Ben Parkinson has been helping companies deliver their corporate messages through unique and innovative experiences for over 20 years. As a co-founder of Blue Hat Teambuilding, his company has been recognised over 40 times by the main industry awards bodies. Over 1 million people in over 50 countries have experienced a Blue Hat team event, giving an average rating of over 98%. Ben’s seen it all – the good, the bad and the truly cringeworthy. In this first of two blogs for meetingsclub, Ben asks what team building actually is and shares how things have changed since the days of ropes, planks and barrels!
Getting any team together particularly at the start of the financial year is a crucial part of refocusing individuals on corporate priorities and of course setting new objectives for the year ahead. If you’re a PA, EA or Event organiser and have a team meeting planned, how do you get to get the most out of your time together?
Having helped thousands of companies to get their message across to their teams in a meaningful, we’ve 8 TOP TIPS to help you plan, focus, energise and change your team behaviours to help you reach your corporate aspirations.
1.Decide what a successful meeting looks like before you start to plan it.
When asked to organise an event the first thing we ask is, ‘how will you know if your event has been a success?’ Too often the answer we receive is, ‘I don’t know’. Spend time with the key people in your team to decide exactly what you are trying to achieve and why. Make sure this is then communicated in every aspect of your event brief, so the event that you create does what you need it to do. If you are having difficulty in working this out, you are not alone. Don’t be shy in asking for help. A decent third party consultancy will ask the right questions to help you find the answers you’re looking for. As they won’t be intertwined in your office politics, they’ll help you arrive at the right answers quickly and efficiently. You can then start to focus on the content and delivery method.
2.Don’t dilute the message.
If you’re like every other company we’ve come across, you’ll have lots of great stuff to say to your teams. The problem is, the more you tell them, the less they’ll remember. Instead, pick one main message and stick to it through the entire meeting. The team will come away with a really clear picture of what they are required to achieve and are more likely to remember it and behave accordingly. The detail can come later and be filtered down from line managers consistently and regularly over the next 12 months.
3.Get your people in the optimum learning state.
The optimum learning state is one where an individual listens proactively, understands more readily and remembers for longer. The better you can achieve this, the more effective your meeting is going to be. There’s lots of ways to help achieve this and here are a few examples; Keep message delivery fresh and interesting, use different spaces at a venue, spend some time outside, create interactive sessions where the team discover the message rather than just be told it, create a shared experience that the team will remember long after the day is over, find ways to do the standard things differently to create surprise and interesting talking points. Achieve this and you’ll keep people’s brains turned on in anticipation of the next piece of information.
4.Create an anchor.
An anchor is a point in time that people associate with something physical (typically through one or more of the 5 senses). Create a positive memorable experience that individuals associate with your key message or desired behaviours. Then throughout the year, you can remind your team in different ways (show photos or video of the day, repeating an unusual food option in the staff canteen, reproduce a noise or smell at your offices) to help bring them back to the main corporate priorities highlighted on the kick off day.
5.Offsite or at the office?
From our vast experience, we’d recommend an offsite venue almost every time. In terms of state management, you want to take people away from the everyday office environment. This will help them focus on you and your message. Typically we’d recommend unusual venues that create interest and a talking point to help create the all-important anchor. There are lots to choose from on the Meetings Club website.
6.Telling is not selling.
PowerPoint is a really useful tool but try to avoid rattling off countless presentations. Human beings find it difficult to maintain concentration when being talked at. They much prefer to do the talking. Which means you need interactive sessions to engage your team in the message. Create an experience where the team discover the message in their own unique way. Self-discovery is the most powerful form of learning. If people ‘discover’ the key points of what you are trying to get across, they’ll more likely buy into them.
7.The follow up.
So you’ve had your day and you’ve ticked the ‘message delivered’ box. Now you can sit back, relax and watch the team deliver – right? Wrong! Unfortunately life isn’t quite that easy. Your team will need constant refocusing on the corporate message and priorities. Doing so will help them stay aligned and help them make better decisions each day. As part of your plan for the day, create a series of interventions for the following 12 months to help keep everyone on track.
8.Don’t forget to have fun together!
You spend more time with your colleagues than you do with your life partner! The better you know each other, the more comfortable you’ll be in each other’s company. And this means the communication between individuals will flow that much more easily. Which is good for business!