Why A Good Start Is Essential In Team Building Programs?

“Well begun is half done” – so goes a tried and tested saying. When it comes to conducting Team building programs that is one piece of advice you would do well to heed. The mood and tone that is set in the first few minutes of a team building program goes a long way in ensuring its success.
kick offHere are a few things that you should have on your checklist before you kick-off such a program:

1) Preparation is everything

Time spent on researching your client – the key issues they are facing, their market standing, recent developments, an understanding of who they compete against and their business performance, often gives you the much needed insights on why they are looking at having the workshop in the first place.

Whenever possible try and definitely meet up with as many team members – but especially the team leader, to get his perspective of what he would like to see as the end result of having conducted this team building workshop.

2) Get the essentials out of the way quickly

Where the toilets are, Where the water is kept and other such matters of logistics / safety are essential pre-requisites before you start off the program. State these upfront as people first start coming in or better still put these up as a self explanatory slide that participants can see as they come in.

The last thing you want as you get the workshop going is – a few hands going up, asking you where the toilet is.

3) Set the tone

As people start filing in to the conference room where you are kicking off the team building program, make sure that all the external cues are very positive : bright lights, peppy music and warm enthusiastic welcomes and smiles, sends the signal that this is going to be one fun engagement for everybody. There is a positive expectancy that creeps into the air.

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4) Get them to mingle

As soon as you start the workshop, your first two objectives should be : 1) To get the laughs going 2) To get them to mingle among themselves. One of our Facilitators has a nice way to do this. He welcomes everybody to the team building program and says: “Some of you are here because you WANT TO be here. And some of you are here because you HAVE TO be here.” That gets the smiles going, since it perhaps touches on an unstated truth. He then asks them to spend a minute discussing with the people on their left and right – to find out what each one expects from the program that day.

It’s a nice way also to capture expectations that the group has and for you as a Facilitator to be sure that what you have lined up is in line with those expectations.

5) Always check expectations

Building on from the point above – its not just important – its critical to check and list participant expectations before kicking off the team building program.

Coming back to the expectations at the end of a team building program and being able to tick off all of them along with the team is a powerful closure for the team – for a day well spent. When this step is not done, all too often you can have some nagging voices, that leave a feeling of incompleteness for you and for the team – not something that you would want.

6) Address the issue of commitment

Any team building initiative can be successful only when there is complete participation and commitment towards making it succeed, from not only you as a Facilitator – but from all the participants too. Even the best of Facilitators cannot make progress if the team is reluctant or unwilling.

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Its best to address this issue upfront. One way to invoke this is by introducing the concept of the Full Value Contract (FVC). The FVC is a mutual contract between the leaders, group members and the facilitators that defines how the group will operate while moving toward its goals. The notion of a “Full Value Contract” is to have a contract that “fully values” each member of the group.

Here’s an example of 5 basic principles which can be taught very quickly in any group setting. You can demonstrate it by putting up one finger at a time from one hand:

  1. Be present
  2. Pay attention
  3. Speak your truth
  4. Be open to outcomes
  5. Create a safe environment

Using a fun object like a foam ball, a tooting horn whenever you see the FVC not being followed is a subtle way of getting the group back in line at times.

Go on – try these few things in your next team building program – and do let us know whether it helped you make it better!

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