Team building events have become a significant part of every team’s success and, in extension, the survival of the business as a whole.
The foundation to every successful team building activity is built on the facilitator who leads it. Facilitation can improve businesses by allowing people to work more cohesively and tackle problems head-on. Subsequently, this leads to rising the team’s productivity and its mood, in general. Who doesn’t want that?
Are all team building events facilitated? Absolutely not, they’re more of an add-on. A lot of team building companies will offer activities that will improve team cohesion, however, they do not delve into the nitty-gritty detail on where the problems lie and how to combat them. Therefore, if your team is taking part in a team building activity for a more serious reason then facilitation is key.
So how can you make sure you are choosing the best facilitator? In this post, we have gathered our top tips to help you do just that. If you follow these, you can rest assured you will never make a poor choice!
Why do You Need a facilitator?
Choosing your team building activity and choosing your facilitator are two different things that require different thought processes but they have the same starting point and that is to figure out your main goal. What do you want to achieve? Where are the bottlenecks?
A mistake a lot of companies make is that they feel like they need to tick a box with team building – ‘We have to do one a year’ — without giving much thought to what can be gained from it. Even if you think you have the perfect team, there is always something that can be improved.
On the surface, you might be looking for a fun day out but, most likely, if the company is spending thousands of pounds on this activity, someone is expecting tangible outcomes. So, before you even begin to think about an activity or a facilitator make sure to write down the goals that have to be achieved.
Note: Learn how to organise team building activities that people will love.
Once you have planned the team building event and know what you want to get out of it, it is time to think about your facilitator. Do not rush this process, a great facilitator will enhance your event whereas a poor one will doom it! Treat the task of finding one just like you would treat shopping around for the best deal on a laptop. Browsing around is key! There are many out there and you will be able to gather a good list by just doing a good old Google search.
…they also have to deliver uncomfortable news to employees about their performance… A good facilitator is assertive and calm.
You may also ask the company that is booking your team building activity. A lot of these agencies will have a range of facilitators they use on a regular basis or even have in-house facilitators who are extremely familiar with their events. Finally, the likelihood is this will not be the first time your company is going to search for a facilitator, find out from other departments who they have used before and if they would recommend them.
Always use the feedback from inter-departments on facilitators, they can give you a real insight into what worked well for them and what didn’t. When searching for your facilitator make sure you get a ballpark figure on costs. Make sure it fits within your budget! Ask them what their basis is for charging, a big question is if they charge by day or event. Keep in mind that a good facilitator will want to spend a day with the team or manager before they even take part in a team building activity – this meeting may or may not be included in the final fee.
The Facilitator’s Attitude
Once you’ve selected a candidate, check for their references and contact them. A true professional will have them at hand and won’t mind sharing them with you.
Your facilitator must be positive and forward-thinking. At the end of the day, this person could make or break the team building activity which is why they really need to engage. The facilitator needs to be excited about the task and bring a lot of energy while, at the same time, remain professional and analyse the employees’ behaviour. It’s not an easy job!
Watch out for red flags. If they start to give in to the negativities of the team, the same negativities that made you decide to have a team building activity in the first place, then it will be very difficult to bring around an effective outcome. Sometimes, they also have to deliver uncomfortable news to employees about their performance and this needs to be done in a concise manner. A good facilitator is assertive and calm.
After the event, the best facilitators will 100% ask for feedback and won’t have a problem sharing their success with you.
Find Out Their Approach
After fully briefing the facilitator on your team and what sort of activity you are looking into, you need to ask one very important question, ‘How are you going to approach this?’ Make sure you have a full understanding of the course of action they are going to take. The facilitator should start by meeting with the manager of the team a few weeks before the event.
This meeting should consist of the facilitator listening to you! You need to explain the current issues, what you want your end goal to be and how you personally think this can be achieved. Then they should ask a few questions about the group. You need to be as open as possible.
Remember, this will be just an initial guide to give you an idea of the way they work. After the meeting, the facilitator should put together a draft agenda on how the team building event will run and what they expect to get out of it. Within the agenda, you should be able to see a clear step-by-step process of how the activities will lead to the intended outcome.
Once you have received this agenda, the facilitator should set up another meeting. They can then walk you through the whole thing and make sure you are happy with their approach. Ask questions! Almost test them on how they would handle situations. For example, if you have a member of the team who is extremely quiet and usually gets spoken over by more vocal colleagues, ask how they would help them step up.
Make sure you are happy with the response and that it’s not a general approach to the issue. It needs to be specifically tailored to your team. This is when you realise if this person is a worthwhile investment! It is vital that you set time aside to plan for this team building activity with the facilitator and other organisers of the event to gain the full benefits of the day.
About the Author
Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd – One of the best event agencies in London, providing corporate event management, incentive travel, conference planning, venue finding services and corporate team building activities. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago; as time progressed she became an avid event blogger. In her role, her best dive is corporate event ideas and event management tips.
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