Recently I had the great fortune to take a company trip to Las Vegas. Not to do work. To have a ball. I work at an awesome place. A company trip is not what makes a place awesome. It is many, many things. Valuing its people is one. Investing in their happiness is another. I see company trips in this vein.
Team building is one of those phrases that has been worn out by its misuse how often it fails to achieve its intended goal. I believe in team building exercises. I think that events where a group of coworkers leave with a better understanding of their other coworkers and a good feeling about their organization is cool to the Nth degree. I think a forced exercise where a team's best memory is that they got a chance to go home earlier than a normal work day has missed the point and is lame.
A company trip is on the big boy end of a team building exercise. The funny part is that I have only seen small companies do it. I have been a part of two companies that do this. Both were small businesses. I totally get that medium and large businesses cannot do this. Global Enterprises are right out! Can you imagine every Mobil Oil employee stopping work and going to hang out together for a few days. Can you imagine them all descending on a vacation spot? Can you imagine them booking flights? I would love to see that budget and how it impacts the stock market.
I suggest if a small business does this sort of event to consider a few things to make the most of it.
Consider your team members in choice of local and activities. There are cultural standards behaviors that would make certain locations and activities better suited to individual teams. My company chooses Vegas and it looks to work really well. We had an opportunity to do almost anything during the days, and we had required team based events at night. I think you can do almost anything in Vegas. I mean that in the good way. Also make sure to evaluate this with each trip. If you experience high growth, your organization may be totally different from one year to the next. What was cool two years ago, may be lost on your current team.
Allow the team to be part of the planning. Planning a company trip is a huge event and can drive a small group of people or a single individual crazy. I think allowing your people to volunteer to assist with this endeavor is a cool way to begin the team building way before the trip even happens. My company has seen a rapid pace of growth over the past year. Their is a group of leaders that have been a part of the company for some time and take on the responsibility to get it all done. We have recently taken on a really cool Executive Administrator. She is a marvel and did a ton by herself. I saw an opportunity to help and have requested to be a part of this for the next year. I am pretty excited and can't wait to help with it.
Events should be very well explained. As with anything that you ask your teams to do. If it requires clear direction, you should give clear direction. The last thing a team member wants to do is seem like a failure/screw up in front of their team. Directions are also different from goals. Understanding what the we are trying to accomplish is always beautiful. Directions and goals are different from reasoning. Know why you are doing something is a valuable move that has no cost and has infinite returns.
The more competitive your industry, the more cooperative your events should be. If you have an intense sales organization I suggest events that get your people to work as a team to accomplish a goal. If you have a team based organization that has to do everything together to move ahead I think friendly competitive events are cool. My company is a consulting firm. We are spread across the country. We can take a little bit of competitiveness in our events. Most of our events throughout the year are about getting us together from our disparate locations and clients. I have worked for a highly competitive sales organization where deals where lifestyle altering. Those company trips involved a lot of casual carousing. Even a friendly sports games usually had a bloody something at the end because of the crazy levels of competition among the team members.
Let them know how big this is. It is my experience that team member sometimes to not realize how much of a big deal it is that a company does the company trip thing. I think the team should know what goes into an experience like this. I always say if you care about something you invest time, effort, emotion, and resources towards it. Let the team know about this investment. I believe that if the team is not aware of this investment, eventually some segment of the unappreciative populace is going to ruin our good thing…