The best way to kick off this topic is to check out this short (like 2 minute) video from Nick Shackleton-Jones - A guru of mine when it comes to all things experience + learning.
If you are serious then about creating a meaningful learning experience for your team then you need to think about doing 3 things well. This is by no means exhaustive by the way (in fact it is really just the basics!) but if you start here you are well on your way.
So how do you do it?
It may seem obvious but the most important part of any training / team building event is the outcome that you are seeking to achieve by the end of it. When you have a budget the tempting thing to do is to spend it, especially if the activity you are thinking of taking part in sounds like it could be fun or different to the usual training courses you sit through.
Most organisations will choose a staff engagement day or wellbeing event based on WHAT the delivery method is rather than think about WHY that delivery method is being used. Now do not get me wrong, I love go-karting and paintballing as much as the next adrenaline junkie but it is not always the best way to improve leadership and communication skills (although thinking about it I would love that challenge!! 🤣🤣).
Events that work best are those that get people to work directly with each other in a group setting, have lots of communication as well as points which push the participants out of their comfort zone - Indeed these parts are usually the things that people remember most! You should also be thinking about something which allows you to 'press pause' on an activity at any stage so participants can reflect and change behaviour if necessary - When facilitated well this can be a highly effective learning technique!
2. Use a good facilitator
Why did you hire a professional branding company when you could design your logo on Canva for free? Same reason you use a professional to facilitate an event where you are trying to move towards particular outcomes, it works!
Now, that being said it is possible to use someone internal provided they have the requisite skills and normally if they do not work with or close to the staff who are taking part in the event. Remember that you will need to ensure the individual is comfortable with public speaking, event organisation and management, risk assessment, equipment usage and hire (if necessary) and any other related items.
Already sounds like a hassle doesn't it? Use an external facilitator - Chances are if you are reading this blog you are already considering it but it will add real value to your event or experience.
We enjoy what we do because we look at behaviour based on what we see and what we understand as norms related to our leadership theories and understanding of group psychology. We do not bring any baggage, like 'oh well Graeme is always bossy' - We assess things at face value and provide honest and balanced feedback to employers and participants.
3. Organise a follow up
I am not 100% sure why but it seems like a lot of companies organise a 'team-building' event as a one-off activity related to a reward or before a night out. This is fine by the way, I have been on my fair share of good and bad ones but you are missing a trick if you take part in a personal development experience and do not follow up or have a system to measure what has changed.
First thing to do is to grab a huddle a couple of weeks later and ask participants to name 2 examples of when they 'used positive re-enforcement with a colleague' or 'built consensus with their team before making a decision' as an example. If you set this up at the end of activity you will see an increased awareness of staff engaging with the techniques they have developed and you may be surprised by the results!
Overall, training does not begin and end with what you experience out of the office, online or in virtual reality, it happens every day you work together and it influences how you communicate, how you make decisions and how you resolve conflict. By using some of these basics though you will improve the effectiveness of learning experiences massively, giving you better return on investment and your staff a more meaningful training event.