Having recently participated in an ‘away day’ it got me thinking – do the benefits of team days outweigh the costs? I thought I’d look into the pros and cons.
For starters, it needs to be organised. Getting a date in everyone’s diary is such a palaver it begs the question, do we even have time for this?!
Then there’s the preparation … dust off your PowerPoint skills and provide a relevant, interesting and informative presentation to the team (whilst trying to outdo your workmates’ PowerPoint animation/transition talents/abilities …)
The day itself had a bit of a buzz about it by the time it arrived. We were all getting out of the office. We were all presenting. We were all working towards the same thing where we normally work in our own bubbles, liaising with other departments where required. The presentations went ahead without too much debate or controversy, however, what happened throughout was a good understanding of where each team was coming from … what was important to them. Communication that you may feel is ideal may be missing key information to make it at all useful to other departments. It also helped us to see that we are all working towards the same goal; we are all on the same team: it’s easy to lose sight of this …
Open feedback sessions are particularly useful. Ours centred on a key question: What are the barriers to sales? Feedback was slow to start with, but in time, we had a concise list of key points for each department to work on. A very worthwhile output of the meeting which left me thinking, how else would we have achieved that?
With the formal side over, lunch and bowling followed. The atmosphere was excellent. Relaxed and friendly. During the bowling, there was an unusual amount of high fiving (for a British company …). Teams competed and laughs were definitely had. As for the result, well, I’d rather not go into it personally. I don’t want to bog this item down with boring stats … ;-)
I continue to see the benefits of the away day now we're all back in the office. The team mentality is refreshed and invigorated. There is a general feeling of helpfulness between all departments along with laughter over peoples’ bowling styles and performances.
So my conclusion is that the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks and I don’t think that you necessarily need to employ an expensive team building expert to get the same result. The success of most organisations depends on the ability of individuals to build effective teams. We have a great product and a great team. We are motivated, inspired, skilled (not necessarily at bowling) and working effectively together to reach our common goal.