there is unfortunately the potential for a lot of mistakes to be made.
We’ve been in this business for a while now, and we’ve had many different teams come to us for help with their team building events. This means that we’ve seen the good and the bad of team building activities. And because we want your team to have the best possible experience they can, we thought it would be good to share some of the biggest team building mistakes you can make.
Hopefully, this list will help you as you are preparing your event (most of these common mistakes are from the planning process phase with a few from the actual event and after-vent phases). But even teams that have pulled off successful events might be able to learn a thing or two about how to make the next one better.
So, without further ado, here are the biggest team building mistakes you can make…
1. Waiting until the last minute to plan
At the top of our list of the biggest team building mistakes, you can make is waiting until the last minute to plan your event. Unfortunately, this is quite a common occurrence. And we get it– sometimes schedules are busy, and sometimes you have to use the team building budget within a specific time.
However, we want to urge you, as much as possible, to start planning your event as early as you can. This will give you more time to think about goals, find event locations or external event planners, and in general give you the mental space to plan the best event for your team.
Of course, if you are pressed for time, Invite Japan is ready to help as much as we can. But we find that the more time there is to plan, the better the event is, since there’s more time to learn about your team and what your specific expectations are.
2. Not having a clear vision
Another one of the biggest team building mistakes you can make is not coming in with a clear vision. By clear vision, we don’t mean that you have to have a specific activity,down to the last detail, in mind. But you should have a sense of when you want your event to take place, how big you want it, and whether you want it to be outside, inside, remote, online, or at an offsite location.
Getting the contours of the team building event down in your head will make it easier when you go looking for activities. Then you can separate out which activities will work for you and which ones won’t. And If you choose to bring in an external team building planner, it will make your conversations with them go a lot smoother.
3. Having unclear goals
Along with not having a clear vision of your event, yet another one of the biggest team building mistakes you can make is being uncertain about your goals. Do you want your team to have fun? To learn about teamwork? To develop better communication skills? To celebrate recent successes?
Determining these goals will give you a better idea of what your team needs. You can have multiple goals, too. Just remember to match these goals to the activities that you end up choosing.
4. Picking an activity that’s not right for your team
If you have your goals set, you should be in a good position to pick the right activity. However, you should still think carefully about the specifics of your team. Mistakes can often be made when choosing an activity that doesn’t fit right with your team’s personality or dynamics.
For example, some teams may want more mental challenges, like puzzles, while others may want to be more active. Maybe going somewhere new will be good for the team, while for other teams staying in the office and doing an activity there is a better use of time.
There may be other needs too, like physical disabilities, food preferences, or language differences, which you shouldn’t overlook. Getting input from your team during the planning process is a great way to ensure that you choose an activity that is right for everyone.
Remember that the number one priority of any team building event is that team members enjoy themselves while spending time together.
5. Not preparing your team for the event
Once you have chosen your activity, and your event is planned, there is still work to do. One of the biggest team building mistakes you can make at this point is to not prepare your team adequately. You want to make them excited about what you’re going to do, and know a little about what you expect.
This includes telling them all the information they need, and maybe what kind of attitude to bring, or giving them a taste of what topics they will be focusing on. Keep reminding your team and hyping up the event too, especially if you have more time before the event.
6. Coming in with a closed mind
One of the most important pieces of advice you can give your team is to come into the event with an open mind. The best team building activities present participants with situations that they might not be so familiar with. That’s the whole point–to get teams out of their normal routines so that they can grow together.
But sometimes players react to this by getting defensive or closing off, which can also affect how their team performs during the activities and the general atmosphere. To get the most out of any team building event, it’s best if team members come with an open mind and a willingness to challenge themselves. Or at least try to.
7. Not following up afterward
Finally, after the event ends, one of the biggest team building mistakes you can make is to not follow up afterwards. After planning such a great event, you shouldn’t let it just hang there without building on it. One way to follow up is to get feedback from your team. You want to know how the event went, what your team learned, and what could be done better in the future.
The next step in following up is to start immediately thinking about the next team building event. If you’ve built some momentum on your team and it feels like they’ve grown, you want to make sure that it continues. Planning your next team building event, before all the good feelings fade and schedules fill up, will ensure that your team retains the lessons they learned.
We hope you learned a lot about how to plan a successful event for your team from our list of biggest team building mistakes. As we always say, you can learn a lot from mistakes. So by looking at some of the most common mistakes that many teams make, you and your team can gain the tools to proactively and thoughtfully plan your next successful team building event.