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Month: February 2022

Team building provides many benefits in improving organizational cohesion and productivity. But what if you have very specific goals or objectives in mind, and none of the activities offered are a perfect fit? That’s where needs assessment and program customization come in, designing and delivering an event that meets your specific requirements.

Virtually all team building programs provide the four core pillars of team building: improved communication, interpersonal relations, engagement, and fun. They help with time and meeting management skills by incorporating a combination of competition and collaboration.

As noted here previously, team building positively impacts employee engagement and loyalty, jumpstarts employee morale, helps make new employees productive more quickly, and creates more effective teams.

But what if you are looking for a team building event to help you deal constructively with a major organizational change, such as a merger or the implementation of new technology? Needs assessment and program customization are the answer to creating an activity that will accomplish your specific goals.

What Exactly is a Needs Assessment?

At Best Corporate Events, our needs assessment is done on three levels. When a client first contacts us, one of our sales representatives will conduct the first-level assessment. Beyond the basic parameters of the event (number of attendees, location, time allotted, etc.), they will also ask about the client’s goals and objectives for the activity, and make recommendations if needed.

In addition, the sales professional will ask about customization and often make suggestions. For example, a client may be interested in arranging a Virtual Jeoparody or Virtual Trivia Blast game, while their company is in the midst of training employees for a new product introduction. In addition to the fun, general knowledge questions in the game, many clients are surprised and pleased to know we can help them craft 10 to 20 of their own company-specific questions.

Once an activity is locked in, a program manager will be assigned and will conduct a second-level assessment, asking deeper questions than the sales team. Finally, the facilitator who will actually be part of the event will ask a third, deepest level of questions around challenges the client may be dealing with and how the team building activity can address their specific issues and objectives.

One key question will be about how teams will be selected. Does the client want to specify which individuals will be on each team, or use an activity to randomize and “mix it up” so that employees are teamed with people they don’t normally work with closely?

Do they want an activity focused on fun competition, with first, second, and third place winners? Or is it a program for a large, highly competitive sales team, where the client wants an activity that will get those employees to think about when it’s best to collaborate, how to do so successfully, and how to learn from each other?

Another very important question is: What types of team building or training activities has the group done before? That leads into an additional series of questions such as: Have they had any experiences that didn’t work out well? If so, why? Were there any training activities or team building events that the client loved? If so, what was it about them that made the experience fantastic?

The answers enable us to either create a unique new workshop for the client, or to replicate a successful past experience for a new group of employees.

When Program Customization Makes Sense (And When it Doesn’t)

In some cases, a client knows pretty much exactly what they want. Perhaps they did a trivia game with their marketing department a few months ago, and loved it. Now they want to do the same type of program for their finance team.

Or they may have done a charitable Bike Build Donation® program last year that had a profound emotional impact on the participants. They may want to repeat the same program, but the company has a relationship with a military support organization, so they want to do a Build-a-Wheelchair® program instead this year.

In those types of situations, the assessment is completed quickly and there is little or no program customization involved. The client is familiar with team building programs and knows exactly what they want.

But more often, the assessment will reveal—or the client will know they have—a need for some level of customization.

Perhaps the company needs to bring together a group of new employees, either because of turnover or growth. Or the business is grappling with a major change, such as the implementation of new technology, developments in their industry, or a merger / acquisition situation. Perhaps employees have been through a challenging period, and the company simply wants to provide them with an opportunity to have fun and recharge.

In any situation where an enterprise is dealing with change or internal challenges, an in-depth assessment is extremely valuable.

One approach is to “start at the end.” What are the outcomes the client is looking for? If they imagine the activity is over, and it was very successful and the employees are walking away not only smiling but also more engaged, what were the factors that made it a success?

Helping clients to articulate their goals for the team building exercise—whether it’s improving collaboration and morale, bonding as a new team, dealing with team conflict or stress, problem solving, getting aligned with a new strategy or direction, or managing change—enables us to develop a workshop, activity, or training program that will be fun, productive, and successful.

The Three Levels of Program Customization

Although the degree of program customization is really a continuum from zero to “extensive,” it can be thought of on three basic levels.

The first level is essentially no customization. There may be some discussion during the assessment about issues such as how to organize the groups, but the program itself isn’t changed. Common examples would be where a client wants a program they’ve done before delivered to a new group, or where the objectives are simply fun competition with collaboration (which all of Best Corporate Events and SmartHunts team building programs deliver!).

The second level is minor customization. The most common examples here are adding some client company-specific questions or information to a trivia game or activity. At these events and programs like A Minute 2 Win It or Team Olympics, every team has a score at the end. You know who came in first, second, and third. Though the activity may be enhanced with some company-specific content, its structure remains the same.

The third level involves the most extensive customization. In professional development programs such as Competition to Collaboration®, the DiSC Profile Workshop, or Igniting Team Performance, success isn’t based on a winning score. It’s what the participants walk away with—the knowledge they have gained and the ideas they can apply in the workplace to improve collaboration and productivity—that really matters.

All of those types of programs help improve time management, meeting management, and communication skills. But they also offer greater opportunity for customization to meet other specific needs or goals for the client.

The Bottom Line Benefits of Needs Assessment and Program Customization

All of our team building programs deliver a common set of core benefits: they improve communication and collaboration, help build relationships, teach time management skills, and they are fun and engaging.

Through needs assessment and program customization, these team building and professional development programs can also be modified to meet specific objectives for clients, from something as simple as how to run more engaging Zoom meetings to managing change, engaging new employees, or combining teams.

And our facilitators use their experience not only to customize activities to meet specific needs, but also to constantly develop new team building and professional development programs to address the challenges our clients face. The best-performing companies conduct team building exercises on a regular basis; these new activities enable them to provide employees with fresh new experiences to continually build upon their success.

Leadership training isn’t just for leaders. If your organization is thinking about leadership training too narrowly, you could be missing out on big opportunities to improve communication, collaboration, and productivity across your enterprise.

Companies often view leadership training as something that’s helpful for new managers, as well as junior managers looking to advance within the organization. But it can actually be helpful for just about everyone in your organization.

That’s because leadership is more than just a title; it’s about how you act and react to people and situations. It’s about improving “people skills” as opposed to technical skills, answering questions such as: How do I communicate more effectively? How do I resolve unproductive conflict? How do I build relationships to help get things done?

Here are several reasons to look at leadership training more broadly.

Today’s Uncertain Labor Market

With record levels of employees voluntarily leaving companies as well as workers taking early retirement, companies are recognizing the need to improve their “bench strength” at every level.

It’s not only about preparing senior director-level talent to move into a VP or CxO role, but also about backfilling director spots, training managers to move into director roles, and preparing talented, ambitious individual contributors to make the move into management.

Leadership training can also help with retention. When employees see that their company is making an investment in them and helping prepare them to advance in their careers, it increases satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.

The “Superstar” Problem

Quite often, the people who get promoted into management positions are those who are strong performers as individual contributors, whether in finance, marketing, operations, or another function.

This is particularly true of salespeople. The hope of management is that by promoting their top-performing sales person into a sales leadership role, they can replicate that strong performance.

But for many people, making the leap from being a strong individual performer to becoming an effective leader is challenging. That individual became very good at accounting, or sales, or whatever their role may have been, by honing their technical skills over many years. Leading others, however, requires a very different skillset.

The problem is that many companies don’t have the structure or training process in place to mentor the new mentor. So, new leaders are left on their own. That’s where leadership training comes in; pulling them out of the office gives them an opportunity to stop and think.

It starts with a behavioral assessment, asking the new leader to look in the mirror first, to be able to say, “This is what drives me in the workplace. This is how I communicate. This is how I interact with people.”

Then we ask them to flip the mirror and say, “Okay, these are the people whom I now work with. How do they behave in the workplace? How do they communicate? How do I interact with them?” Leading becomes less about the leader and more about the team they manage.

It’s Not About You

In making the move from individual contributor to leader, the employee needs to shift their focus from doing a task well to increasing the skills of others. It can be tempting for new leaders to keep “doing the work,” which leads to lack of focus, resentment from the team, and even burn out.

It’s challenging to go from managing one’s own to-do list to leading a team of people, each with their own task lists. An individual who may have been comfortable as an individual contributor in sales or accounting is now being pulled into more meetings, called upon to resolve conflicts, and asked to coach others.

They may know that having regular one-on-one meetings with their team members is part of their role, but they may not understand how to get the most out of these. Those individual conversations are more than just a status check—that can be done with email. They are opportunities to coach, to make sure employees are engaged, and to help them improve their direct or indirect job skills.

Leadership training helps managers to not only do the right things, but to do those things consistently well.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Any work team may include one person who is eager to get promoted; another who loves their role and never wants to get promoted; another who has young children at home and whose focus is therefore on work-life balance; and others, each with their own priorities.

Managing each of those people requires a somewhat different skillset or approach. Being an effective leader requires learning how to recognize and adjust to those different perspectives.

Individuals often under-perform or limit themselves because of obstacles they’ve unconsciously placed in their own way. It may be an attitude, a belief, or a shortcoming they are unaware of.

Leadership training helps managers help employees to recognize the limitations or hurdles they’ve placed in their own way, so they work to change those things. The employee often can’t articulate why they’re not performing; they can’t figure it out. Leaders need to understand different approaches they can try to help the employee see the answers that are right in front of them.

Managing Up, Down, and Across

It’s clear why new leaders and even experienced managers can benefit from leadership training, but what about that employee who loves being an individual contributor and isn’t interested in a promotion to management—how can leadership training benefit them?

First, it helps them learn to “manage up” more proficiently; to influence their boss so they can get what they need in order to be more productive in their job. The basis of leadership training is empathy and communication, which can improve outcomes when an employee is talking to their boss just as much as when the boss is coaching that employee.

Second, it helps people to “manage across” more effectively. A great deal of work today is done collaboratively. Employees rely on others, in their own department or other parts of the business, in order to accomplish goals. The ability to influence others is just as important when working with a peer who is not a direct report as it is when managing and coaching subordinates.

Third, it helps employees to better understand how their manager thinks, and why they do or say certain things. Developing the ability to understand that perspective helps employees to ask better questions when meeting with their manager, and to improve that working relationship.

Finally, most employees value increasing their skills, and appreciate their employer investing in them. This may mean direct skills like sales training or classes with CPE credits. It may mean learning indirectly helpful knowledge like presentation skills. Or it may mean enhancing their interpersonal relationship skills through leadership training.

Wrapping It Up – the Best Leadership Training Programs

Leadership training can benefit virtually every employee in an organization in some way. And it’s a wise investment for companies to make: it helps increase retention, develop bench strength, assist employees with the transition from being strong individual contributors to effective leaders, and help non-management employees better communicate up and across the organization.

Among the key skills employees develop through leadership training are communicating more effectively; resolving conflicts; coaching and developing others; goal setting and time management; strategic thinking; and relationship building.

Leadership and professional development programs offered by Best Corporate Events include:

Conflict Resolution Training

Managing conflict effectively can make the difference between a simple “bump in the road” or lost productivity and long-term animosity in the workplace. Participants learn strategies to engender a workplace culture better equipped to handle conflict.

DiSC Profile Workshop

Participants are introduced to the DiSC Model, a behavior assessment tool that helps professionals understand their own styles of behavior and communication, as well as those of their colleagues.

Learning how to manage these styles can help participants eliminate bad habits, minimize conflict, and improve the overall success of their team.

Manager’s Guide to Business Coaching

Constructive guidance and consistent coaching are critical responsibilities of all managers, but the best managers utilize proven coaching practices that can strengthen relationships, bolster trust, and reap the benefits of open and positive communication.

Emotional Intelligence Training

An Emotionally Intelligent company is one in which each member understands their Emotional Quotient (E.Q.) and how best to tap into it for professional growth. Applying E.I. within an organization can build trust and encourage open communication.

In short, as noted in the opening, leadership training isn’t just for leaders. Employees at all levels can benefit from learning how to productively influence others. These training programs are ultimately about helping your team members better understand each other by first learning more about themselves.

As technology automates more and more simple, linear tasks, more of the work that people do involves collaboration. Put another way, professionals today spend less time on individual, solo tasks than in the past and more time working as part of a team.

New products are designed by teams. New software is developed by teams. Sales are often closed by teams. New system procurement decisions are made by teams. Even this blog post was created by a team (a writer, a facilitator/subject matter expert, an editor/coordinator, and a webmaster).

Our last post, How Team Building Makes New Employees More Productive, Faster, detailed four ways that team building programs help get new (or new-to-the-role) employees up to speed more quickly by helping them get to know, understand, and connect with their coworkers.

Team building also helps teams to be more effective and productive. Regardless of how long each individual member of a team has been employed in the organization, any time a new team is formed there are phases it will pass through before reaching full productivity.

Team building can help accelerate that formation process, helping teams become more productive more quickly. In his classic book on group and team communications, author Donald B. Egolf, Ph.D., defines four stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.

Forming

The forming stage is the “playing nicely together in the sandbox” phase. Everyone is polite, deferential, and on their best behavior. There’s an almost artificial niceness as everyone is feeling things out. This generally lasts only for a relatively brief period of time before teams go into the next stage, storming.

Storming

The storming stage is where conflicts begin to arise. There are behavioral differences that come up. There are certain irritations and annoyances that are surfaced. There are differences of opinion about what’s going to happen, or how to proceed.

Norming

Effective teams work through those issues and move into the norming stage, as they start to figure out how to work together. They ask, “How are we going to operate?” They come up with team agreements. They understand and accept each others’ differences. They define when and how they will communicate, and how they will work together.

Performing

If the team does a good job getting through that norming process, it reaches the performing stage, becoming a high-performing team.

How Team Building Helps

In a typical work environment, teams can languish in those early stages of the forming and storming for a long time as they’re feeling each other out. This is even more of a danger when people are working remotely, as their interactions with each other are much more limited.

Team building activities can accelerate this process; you can get through the forming stage pretty quickly and get into some storming. Storming within groups—having some challenges in a team-building activity—isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually helpful.

It’s not that you want groups constantly struggling at a team-building activity, of course. But having a few frustrations and needing to work things out among team members can be a great thing, because it gives members the tools and knowledge to better understand each other and begin creating some norms.

If they can go through the process of forming, storming, and then creating some norms during their orientation stage when solving an inconsequential team building problem (such as a Crack the Case mystery activity or an Amazing Chase SmartHunt®, as opposed to a real-world business problem), it will help them move through those stages much faster when they’re back in the workplace, and hopefully, reach a high-performing level more quickly.

How long does it take for a new employee to become fully productive? Estimates from different studies vary widely, from six months to eight months to a year to as long as two years.

The process of onboarding a new employee (or a current employee transitioning into a new role) can’t be skipped over or short-circuited. As Dick Grote, performance management consultant and author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals has said, “The idea of a new employee ‘hitting the ground running’ is a farce. You know what happens if you do that? You fall on your face.”

There are many aspects to bringing a new employee up to speed, of course, from learning about the company and its products or services to understanding the requirements of the role and the supporting technology.

But one of the most critical factors is getting to know the people they will be working with. What are each person’s strengths and unique knowledge? Are they outgoing or introverted? A “numbers person” or someone who operates more on gut instinct? Do they like to talk things out, or are they more of a “just the facts” type? Visually oriented? A good listener?

One of the best ways to get new employees productive more quickly is to find a way to get them acquainted with the people they’ll be working with most closely. This will enable them to communicate more effectively with each coworker and avoid missteps or misunderstandings. And the best way to accomplish that is through team building!

Here are four ways team building activities help make new employees (or new-to-the-role employees) more productive, more quickly.

It Breaks Down Barriers

Team building breaks down barriers by removing the shackles of work. It’s not about deadlines and priorities; it’s about addressing communication skills, learning how to deal with conflict, and building relationships at a deeper level.

One of the biggest challenges when starting in a new role is getting to know people well enough to work with them productively. Just being introduced to Jane in accounting is fine, but team building short circuits the process of getting to know coworkers, to really understand what they are like and how to communicate effectively with them. It’s informal, it’s light-hearted, it’s easy, and it’s non-threatening.

In team building exercises, the groups can be departmental but are often cross-functional to help build relationships across the organization. In any case, doing a team building event helps employees break down barriers, create openness, and get to know each other on a more personal level.

It Helps Align Actions with Team Goals

Team building is really about aligning actions with team goals: improve performance, create synergies, and deliver results. The reason to do a team building event/workshop is to get your team firing on all cylinders.

You’ve put together this group of people with different backgrounds and strengths, and you want to leverage all of those strengths. You also want to address any shortcomings someone may have to help with their career development and benefit the team.

Professional development programs are about getting to that next level with a person to make it easier to have challenging discussions. It makes it easier to have a conversation about changing processes or bringing on somebody new, and to align these actions with team goals.

It Builds Connections

Often (particularly in large organizations), teams in different locations need to coordinate efforts. How do you create that connectivity? The challenge goes beyond just holding a team meeting over Zoom. Team-building activities help those groups learn how to solve a problem together and how to include everybody in the solution.

The crux of that is communication skills. Some team members will be alphas, while others are followers. Team building programs require all team members to work together to accomplish the goal. It creates a situation where you align everyone’s individual actions for the greater good.

It Creates a Shared Experience

Team building creates a shared experience that gives people something in common even if they don’t have much otherwise. You may have an extrovert and an introvert, but they built a bike together for a donation. And even if they weren’t on the same team, they can compare how their teams solved a specific problem. They have that shared experience to talk about.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the bottom two layers are physiological needs (food and shelter) and safety. Once those are satisfied, people are looking to be valued, included, to have a seat at the table, to make a difference. That’s what team building does. It checks all those boxes.

Wrapping Up

The faster a new employee can become fully productive, the better it is for everyone involved. It’s good for the business. It’s good for team members who want to be able to rely on each other. And it’s good for the individual new employee, who wants to feel they are spending their work time contributing to the organization—not just watching safety and training videos.

A key component in bringing new employees up to speed is integrating them into the work environment, helping them get to know and understand their coworkers well enough to communicate effectively and avoid misunderstandings.

Programs like escape rooms or our Escape SmartHunt® are great for bringing new employees on board because the clues pull on different strengths: memory, visual, reasoning. By relying on different people’s skillsets, they keep the whole team involved and working collaboratively.

Trivia games or programs like Best Corporate Feud are also effective. They can be customized to include company facts and information, making them educational as well as fun and challenging for new employees.

Finally, any of our charitable CSR programs like our Bike Build Donation®, Build-a-Wheelchair® program, or STEM Backpacks for Kids work well for new employee orientation, as teams work collaboratively to assemble items then donate them to worthy charities. They not only enhance teamwork but also build a memorable, emotional bond.

Team building can help employees get acquainted with the people they’ll be working with most closely and learn how to collaboratively solve problems with the team in a fun and non-threatening setting.

It accelerates team development, breaks down barriers, helps to align actions with team goals, builds connections, and creates a shared experience. In so doing, it helps new employees become more productive, faster.

Welcome to the BEST blog, a collection of team building articles, industry insights and news about our large collection of programs and events offered in locations across North America.

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If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

    If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

    Phone: 800.849.8326
    Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

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    Programs can be delivered anywhere in North America.

      If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

      Phone: 800.849.8326
      Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

      What is a Keynote Speaker?

      Keynote Speaker is an often-misunderstood term associated with simply a motivational speaker, breakout speaker, industry expert, etc. Most professional speakers are not actual trained Keynote Speakers, who are specialists, therefore in much lower supply, and in higher demand.

      Keynote Speakers are experienced, professional communicators who engage an audience, capturing the essence of a client’s meeting. They are able to highlight it to their audience while simultaneously delivering their own key concepts and proprietary content in an entertaining and impactful way. Most companies understand that this specialization is very much worth the time (around an hour) and the investment.

      In order to capture the perfect essence, a Keynote Speaker spends the necessary time researching a client’s industry, their issues, and their audience to craft a customized presentation into a unique and distinctive moment specifically for the client’s event.

      As a top Keynote Speaker, Tom Leu strategically uses compelling storytelling, humor, powerful visuals, audio and video clips, and audience participation elements to weave an impactful message into your event in a fun and memorable way. Tom can also pair his Keynote with Best Corporate Events programming, laying a foundation and setting a tone that best prepares participants for maximum engagement in the forthcoming team events that day.