Most of the time events are just for fun or they are being held as a reward. Sometimes, however, there is another objective and it's important that the organiser is aware of this. In these situations there are a couple of questions to consider; what is the objective of the event and who needs to be pleased?
In the USA there are team building events and team bonding events. Team building tends to include an element of theory, for example measuring individual and team personalities. Team bonding is typically more activity based and works on the principle of teams bonding through positive shared experiences. At the purely fun end this is social team bonding with no other objective other than enjoyment.
In the UK the whole range of options tends to be described as team building. This is perhaps because in our culture the concept of ‘bonding’ has negative connotations. So, it’s important to make sure that the objective of the event is clearly understood and the most appropriate activities chosen to meet them.
The question of ‘who needs to be pleased?’ is one that often traps the unwary organiser. Whoever delegates the task of organising the event may have preferences about what happens, but that person may also be a messenger. Ask questions until you fully understand why the event is taking place.
It may be an event that regularly happens and everyone just needs to have fun. You should find out if this is a regular event and you will be able to look at the last one and discover what worked, what didn’t and whether there were any issues.
It could be an event that has been kicked off by a manager up the line. If that is the case and, particularly if that manager will be present, it should be a condition of your being involved that you have a chat with that manager and ask the question; ‘what do you want to see?’ If you handle this professionally you will only win the respect of those involved.
An experienced event management company will be able to exactly match objectives to the activities, including any appropriate theory or training elements, provided they know what the objectives are.
One final thought on objectives; less is more. One focused objective or up to three can be worked into an event. If you have too many you dilute each one and run the risk of doing none of it well.