Teambuilding: An Essential Part of Meetings
By Betty LeDoux-Morris, CMP
Teambuilding – a term sometimes loosely used for what may be considered “down” time, while others consider it in the true sense of the words - - building a team. I look at it in all ways - - we are fortunate to have a five-acre Executive Challenge Course on property, complete with Climbing Wall, two Leaps of Faith (Pamper Pole), Zip lines, etc.; a creative “outward bound” type set up for those groups wishing to step outside of their comfort zone and travel across a wire 30 ft in the air, while team mates hold the safety cords below.
I mentioned in my first article how teambuilding and group activities are fast becoming an essential part of meetings and that it is something that can generally be taken from an educational budget provided that the right content is included. Dr. Hall, our in-house Challenge Course facilitator, often comments to groups how this is not only stepping out of the box or out of one’s own comfort zone, but is also a great learning tool as any time there is an emotion attached to an experience (in this case, a learning experience), – it sticks. Much like everyone can remember where they were when the planes hit the World Trade Center or on a positive side, details surrounding events at the birth of a child are vividly recalled while one can’t remember a home telephone number. The Executive Challenge Course helps us to help groups provide the scenario for establishing that “foot print” for the attendees. We often encourage groups to have a portion of their meeting out in the woods at our Challenge Course and proceed right from their meeting to either the high or low element exercises. If this is not an option, we recommend that the group do their teambuilding first and then proceed to the meeting (if only one time slot is allowed for the teambuilding). This accomplishes the set up for the information that is to be given to the attendee to stick, and also allows for the members of the group to get to know one another on a very different level.
We have had many groups who incorporate three days of our teambuilding program into their meeting – which would include half days of activities at the Challenge Course, Canoeing on the Hillsborough River, and a more light-hearted event at our Sports Village. Dr. Hall includes a wrap-up or debriefing wherein he recaps to the group what was learned over the last few days. Most of the time, we make sure to capture these events on camera so that the group will have a DVD of the event to take home with them, or at the very least a picture that can be used for a mousepad or monitor screen saver. Seeing these pictures instantly brings a recall to the events of the trip as well as the material covered during the meeting sessions.
In the event the group dynamic is such that the Executive Challenge Course is not a good fit, similar activities can be arranged at our Sports Village. The low elements of the Challenge Course can be reconstructed at the Sports Village with portable equipment and the group can participate in those activities as well as combining the ever-popular Build-A-Boat event. I think many properties offer the Build-a-Boat activity, but we offer the event with several “twist” options. For example, if working with a group that is concentrating on building Leadership; we would interrupt construction of the building process about half way through and ask all the team leaders to come forward and get more equipment. At that time, that group of Leaders would be told that they are forming yet another team and have to start the construction process from the beginning. You can imagine the temporary chaos that is created by this change. . . and another lesson in Leadership and Change is learned.
Light-hearted events poolside or at the Sports Village are also very worthwhile - - either just for fun or with a “message” incorporated into the event. The bottom line in all of teambuilding is – as I mentioned in my first message – is to listen t o the client to understand what they are seeking to gain out of the teambuilding event and be creative to make their message come through all while providing a fun experience for the guests.