The main goals of corporate "away days" are to get colleagues working as a more cohesive group through improved communication and understanding, and by identifying the particular strengths that each member can contribute so that they can function better when working together. There is also a benefit at the individual level, as people are encouraged to take the lead and use their initiative where they perhaps would not normally have the opportunity during a typical office day. This improves self-confidence, which will aid both themself and their team. Team building trips also give the boss the opportunity to see how people act when they are a bit more off guard than they would be in the working environment, they will also highlight any potential problems or weaknesses such as overbearing individuals, or people who are key to the business process yet who are lacking in skills such as delegation or leadership.
The whole process should be fun and engaging, much more so than you would be able to create in an office environment. At the end of the course, the benefits should be noticeable in every individual and in the team as a whole, making your team building day very cost effective. Those benefits are likely to continue into the work environment as colleagues remain inspired by what they learned, understand each other better and put into practice new ways of working together. People who are usually happier working alone or who do not like to tell other people what to do should be encouraged to interact better or pass instructions once they realise the outcome will be better for everyone. And people who like to be in charge but who are not very good at listening to other people's instructions should now be able to see that by listening to others, they could find better ways of working that will make their team more efficient, something that will reflect well on them as leader.
How to organise an activity based team building course
The first thing to think about is your motivation for organising the event in the first place. Are you working with a newly formed team, or trying to overcome some problems with an established team who are not meeting their potential? Or perhaps the course is for two departments who are not working together as well as they should and you are trying to break down a culture of them and us. Knowing the reason behind the team building will help the course organisers better tailor make the sessions to suit your goals.
Secondly, decide how long you want it to last. Some groups may take a whole week, quite a few will opt for a weekend or a midweek stretch of two days, but the most common duration is a single day. The length of time will also dictate what you can achieve. A couple of hours playing paintball or paddling on a reservoir is going to function more as a treat than a true team building event. What you can expect your staff to take away from the day will be limited.
When deciding what type of adventurous activities you would like to participate in, be sure to consider who you are taking with you. Outdoor centres are geared up for everything from a light introduction outdoor pursuits, to quite intensive adventures which require some previous experience and quite a lot of skill. Are your team young, fit and sporty, or are they ranging in age from school leavers to middle aged? Is there anyone with a disability which may affect their participation in certain activities? Make sure your team building course is inclusive - you aren't trying to find out who is the fastest on the assault course so look for activities that involve working together and that aren't particularly demanding.