5 Step Formula to an Epic Team Builder

Team Builders, Leadership Retreats, Executive Off-Sites, Department Strategy Sessions...whatever they are called, you want this rare and coveted time together to be great, impact-ful and lead to success for your company and your team.  But what should be a thoughtful and intentionally designed experience ends up feeling like a burden thrown together at the last minute and before you know it, you and the team are at the movies...again. Or worse, you discuss, discuss, discuss with no outcomes, no growth and you are all left feeling more drained than ever.  Why?  Because we are busy, and putting in the time to create a meaningful experience always seems to take a backseat to the more pressing issues that come up...and there are definitely no shortage of those.  

But it does not have to be that way.  Below is the 5 step formula that when followed will allow you to create a meaningful team builder, retreat or offsite with time to spare.  Implement this proven formula to take your team builder to epic in no time at all.

1) Begin with the End in Mind

   Before putting the team builder together, get clear on some things. Ask yourself: “by the end of this time, I would like the participants to (fill in the blank).  This will provide you with your theme to build on.  Once you are clear on what you want folks to leave with, you can decide how much time the team builder will be, where it will be, know your budget and create an agenda!  Yes! Create an agenda.  It does not have to be detailed, but it should be enough so the team knows: what time to show up, what they need to do to prepare (read an article, take an assessment, etc….), how they need to dress (tennis shoes, comfy clothes, etc….), what time they will be finished, and what the objectives of the day are (i.e. what you want them to leave with).  This should be shared with the team at least 48 hours in advance and even more if there is preparation they need to do (read article, answer questions, etc…).  This allows all participants to come prepared, ready to contribute, in the right mindset and is the foundation for an epic team builder.

2) Celebrate!!!

    It is human nature to focus on what still needs to be done, how much is left to do or where we fell short and need to do better.  However, if you want to create the right mindset with your team, start with celebration. It is scientifically proven that focusing on the positive allows human beings to access higher levels of thinking awareness and creativity in their brains.  The true impact of celebration is learning. To learn, we must reflect on what we have done, what we have accomplished, and what allowed us to achieve those results.  This also allows us to see things that may be opportunities, may be incomplete or unmet objectives and to see those things not as failures, but simply things we have learned.  It’s not failure if something was learned. By focusing on the wins and asking your team to create this list of wins; the team recognizes the accomplishments of one another, learns and appreciates the contributions made, understands the things that have worked well, and sees where they were successful.  This allows each team member to experience recognition for achieving their personal and professional objectives.

3) Promote Self-Discovery for Personal Growth

     Gallup StrengthsFinder co-founder, Donald Clifton asked, “what would happen if we focused on what is right with people instead of what is wrong with them?” In our busy lives we do not often get the chance to pause and look within to understand our unique strengths, talents, abilities and preferences.  This type of self awareness provides insights into how we can be more successful in our roles, with our team and in our everyday lives.  The reality is, no one is “well rounded,” not a one of us.  Each and everyone one of us have unique talents that allow us to excel at some things and not at others. This realization is especially powerful for a team, because although people are not well rounded, teams can be.  When the team can appreciate each person for the unique contributions they bring, especially when they vary greatly from their own, the team can begin to function as a powerful cohesive organism.  More and more companies who have made this connection are providing levers like StrengthsFinders and Real Colors to allow their employees not only to discover who they are, what they are really good at and how they can be successful as individuals, but where they fit, what their role is and how they contribute as a valued member of a team.  When this type of personal growth meets company performance, magic happens!  So throw out the old model of expecting your employees to fit into a box.  The untapped potential for your business growth lies in unleashing the unique strengths of your people and figuring out how those strengths work together as a team.  And when they are successful, so are you!

4) Let Them Eat

     Yes, the team that eats together wins! In research that could have implications for organizations that want to enhance team performance, Cornell professors found that teams who eat meals together have better group job performance compared with teams who dine solo. Eating together is personal and intimate.  And that connection spills back over into work.  “From an evolutionary anthropological perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today’s workplaces” said ,” said Kevin Kniffin, an assistant professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. “Given the findings, organizations would do better to consider their expenditures on cafeterias as investments in employee performance”, Kniffin said.  So whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a small snack, make sure to create space for the team to dine together.  The type of connections and camaraderie made during this time will enhance work-ability and results!

5) Do the Hard Things

     When you look back as an individual on your life, the moments where you overcame a great challenge or grew through a trial or hardship, likely are imprinted on your mind.  A feeling of accomplishment, some piece of who you are, or what you credit with a success may very well spring to mind out of doing one of these hard things.  The same rings true for a group of people who accomplish something that they could not have done on their own, as an individual.   When a group of people come together around a challenge, trust builds and bonds are formed.  There are no shortage of hard things to decide upon, but your team builder should include something that challenges the group and creates a necessity to work together to solve.  Whether it’s an “escape the room” type event, coming up with a strategic action plan for next quarter that will deliver the desired results, building something together, completing a puzzle where they all have a necessary piece, a physical challenge where they will need to support one another...take your pick...the hard things are there, we must merely have the will to commit.  When your team can work together doing something hard, they learn to rely on and trust one another, to appreciate the unique strengths and abilities of each member of the team and they form bonds that will be the cornerstones for future accomplishments.  Do the hard things...and do them together.  

These concepts are simple, but they take intentional thought and focus.  The reality is great teams don’t just miraculously happen.  They are built...created...deliberately sculpted.  But if your team is not together, does not trust one another, is afraid to be real and challenge one another, they will slow down progress, incite chaos and confusion, waste time, deplete innovation and make things pretty miserable. But a great team is greater than the sum of their parts...a team can create magic, inspire one another, lift each other up beyond assumed potential, deliver the day, the number, the year, and win the game!  Team Building is your opportunity, leader, to create your ripple...what will it be?  What kind of team do you want? Start with these 5 steps to create an epic team builder and build that team!

Although #people are not well rounded, #teams can be from @LTPAdvantage. #LiveintheLight #Strengths #Gallup

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Georgi Feidler, founder/advisor for LTP Advantage, is an HR leader, speaker and Gallup Strengths Coach specializing in rethinking HR, employee engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/leadership career has spanned the last 15 years where she has served business owners and executives from Tech/SaaS Start-ups to Fortune 500 companies and everything in between. She dreams of a world where people are passionately engaged in their work and wants to light the path for personal growth to drive company performance. You can also follow her on Twitter to keep posted on what she is up to. 

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