Team Building for All Seasons

Team Building for All Seasons

Often, I’m asked during a client consultation (especially from October to March) if it is feasible to conduct a team building session outside. I normally reply yes but insist upon some further discovery.

Many clients, especially those who are traveling to an out of city to a resort area want to take advantage of what the outdoor space has to offer and why not? It always seems a waste to travel to some very scenic locations and spend most of the time indoors looking out.

Some of the essential items on my client conversation checklist include:

Weather Contingency – While its great to experience an outdoor teambuilding session, mother nature doesn’t always cooperate. Years ago, we had one instance at a resort near Huntsville, Ontario where a financial institution had brought in members from their global investments group and wanted to conduct a fun and interactive team event that took place outdoors. This was late October and it snowed 20 cm the night before. Even the local group members were unprepared for the changing conditions. Luckily, we had organized a plan “B” and quickly adjusted the delivery to be mainly inside. The result was a great experience with participants still getting to spend some time outside in areas that did not compromise their footwear or safety.

Clothing List – A recommended list of clothing and personal items should accompany any communication where an outdoor team event is delivered. It shouldn’t mean that participants have to spend a lot of $$ outfitting themselves for an expedition. It should focus on what participants already have (windbreaker, hat, running shoes, water bottle) and take into account local seasonal weather conditions. A recommended list for an outdoor program in Banff in February will likely be different from on for Vancouver or Toronto at the same time.

Client Demographics – Client mobility/accessibility is a consideration in planning and delivering a team experience, especially season to season. Inclusion should be the goal of every program design. Unique roles and responsibilities allow all participants to interact while contributing to the experience and leveraging outcomes.

Venue Partners – Leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the venue partner can make the difference between an ok outcome and a great experience. I have made it a priority to invest in the relationships of our various venue partners both past and present as they are the experts on their own properties. Often times we include them in our planning process as they bring ideas and knowledge we would not otherwise know. In many cases we have designed unique experiences and utilized spaces at venues that have enhanced our clients experience.

Safety and Risk Management – When planning for an outdoor session, seasonal conditions need to be considered. An outdoor surface which is a perfect setting in milder parts of the year can become unsafe and slippery in colder weather. Providers should be able to present their risk management plan to organizations along with their program outlines.