The team away-day: Waste of time, or critical performance improver?

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9 ideas to ensure your team away-day actually works. Most business owners with a team want to improve the communications within their team and encourage “different thinking”. Generating a new perspective on an issue can be powerful for one person, imagine what it can do for a team.

The average “team away-day” is badly structured and not really about generating alternative thought; so it fails.

Some have taken their team out of work for the day (or half day), in the hope that it would generate new life into the team, the firm and be a beneficial experience….only to find it didn’t work and they wasted money and a whole day of chargeable time.

There’s the problem!  If you thought “hope that it would generate new life” sounded vague, you’re right. Most team days I analysed did not achieve the desired results, because the objective was too vague and not possible to achieve.

The case for a team away-day

Taking your team out of their normal environment to benefit from their experience, knowledge and get them to think differently as a result of being away from the normal routine can quite literally change results for your firm.

  • Thinking differently: Getting the team to think differently can make a huge difference to performance. People may be more willing to adopt new ideas, or create them.
  • More effective team: Spending time away from the normal environment, doing something different, can bring the team closer. Afterwards they become a more effective team.
  • Changed routine: A different routine will often generate different ideas, which can create powerful new strategies or willingness to tackle a task.
  • Motivation: Helping them to take time out from their normal routine, sharing future company issues with them can motivate and inspire.

Team awayday - how to make them work
Providing a different environment with no interruptions can allow the team to focus on each other and the task. What are the objectives for your team awaydays, are they clear and shared with the team?

Where do team awaydays all go wrong?

Having seen hundreds of team awaydays, I’ve interviewed delegates, organisers and facilitators. These are the things that go wrong time and time again, fix these and you’ll have a great team away-day.

The trouble is that the average “team away-day” is badly structured and not really about generating alternative thought; so it fails.

  • Objectives: Unless you are clear what you want and how you will know if you achieved it, it won’t work.
  • Congruence: Imagine a team believing that they are badly treated being taken out for a day and told that they are now going to be well treated (yes, this does happen). Most delegates will immediately switch off. Your behaviours before the session need to be congruent with what you hope for.
  • Follow up: Everybody had a great day; listened to a presentation from the boss, split into groups, discussed ideas and by the end of the day filled up a big flipchart with the ideas. Excitedly people return to work, but in the days that follow they hear……nothing.
  • Done it all before: Some teams have been on similar events many times, to them it ceases to be different. This is made worse if they have previously seen no real benefits.
  • Communication: The team know that there is an event, but don’t really know what it is about or for. Some of them are already thinking “waste of time, I have work to do”. Springing lots of new ideas on them sends it down like a lead balloon.
  • Facilitation: The person managing the discussion doesn’t do a good job. Perhaps some people don’t get heard, while others have too much “air time”. Perhaps the facilitator doesn’t understand what’s going on!

Have you run a team away-day that worked well? I’d love to hear about it.

Written by Jon Baker. I work with small business owners who want to achieve sane success. You started your own business to be successful and improve your life, not stress it out due to pressure. I would love to discuss any of the matters in this article, feel free to email me.



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