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IDEAS PLEASE – Team event focussing on team building and learning & development


I've used TrainingZone for years, but this will be my first post.  I've been asked to deliver a team event for approximately 45 people.  These individuals work in smaller teams within a large department and include all levels of staff.  The department in which they work has undergone a strategic level review and the senior manager has asked me to focus on 2 key areas on a one day event:

1) Team building including better communication.  The review has identified that staff would like to be more involved in identifying improvement activities, decision making and efficiency savings.  Staff also want better 2-way communication, 

2) Learning and development, with the main emphasis on development.  This should focus on gaining staff's views on how to improve their service, succession planning and opportunities for rotation.  Information and knowledge needs to be better shared within the department.

The key to the development day is not for me to identify solutions.  I want to create an event that will allow staff members to have a voice, to come up with suggestions for change.  I also want to motivate and energise the department as a whole.

I'd be very grateful for suggestions and ideas on exercises that could be used during the day.  I will be facilitating on my own during the day, with support from the senior manager if required.  Ideally, I'd rather do this on my own, simply because I want him to get involved with his team members during the day.  I have one large room and 2 smaller break out rooms available if required.  I'd like high energy, thought provoking and idea-generating sessions!! 

I look forward to hearing from anyone with ideas!!  Many thanks


7 Responses

  1. 2 ideas

    Hi SB

    A couple of ideas spring to mind…

    I'm sure there are better links to how it works but is a great way to facilitate a large group of people to achieve common goals. At the end of the session each team could produce a shield / coat of warms that reflect the team

    I'm not a big lover of doing "energetic" things indoors, it usually feels contrived and a bit like New Years Eve when all you want to do is be quiet and someone is blowing a bazooka in your ear.

    An activity I have done that worked as a team building event was to send small groups out of the building on a "mission" to find things in the local town ie phone number of the baker, number of chimneys on the town hall etc etc…if the teams are mixed up its a good way of meeting others in a non pressured environment. When they return discuss how the team worked? was there a natural leader? did everyone participate? etc etc

    Good luck







  2. Make it real

    Hi there SB, a couple of things; I agree to get the Senior Manager involved in the day but perhaps ask them to 'open' the day with some thoughts about what needs to come out of the day – be really clear and not vague – so what does getting better a 'two-way communication actually mean'  Perhaps they could close the day with a review.

    When I have done things like this in the past, I have tried to get people to think differently by changing the expectations of the people attending about what will happen.  So, for example, people expect to come in and sit down so we haven't had chairs and tables in the room to start the day and the first task is to win them.  I have also been very cagey about what the first task is with just some resources  dotted around the room – the idea is the group have to communicate to agree how the task is completed bacuse they haven't been spoon fed the information.  I have just walked into the room and wrote on a flip chart; first task starts now, you have 30 mins then I leave the room.  I come back in when there's 20 mins to go and write ion the board and then 10 mins etc.  Once that's done, we have reviewed the task and identified if people have dominated the conversation or if some people have took a step back and not really input – this forms a bigger discussion about how and why people communicate.

    We also looked at improving communication by revisiting a real-life work  scenrio that happened where some people received good communication and some people didn't.  We split people into groups to discuss why it was good/bad and to decide how to improve next time.

    I have also done what Steve suggested and sent people off on a mission.  We did a number of things; seeing how far people could travel from the venue and back in the time alloted.  They had to take photos of where they had been to prove how far they had got.  They couldn't drive or use their own vehicles.  Also, we asked the groups to ask for something for free for the largest value they could.  I thought people might be able to 'blag' a mars bar or something.  One team got a pair of women's trousers worth £40 for free from next and someone got some fake tan for free woth £29 from boots.  This was about getting out of their comfort zone – if they could ask in a shop for something for free, surely they could get better at comms.

    Hope that helps.

  3. Nice ‘simple’ exercise to start things off

    I've lifted this from a management development programme I've written as I thought it may be a nice fun exercise (with a serious message) that could be used early in the event to introduce the subject…

    Give each participant ONE of these objectives along with a small number of Smarties. It doesn’t matter if more than one person has the same objective.

    Collect all the red Smarties.

    Collect one Smartie of each colour.

    Collect all the yellow Smarties.

    Collect 6 Smarties of your favourite colour.

    Collect as many pink and brown Smarties as you can.

    Give away all the brown Smarties that you have.

    Make sure that everyone in the group has a green Smartie.

    Distribute the Smarties evenly throughout the group.

    Collect all the green Smarties.

    Make sure that only men have orange Smarties.

    Tell them that they have 5 minutes to achieve their objective. They will need to get out of their seats and move about. Although they may speak, they mustn’t speak about what they are doing or their objective.

    After 5 minutes, ask who has achieved their objective.

    Very few will have.

    Ask why it was difficult. Generate a short discussion.

    Highlight that objectives that we keep to ourselves are harder to achieve: people may do things that make it harder, they won’t help and when we are all at cross purposes, no one achieves anything! Objectives not only need to be set, but they need to be shared, and understood by others.

    Ask: How much easier would it have been if you had all been able to share your objectives? What lessons does that teach us? (Think beyond your immediate team – helping others to understand what you are trying to do and why, can help to reduce internal blockages and silo mentality.)

    Hope this helps 🙂

    Sheridan Webb – Keystone Development and Training Ltd

  4. Great suggestions!

    Sorry for the delay in thanking those of you who have replied – I've been away for a few days.  There are some wonderful suggestions here.  I remember using the "Go out and find things" exercise years ago and had forgotten how good it was.  Although it won't work with this group (I'm delivering in a large building too far from any shops etc) it is certainly one I'll keep in mind for the future.

    The world cafe will work extremely well with the end of day exercise to help participants become involved in moving forward as a department.  

    I love the idea of having a bare room and getting participants to work out what to do, with the emphasis on communication as a feedback session.  The senior manager is very traditional however and I'm not sure he'd 'get it'.  Again, definitely one for the future though!  I'd be really keen to find out more about how you debriefed the session and did you simply write the time remaining each time you entered the room, or did you stay to observe behaviours etc during the exercise?  Did people become exasperated at all?  

    Magic Carpet exercise sounds a lot of fun.  I've checked and there's one individual with back problems and so wouldn't be able to actively participate, however my thinking is to have a few observers for each small group and this would ensure she wasn't singled out as different.

    What a wonderful Smartie exercise too – I wonder how many people will just EAT the Smarties 🙂  (my oldest child, who's 4 would definitely have them scoffed in a flash!)  

    I can't you enough for your suggestions – the feedback you've given has obviously taken some time to type out.  I really appreciate it, and hope that I can reciprocate at some point in the future!

    Best wishes



    My apologies, the final para should begin "I can't THANK you enough!"

  6. Team event thoughts

    Hi SB

    I don't have too many thoughts re- ideas for exercises although Magic Carpet is quite a good exercise as an energiser. It's short, fun and literally gets people 'working closely' to achieve an objective. Syndicate groups start by all standing on a 'carpet' (actual piece of mat or I've used a piece of thick plastic in past as it folds and stores nicely) . The objective is to turn the carpet over without getting off the carpet. Full exercise is at Building Exercise 2). Beware of health and safety re- people stretching and bad backs etc.

    I believe that the key to any team building event is careful feedback after each exercise. Without this, the event becomes just a fun, jolly day out but the 'so what' isn't explored. At the same web page as above is a 'Process Checklist' to adapt and use. It's best used to help the team review the exercise and focus their feedback on specific areas of team building.

    Hope that helps


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