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Old 15.07.2008, 19:48
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Team Building Event Ideas

I and some other work colleagues (from various depts) have been given the task of organising a team building event.

Has anyone does this in Switzerland? What did you do? Things to avoid? What worked? ANY IDEAS???

Our parameters;
To take place this September (Geneva, Nyon, Lausanne)
Half day plus evening dinner (seated or BBQ)
Inside or Outside (it will be September)
Some type of awards to be given out
50 approx people
must present 3 scenarios - frm cheap (DIO - do it ourselves) to corporate event arranged by an event company.
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  #2  
Old 15.07.2008, 20:49
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

I’ve had to participate in tons of this stuff in my time. Most of it was expensive and useless. But not all of it. Here’s my takeaways:
1. 50 is way too big a group to team build across. You should break it down into groups of 10 and have them work against each other.
2. Half a day is not long enough so be realistic what you can achieve. Even more importantly manage the expectations of your boss.
3. Think long and hard about how you constitute the teams. This should depend on the objective - whether you want people who work in silos to team build or if you want to team build across silos. A team building exercise with one dominant member will not be a team building exercise.
4. Don’t do it yourself - what you need is an experienced teambuilder to facilitate the process. With a group of 50 you will probably need three facilitators. If you take anything away from this post, take away this.
5. You don’t need to spend a lot of money
6. Forget event type things like abseiling, quadbiking, go karting, paint balling etc. They are fun but expensive and not team oriented.
7. Challenge type events are best because they are fun, cheap and get the team working together against other teams to solve a challenge which is what team building is about. These also lend themselves well to half a day in cities and it doesn’t matter if the weather is bad - all you need is an umbrella and it pits the team against the elements as well as the challenge. Good ideas are:
a. treasure hunts
b. Da Vinci code like clue pursuits
8. You can’t do the challenge and then walk away and have a nice dinner. This is where the faciltator comes in. He can draw the whole thing together into “lessons learned” . Get each team to appoint a spokesman to report on the teams’ conclusions. The facilitator and the spokesmen should work on this in the afternoon. The facilitator will take it from there.
9. Everybody should walk away from the dinner with some shared experience. The facilitator will make sure this happens by giving a lighthearted presentation over dinner about the days events, the output from the spokesmen plus his own conclusions and awarding prizes is good idea.
10. You need a facilitator who can work a crowd.
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Old 15.07.2008, 20:55
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

Very well summarized Nev...
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Old 15.07.2008, 21:03
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

Rafting down the Kander is not a good idea. Just a reminder, that tragedy was a "team building event".

Over the years I have been to many team building events. Every one of them was a waste of time and money, not that this insight will help the OP.
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Old 15.07.2008, 22:33
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

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a. treasure hunts
10. You need a facilitator who can work a crowd.
#10 is very important, an event essential.

treasure hunts are a great idea, something everyone can participate, do consider age range and physical ability as well. try an imagine your asthmatic colleague kayaking, and maybe you have some idea. i used to work for HP, and team building was something we (well, "they") used to do 3-4 times a year. organising an activity that was fun, cheap and not too demanding, was always a challenge
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Old 15.07.2008, 22:36
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

Go karting in Payerne. They set up a pit stop wheel change type arrangement in teams with a number of attempts to improve your time. Of course you get to do some racing as well! Some colleagues of mine did this and found it fantastic fun, and a really good bonding exercise.
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Old 15.07.2008, 23:03
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

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I and some other work colleagues (from various depts) have been given the task of organising a team building event.
You mean to say that your company's method of getting employees to labor together to deliver a service or develop some product during normal working hours is not "team building" enough?

My my my....tsk tsk tsk tsk.

Last edited by blueshrimp; 15.07.2008 at 23:04. Reason: add quote
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Old 15.07.2008, 23:29
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

I have a friend who specialises in Skiing (Winter) and Mountain biking (summer) corporate events. Check out his website, it's excellent... just an idea. I'm sure he's be happy to help

http://www.jistski.com/
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Old 16.07.2008, 10:43
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

I'm really not a fan of organised (outsourced) corporate "Team Building" events, especially the ones with the (IMHO) pseudo-science personality tests built in.

Take your budget, buy a shipload of food and drink, and go have a day in a park/forest. BBQ some meat, have a beer, play football/cricket/hide & seek. People are relaxed, they can do what they want and aren't forced into doing strange games they may not really like.

If you don't want to cook yourselves, hire a couple of kitchen staff and maybe a drinks-waiter. But some people enjoy doing the cooking and stuff, I do. (And don't forget the people who can't eat pork/shellfish/meat/dairy).

That's my 2 rappen worth.

cheers,
(Mr)Wibble
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Old 16.07.2008, 10:51
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

We had a really nice light walk in the Berner Oberland.

First we visited Trommelbachfälle( Waterfalls in the cave/mountain ).
Then, we walked about 1.5 hours and had a nice lunch.

The evening part was optional as it involved pub after 17:00.

Good luck!
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Old 16.07.2008, 11:08
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

Nev is right - one thing you need to figure out if you want to build a team of 50 (which is incredibly difficult) or do you want a team event which is more entertainment or activity driven but not really for "building" a team.
Facilitation is key or else the great things observed and the "development opportunities" are lost.
Non-team member facilitation for a group of this size is important as people will remember for a long time that a team member forced them into something they thought was a waste of time.

The killer question for me is what is the lacking feature or features that your boss wants to see the team develop, this will determine options for you and will give focus to whether the event was a success or not.
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Old 16.07.2008, 11:28
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

We have carried out several team building events here at work, some of which were excellent, others not so. So, here are some ideas:
- pick a (company) theme, divide people into groups and have them create a painting to do with the theme. Each group could have a different theme or all the same. After about 2 hours (during which we served 'refreshments') when everyone is finished, do a mini 'vernissage' and have someone in each team give a short speech about what the painting represents. We did this 2 years ago for a group of about 120 people and had great fun. Followed it with a dinner. We used a large event hall (Schüür in Luzern) for the occassion so we had plenty of room for the arts and the dinner part of the day. Our theme was Andy Warhol and the participants could have their photo taken and have it transformed into a Warhol artpiece (there's easy software to do this).
- for a smaller group (about 12) we did a similar thing - went to a local artist and together we welded a sculpture. We each chose one part (in our case old rusted farm tools....trust me, it looks good) and each had a chance to weld, as well as do all the preparation work. In all, includng the design stage and preparation, it took about 3 hours. We then had an excellent dinner in the artist's garden
- for a group of 60 people we arranged through an events company a cooking event. Three teams, each with a culinary theme (Thai, Mexican, Italian) and each an instructor/chef. The chefs then arranged the teams into specific tasks and dishes, gave them simple instructions and hey presto, several hours later we were ready to all eat a multicultural buffet together. At the end, we all went away with an apron and the recipes of all the dishes we made.

All these team building events created team spirit but in small sub-groups. It's very hard to pool 50 people together into one big team. By creating small sub-teams, the result is sometimes competition between the teams, which is exactly not what you want to do (I guess). Therefore having an event 'master of ceremonies', who is expereinced in working with big teams, is a good idea.

Good luck!
Barbra.
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Old 16.07.2008, 12:44
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

Hi, just curious and feel free to ignore if this derails the thread, but could BHTB please explain how "making a painting in the style of Andy Warhol" builds a team?

I can't imagine a bunch of, say, financiers or engineers spending 2 hours of their time doing this, at a cost of, I dunno, at least 200 CHF an hour per person to the company (maybe more), and then have the company still come out ahead in terms of useful things accomplished and value added to the company. Wouldn't it be better to just keep those people doing their normal work-hours jobs?

I mean, unless there's something very specific that's supposed to be accomplished by the exercise (i.e. trust in coworker's abilities, or learning leadership, or learning time management or organization, or something directly applicable to the people's jobs), I don't see how a day organized around admittedly fun activities that are ultimately of questionable economic return for time and money invested would help.

So, just out of curiosity, what is being accomplished by way of "team building" by spending 2 hours painting a picture? Or learning how to cook Mexican food, for that matter? I really would like to hear from someone who has organized this before, because when I have participated in such exercises no one ever bothered to explain to me, so I never understood.
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Old 16.07.2008, 14:01
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

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Hi, just curious and feel free to ignore if this derails the thread, but could BHTB please explain how "making a painting in the style of Andy Warhol" builds a team?

I can't imagine a bunch of, say, financiers or engineers spending 2 hours of their time doing this, at a cost of, I dunno, at least 200 CHF an hour per person to the company (maybe more), and then have the company still come out ahead in terms of useful things accomplished and value added to the company. Wouldn't it be better to just keep those people doing their normal work-hours jobs?

I mean, unless there's something very specific that's supposed to be accomplished by the exercise (i.e. trust in coworker's abilities, or learning leadership, or learning time management or organization, or something directly applicable to the people's jobs), I don't see how a day organized around admittedly fun activities that are ultimately of questionable economic return for time and money invested would help.

So, just out of curiosity, what is being accomplished by way of "team building" by spending 2 hours painting a picture? Or learning how to cook Mexican food, for that matter? I really would like to hear from someone who has organized this before, because when I have participated in such exercises no one ever bothered to explain to me, so I never understood.
The idea is that you take your highly paid engineers out of their normal work environment, out of their comfort zone and remove the usual hierarchy. All participants approach a task that they likely have no experience or skills in, this provides a level playing field in which you can explore and exploit skills that might not normally be revealed in day to day work.

The problem with any office environment is that people get very good at doing their job. Many of the skills required to do your job are non- transferable and role specific. It helps the work environment if you respect your colleagues for more than just their ability to perform their day to day tasks, and sometimes you even realised that somebodies skillset and abilities might extend into areas that are useful to you.

Also, it's a bit of fun.

I suspect nobody bothered to explain it to you because you were the person moaning saying it's a waste of time, and they didn't want to waste their time arguing with the disagreeable person in the office.
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Old 16.07.2008, 14:15
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

If you want to do it properly and safely and for a group your size I would say outsource it to professionals.

Depending on your budget the following may be of use

http://www.chaletsdirect.com/groups.htm#gpm1_4

There are other places in the portes du soleil region that offer team activities

Hotel du Repos at Val D'illiez also an option

http://www.hoteldurepos.com/index.asp

Good luck
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Old 16.07.2008, 14:16
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

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The idea is that you take your highly paid engineers out of their normal work environment, out of

.
Highly paid engineers ? Which company is that ? Where do I apply for a job ? Does something like that even exist ?

from a poorly paid engineer
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Old 16.07.2008, 14:23
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

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you were the person moaning saying it's a waste of time
from my own work experience, when one is organising a team event for any group, its normal to have folks who disagree with something or another. i guess that's part of the organising team's job, to obtain group buy-in and generate enthusiasm.
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Old 16.07.2008, 14:37
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

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Hi, just curious and feel free to ignore if this derails the thread, but could BHTB please explain how "making a painting in the style of Andy Warhol" builds a team?

I can't imagine a bunch of, say, financiers or engineers spending 2 hours of their time doing this, at a cost of, I dunno, at least 200 CHF an hour per person to the company (maybe more), and then have the company still come out ahead in terms of useful things accomplished and value added to the company. Wouldn't it be better to just keep those people doing their normal work-hours jobs?

I mean, unless there's something very specific that's supposed to be accomplished by the exercise (i.e. trust in coworker's abilities, or learning leadership, or learning time management or organization, or something directly applicable to the people's jobs), I don't see how a day organized around admittedly fun activities that are ultimately of questionable economic return for time and money invested would help.

So, just out of curiosity, what is being accomplished by way of "team building" by spending 2 hours painting a picture? Or learning how to cook Mexican food, for that matter? I really would like to hear from someone who has organized this before, because when I have participated in such exercises no one ever bothered to explain to me, so I never understood.
Oh please - think outside of the box. Warhol was simply a theme for us, the topic was highly relevant - and the event an opportunity to use a skill not often used within the workplace to create a result. Obviously the skills learnt included cooperation with colleagues one doesn't work with regularly, networking with new colleagues, expressing a company-specific theme in a creative manner, and internalizing the theme or message being worked on.

It's a pity you never understood the team building events you took part in, they are indeed productive if one is open to the message being sent.

Barbra.
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Old 16.07.2008, 15:00
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

I done quite a bit of this in a past life. The format we used to use was challenges which could only be completed if the team pulled together and worked for each other. We did some silly team bonding stuff and included some basic trust games in too. Groups would be split up into teams of about 10, which we picked randomly using different methods so you would not necessarily be in the same team as the people you shared an office with. If you want any ideas then drop me a PM and I can give you some exercises that we used to do which should not be too hard to set up.
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Old 16.07.2008, 15:09
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Re: Team Building Event Ideas

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Oh please - think outside of the box. Warhol was simply a theme for us, the topic was highly relevant - and the event an opportunity to use a skill not often used within the workplace to create a result. Obviously the skills learnt included cooperation with colleagues one doesn't work with regularly, networking with new colleagues, expressing a company-specific theme in a creative manner, and internalizing the theme or message being worked on.

It's a pity you never understood the team building events you took part in, they are indeed productive if one is open to the message being sent.

Barbra.

O.K. o.k. but that's precisely my point. "Productive" according to whom? Surely accoriding to the people organizing (otherwise they wouldn't organize them, right?).

But my point is that if the company doesn't bother explaining to the participants how THEY are going to benefit (and believe me getting a bunch of engineers or accountants to "draw a picture" will have them questioning how it is going to benefit them for sure), then the event is not "productive" for the people participating.

So again, I was asking you in what way was the picture painting event productive for the people who took part, and why for instance networking, thinking outside the box, and "skills not often used" (I suppose that includes wielding a paintbrush, a very important skill to have in today's workplace) are not things that are excercised in the normal working environment in the first place.

I mean, I don't disagree that such an event might be fun and enjoyable. I'm simply questioning what percieved value is obtained, and who percieves this value (the organizers or the attendees, for instance), and at what cost to the company, and why some companies percieve that the cost/benefit tradeoff is a good one.

I personally think that if I never understood what these events were for it was simply because no one bothered explaining, but required me to participate by force anyway. That to me is neither motivating nor trust building, and does not contribute to the company's "team feeling". But again, that's just me, I might have worked at bad companies. That's why I was asking someone knowledgeable (you) to explain what these events really accomplish.

Given how much flak I got from asking a simple, polite question (insults from peachy and impatience from you), I rather wonder if it is perhaps because you don't really know the answers yourselves.

But I'm just speculating, of course.
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