Incorporating Team Building activities into your Strategic Planning Sessions

December 20, 2015

Almost all the team building engagements we hold at Playworks are whole-day affairs at out-of-town locations. It’s a great chance for our client’s people to step away from the day-to-day grind of the workplace, bond with their fellow workers, and learn things about how they function as a team, all while having fun.

But not all team building activities have to be like this. Sometimes, incorporating some of them into your company’s strategic planning sessions is all you need.

Recently, we were engaged to facilitate a short series of team building activities for a large petroleum company who were in the midst of a strategic planning session in a hotel ballroom in Makati. Our activities took place late in the afternoon, at the end of a long day of intense discussions on the present and future of our client’s business. Based on the response, it was a rousing success!

These kinds of team building sessions, short ones incorporated into large meetings where business strategy is discussed, can be just as effective as the whole-day, out-of-town, highly physical experiences that most people think of when they think of team building. Here are some reasons why:

You need a change of pace

Long strategic planning sessions can be intense and even contentious. Team building activities can lighten the mood and relieve any mental stress that can build up. Socializing over meals and drinks can do this too but they are not as structured and purposeful.

You’re already thinking about how to achieve strategic goals

The whole purpose of planning sessions is to set your organization’s goals and plan how to achieve them. No business enterprise can succeed without teamwork. In such an atmosphere, problem-solving and cooperation come readily in team building, and natural leaders emerge.

You’re in the right mindset to process and learn

The challenge for our regular team building engagements is getting the participants to really think about what they learn from the activities. Being out of town, it’s understandable that most of them are in “vacation mode” and are simply focused on having fun and bonding with their teammates.

But at a strategic planning session, your minds are focused on working together to achieve goals. The purpose of team building activities are therefore easier to see, and talking about what you’ve learned from them can lead to truly insightful discussion.

You can easily identify people who are assets in the workplace

The beauty of team building is that it brings out people’s true selves. Such activities allow you to see who are naturally good at certain things – leadership, communication, analysis, motivating others. Perceptive managers can use these instances to learn more about their people and identify who are best suited to fulfill certain roles and functions.