Team away days… Are they just a waste of time and money? Part 1

When I used to be employed as an in-house learning and development manager, I was always being asked by my business units whether I would run a team away day for them. Very often it’s the up-and-coming partner or junior partner who is given the job of organising the department away day. I’m all for a bit of purposeful socialising, or team planning, just not team away days for the sake of them. Sadly, most of the requests I received were in the ‘team days because we haven’t had one for a while’ camp.

In this 3 part article, Jon Baker examines the case for team away days, identifies where team days go wrong, and gives you an 8 point action plan to help you generate an away day which achieves it’s objectives.

Very often partners take their team out of work for the day (or half day), in the hope that it will be a magic bullet, i.e. generate new life into the team, the department and be a beneficial experience….only to find it didn’t work and they wasted money and a whole day of chargeable time.

[quote]The real cost of an away day is not the venue, or the activities you arrange but the cost of the opportunity lost, and potentially low staff engagement if the day goes badly.[/quote]

If you thought “hope that it would generate new life” sounded vague, you’re right. Many team days that I have analysed did not achieve the desired results. Often the root cause of the lack of real tangible results is that the days are badly scoped, resulting in woolly desired outcomes for the day, which leads to poorly structured days.

[quote]woolly desired outcomes = lack of real tangible results[/quote]

The case for away days

Taking the team out of their normal environment to benefit from their experience, knowledge and get them to think differently as a result of being away from the normal routine can literally change the department’s results.

  • Thinking differently: Getting the team to think differently can make a huge difference to performance. People may more willingly adopt new ideas or create them.
  • More effective team: Spending time away from the normal environment, doing something different, often brings the team closer. Afterwards they become a more effective team.
  • Changed routine: A different routine will often generate different ideas, which can create powerful new strategies or willingness to tackle a task. (You may find ‘can swimming change my team’s behaviour‘ useful to read if you are trying to change your team’s behaviour)
  • Motivation: Helping them to take time out from their normal routine, sharing future company issues with them can motivate and inspire.
  • Stronger inter-team relationships: Taking the time out from the day job helps team members get to know each other better. If your team is not co-located or often out on site with clients, these days away together can be vital to recharge relationships between the team members.

Providing a different environment with no interruptions can allow the team to focus on each other and the task. What are the objectives for the team day that you are thinking of, are they clear – and shared with the team?

[box title=”Successful Team Away Days” box_color=”#9f9bb2″] To make sure your next team away day is a success, both before, during and after the day download our FREE guide to running a team away day. (email required) [/box]

In tomorrow’s blog post, Jon is going to look at where team meetings go wrong

Jon BakerJon Baker is a Business Coach, Sales Trainer and Experienced Public Speaker who specialises in working with partners and potential partners from small firms – typically up to 10 partner practices. He helps the professionals with 5 to 50 staff improve their performance and grow their firm, sustainably, profitably and whilst enjoying the experience.

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