Planning a meeting in Las Vegas or attending a convention in Las Vegas and having to organize satellite events?
New Trends in Team Building and Corporate Speakers
Team-building activities and corporate event speakers are two components usually at the top of a meeting planner’s priority list. Luckily, these services are in ample supply in Las Vegas. In the current economy, however, the challenge is not locating a speaker or an activity, but ensuring these components contribute to the event’s ROI.

Including these two meeting elements can add a large chunk to a restricted budget, and many of these companies still demand top dollar for their services, especially high-profile speakers and team-building services with big-name clientele. As a result, meeting planners need to justify that the money spent is contributing to the overall goal of their event.

It’s up to planners to understand their event’s goals, the functions of team building and speakers and what they intend on accomplishing by incorporating one or the other into their meetings.

The New Team in Team Building
Just a few years ago, the term team building was a general concept that included organizing interactive activities for a set group of meeting attendees. The idea behind team-building activities during a corporate event was that employees of the same company would be able to get to know one another outside of a strictly work environment, thereby creating a sense of community that would ultimately lead to productivity.

That sounds like a logical plan-of-action on paper, but unfortunately those intentions don’t always pan out after the event is over and everyone is back in the office. Translating the enthusiasm generated by the event’s team-building session to an exceptional output of work is a hit-and-miss endeavor, but it seems that the problem stems from who is actually participating in the activities. As it turns out, many of the groups engaging in team building activities are not, in fact, teams.

For example, you plan a traditional group survival team-building activity where the objective is to get the participants to work together and come up with the best plan to be saved from the given scenario. The planner’s client has not preselected the team. Instead, the client just gave you instructions to have team building on the agenda, so on goes the activity as scheduled with a hodgepodge of attendees working to complete the fictional scenario. The activity is finished, and the group leaves with a good experience and several new friends. You then assemble a new group and the activity repeats itself.

The problem with this picture is that each group is made up of attendees who have no correlation with each other outside of working for the same company. Chances are, each person works for a different department and are meeting their “team members” for the first time. Despite the immediate bonding providing by the activity, odds are that their interaction with each other back at the office will be limited to a few quick greetings whenever they run into each other on the elevator.

To combat this situation, companies are now putting more thought into how they organize their event agendas, taking particular care to schedule employees according to the departments they work in. For events that are exclusively devoted to team building, companies are now beginning to assemble their groups beforehand. In many cases, these groups are actual teams that are working on current projects for the company, meaning that the participants have already had experience working with each other on complicated tasks.

Team building, then, is now being used to iron out the kinks in the group dynamics of employees that are expected to work together in the office on real-world projects.

Gauging the strengths and weaknesses of each team requires in-house meeting planners to know their fellow employees on a personal basis. In particular, identifying patterns of negative behavior will enable planners to orchestrate team-building activities that will correct the communication flaws between participants. The sidebar on this page identifies seven types of dysfunctional groups that can put a damper on productivity in the office. If a planner knows they will be dealing with one of the listed groups, then an activity should be planned that will pinpoint those specific problem areas.

For example, if you find yourself dealing with a listless team, then organize an activity that requires the group to use creative thinking strategies that will give them the confidence they need to press on with the work assignments that lay ahead. When dealing with a confused team, make sure the team-building activity is geared toward defining individual roles and group expectations, ensuring that they move forward and not backward. There are many options for solving the problems of group behavior, but it’s identifying the troubling characteristics that’s key.

When meeting planners approach a team-building provider, they should be active participants in the organizing process, even if the company is a self-described turnkey institution. Planners shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions. Make sure to find out what activities the company has most experience providing. Does the company offer any system of measuring the success of the activity? Can they customize their services to meet your event needs?

Understanding what’s included in the package will better enable meeting professionals to make sound team-building decisions. Above all else, meeting planners should remember that the team-building services they hire need to provide more than just a diversion, but will enhance and improve the way the participants deal with each other in the work place.

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