A Little History
Team Building has become a cliché in HR circles. The concept of team work in industry really got legs with the emergence of the tech industry in Silicon Valley during the 1970s. The young rebels who founded HP and Apple, for example, discarded the traditional management protocols that had been handed down from the military after World War II. No more suits and ties, office walls and closed doors for these tech gurus. They imagined casually dressed team members living and working together in a completely sealed-off, self-contained corporate environment where everyone could work twenty hours a day, play basketball, dine, and take naps in complete harmony.
Starting with the traditional corporate structure of departments responsible for different functions and objectives (design-engineering-manufacturing-marketing-finance-etc.), the tech founders quickly realized that smaller work groups were needed to focus on specific features of each function. They needed tight-knit teams that worked closely together to accomplish definite goals in specified time frames. These small groups needed to function like the teams described by Coach Wooden at UCLA.
Team building was born. The task to come up with activities that would foster teamwork was immediately assigned to the HR department. In turn, the HR department searched the marketplace for anyone who claimed they knew how to build a team, and an industry emerged. Unfortunately, most of these so-called team builders didn’t know what they were doing. They created artificial games and other “fun” activities that were supposed to be metaphorical team activities meant to suggest real team dynamics. An entire industry that dealt in nothing but nonsense began to thrive in the vacuum created by the need for team building methodology.
A Unique Solution
Nonetheless, molding work groups into effective teams is still a major initiative in HR departments across American industry. Gradually, meeting planners were asked if they could integrate team building objectives into incentive travel programs.
To integrate the two apparently diverse objectives of encouraging teamwork while incentivizing and rewarding superior performance, planners at Premier Meeting Services have developed the following insights into designing effective team building incentive travel.
- Be sure to select perspective team members far in advance.
- Keep the team small. Never arrange team building incentive travel for entire departments.
- Through in-depth interviews and surveys, identify the shared interests of potential team members.
- Avoid all metaphorical exercises.
- Establish mutual objectives.
- Design real world activities that will engage, challenge, and edify team members – like sending everyone to flight school in Arizona or cooking school in Italy or golf school at Pebble Beach or participating in an international chess tournament in Russia or climbing Mt. Everest or saving child beggars from the streets of Calcutta.
- Plan experiences that encourage team members to learn from and about one another.
- Team building incentive travel must be both novel and exciting for all team members in order to encourage enthusiasm throughout the entire exercise.
- Finally, utilizing incentive travel experiences to build a team must be designed to enlist individual team member’s efforts toward a common goal by arranging a shared experience that fosters mutual enthusiasm, understanding, and trust.