What to Expect From Action-Based Teambuilding
Dominic Cataldo, MLIR owns one of the oldest experiential, activity-based teambuilding companies in upstate New York. He has published an article on experiential teambuilding entitled “How to Get Off to the Right Start” in the Association for Experiential Education’s Horizon newsletter. His company, OnTarget Teambuilding LLC, has continually maintained a 5 star rating with the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. When he’s not helping his client’s work teams achieve their objectives, he’s busy kayaking, fishing, gardening, writing haiku, and being a father.
Action-based teambuilding, also called experiential teambuilding, can be traced back to 1941 with the beginning of the Outward Bound Program in America. This training method encouraged individuals to test their physical and emotional limits in challenging outdoor adventure situations. Project Adventure, a company outside Boston, expanded use of this approach in the early 1970’s, using it for indoor and outdoor school training programs.
Since then, experiential teambuilding has become accepted world-wide as a proven method for improving team efficiency, effectiveness and problem-solving abilities. From class rooms to board rooms – in every industry – addressing any kind of organizational objectives – if your group is willing to step outside the box of traditional training and find excitement in actively participating in your own dynamic learning process, you can find success with experiential teambuilding. (Photo courtesy of Leadership Tech Valley program)
Photo courtesy of Leadership Tech Valley program
The Initial Interview – Target objectives
Before any training can be scheduled, engage your facilitator with key management stakeholders for a scoping interview to determine the objectives for the training. The following questions are often used as a starting point:
- What do you want this group to accomplish?
- What do you want to be different about this group after our training together?
Other information gathered during this interview includes the group size, age, tenure, and gender demographics of your company, preference for indoor or outdoor locations, preferred length of training, and other information that may help in designing an effective training agenda.
Next, your facilitator will develop a customized training program consisting of chosen activities modified to meet the target objectives set by the stakeholders.
Three main types of training activities are used depending on the interpersonal dynamics and communication patterns that already exist in the group.
- Acquaintance activities: These activities provide opportunities for members to get to know each other and begin feeling comfortable with each other. The activities are primarily fun, non-threatening and group based.
- Deinhibitizer activities: This type of activity allows members to take minimal risks as well as enhance group commitment. These activities allow participants to view themselves as more capable and comfortable in front of others.
- Problem-solving activities: These activities require the highest level of communication, cooperation, and compromise. Through trial-and-error participation in increasingly difficult problem solving activities, the group develops and refines new skills which can then be applied in the workplace on real-life, organizational objectives.
It’s important to take time to process your group’s experience. A focused debrief is essential to help your group use the lessons learned as a springboard to accomplish the objectives identified in the initial interview. Without skillful debriefings during the training, the group may have bonded and enjoyed their time together, but an important, work-related opportunity for team growth and improved effectiveness will be lost.
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