What You Need To Know About Large Group Team Building
Team building activities are a great resource to create cohesion between employees; however, large group team building experiences can be very difficult to organize groups or companies of 75 employees or more.
A company’s productivity is directly linked to the trust the team members have for each other. Through team building experiences, employees build more trust and develop communication and collaboration skills as well as provide the opportunity for people to share a laugh and connect on a deeper level.
Planning a team building experience for a large group often comes with a large price tag and can take thousands of work hours to organize; however, Odyssey Teams has been delivering team building experiences to companies of 5000+ employees since 1991 and has the process down to an art and a science. In fact, we even offer large group team building experiences for 100% virtual teams!
When bringing a large group of people for such an in-person or virtual event, there are a few tips to help you get prepared so that everyone will receive the maximum impact of the give-back team building activity.
Before Organizing A Large Group Team Building Event
For any size group, the first thing to consider is why you (or the client) are planning this team-building event. What are the top 3-4 outcomes that would make the investment of money, time and human capital worthwhile? Identifying these goals ahead of time will drive the rest of the planning and will ensure a productive and worthwhile experience.
Another thing to consider is the overall company and team climate. Are there any hostile interactions between team members? A general indifference around the office? These are the kinds of questions to ask yourself in the early planning stage as the answers will help you determine what needs to be addressed during the team building event. The general interactions between employees are an overall barometer to figure out what kind of team building activity is right for your team.
For example, if there is some bad-blood or general hostility towards team members, our Play-It-Forward program might be a great way to break down barriers and get teams communicating while actually playing. Employees will spend their time in this team building event creating bean-bag toss games to later tap into their inner-child and play the game with special-needs adults. Using fun competition is a great way to turn aggressive behavior into collaboration and release tension.
If the general workplace climate is full of indifference and coworkers are simply coworkers without any personal connections, Team Mosaic Give™ can be the secret to uniting the workforce on a deeper level. Through this team building experience, employees are asked to discuss common values, themes, and goals and come up with a singular vision for the company while engaging their creative powers. This process opens-up communication between people, fosters empathy and helps employees move past indifference by getting people out of their comfort zones and uniting them behind a singular mission.
When, Where & Who For Optimal Large Events
Once you have decided on the general theme and the ‘why’ of the team building experience, the next things to consider are where, when and who to host the large group team building event.
Taking employees off company property and having them engage within a new space can be stimulating but also costly.
Instead of renting out a large, potentially expensive location, utilizing a large space at your company’s headquarters is often a good alternative. The team building experience can make the office feel like a place of camaraderie which only adds to the increase of rapport.
And of course, there is always the option of hosting a team building event with Odyssey Teams where everyone is participating from their home computer! We call this our Virtual & Valuable Team Building experience.
Also it’s important to look beyond Human Resources to plan these types of events. Members of HR often do not have the event experience necessary to manage a large group team building activity. Much like any other job in a business, you want to have someone who has the experience and is qualified to ensure a successful event.
Hiring a facilitator, or a group like Odyssey Teams, to help organize your large group team building event is often ideal. With an outside facilitator, everyone on the team is equally distanced from the event leadership which allows the team to function more naturally.
Best Team Building Experiences For Large Groups
The most popular events for large (and small groups) is often by default, the cocktail reception. This usually stems from planners feeling like they don’t have time in the agenda for ’team-building’ so they plug in and/or lengthen a cocktail reception. Beyond that, clients mention to us that in the past they have considered things like ‘stuff a bear’, bag canned goods, play putt-putt golf, do a photo treasure hunt, assemble care packages; however, these experiences usually feel like ‘structured recess’ and populate the notion that ’team-building’ isn’t vital.
At Odyssey Teams, we offer team building experiences that have valuable CSR components which emotionally anchor people to the connections that they make during the session to their self, their team, and their company. For example, with our Life Cycles™ program, participants build bikes that are later donated to deserving children in the community. When a large group participates in Life Cycles, hundreds of children will receive a free bicycle.
We also firmly believe that having a keynote speaker anchors the large team building event, which provides an incredible amount of value for the company. A group that experiences a powerful mindshift with a seasoned keynote speaker can unite even the largest of companies.
Breaking It Down For Large Groups
One of the most effective ways to build teams within a large group is to break the large group up into mini-teams and have them experience the same activities.
When to break up a group into smaller numbers depends upon the content of the overall team-building session. At Odyssey Teams, we believe an overall common experience for the entire group (100-1500px) is extremely valuable, but we also always incorporate an opportunity for people to break into smaller groups (3-15 people) during the larger session. A more intimate setting is ideal for the connection, engagement, and exploration of the topic. The nature of a smaller groups allows for more intimacy and an environment where people can go deeper into the topics they need to address.
Ending With An Emotional Connection
The memory of everyone working together begins to replace team issues and turns coworker indifference into a shared experience. These pay-it-back activities aren’t done for the paycheck or out of a skill set collected, they revolve around empathy that then turns into a rapport between the team members. This memory of personal interaction is the most impactful and it gives large groups of 100+ a common footing to open up dialogues between each other. They all have a memory that gets them to smile and laugh with one another. It is a mission accomplished moment.
From Odyssey Teams’ 25+ years of experience facilitating team building events for large groups, the most successful provide an opportunity for people to do three things: think, do and feel. Thinking means opening and shifting perspectives. Doing is literally participating in a hands on, interactive experience. And feeling means creating an emotional anchor to what they’ve learned.
Highly successful team building programs work best when they combine those three things – thinking, feeling and doing with expert facilitation. At Odyssey Teams, we go one step further and always include a ‘give back’/CSR component which brings the client partner’s theme, values, and mission to life into a very powerful experience.
Our Life Cycles™ program is one that Odyssey Teams invented over 20 years ago and has a strong emotional anchor. Life Cycles™ is copied by many, but Odyssey Teams still has the original magic sauce that makes it a profound, compelling, insightful and valuable experience for all involved, regardless of any group size. Without going into too much detail on our ‘secret sauce’, it really has to do with those components mentioned earlier – giving participants something to think, feel and do and having it delivered by an expert facilitator.
Now, It’s Up To You!
Now you’re ready to go off and begin planning your large group team building event. By following these tips, it is possible to increase the connections in the group, facilitate better communication within the entire organization, improve collaboration and incorporate a bit of fun too.
If a large group team building event is done properly, participants will leave the program saying, “I’ve been with this company for over 20 years, and this has been the most profound, valuable, engaging session I’ve ever been to.”
If you have any questions or need help getting the ball rolling for your large team building event, please contact Odyssey Teams. We’re always happy to help first-timers as well as improve upon successful events of years past.
Good luck and bond well!