Team building sessions – do they work?

Group of business people assembling jigsaw puzzle, team support and help concept

I once met with the team leader for a new client who told me he wasn’t too keen on doing the Team Motivation Review his HR Director had contracted me to carry out. When I asked why, he told me that he had spent ‘a small fortune’ on a team building session in the last 6 months and not only were most of the team not very keen, but it made ‘absolutely no difference whatsoever’.

So the question is…..Team Building Sessions, do they work?

Well the short answer is yes, they can, but you must consider a few essential points:

What are the objectives of the Team Building Session?

Obviously the main objective will be bringing the team together, but to what end? Are you hoping to achieve more sales? Perhaps you would like the team to work more effectively together? Are there issues between team members? It is very important to take time to recognise the objectives, before you start planning.

What kind of activity should you pick?

Many activities can be used to create more cohesive teams, but it is essential to pick the right activity for your team and to meet your objectives. If your team like dining out and visiting the theatre in their spare time, then they are unlikely to enjoy orienteering in the Welsh mountains.  It may be a good idea to ask your team what activities they would enjoy, although bear in mind that you can’t please all the people all the time. Also keep in mind that some activities are not conducive to building teams; quad biking for example might be fun, but it is a solo activity and not likely to give any team benefits.

In terms of objectives, if you want to increase sales, find an activity that is sales related, and preferably competitive (but not TOO competitive!).  If you have team cohesion issues, pick an activity that has a defined outcome, where the success of that outcome depends on the team working together.

Hold a pre-meeting

Rather than surprising your team with an announcement of a Team Building Activity, consider holding a pre-meeting with the team. You can use this to outline the idea of Team Building and the aims of the activity, as well as canvassing opinions on what they would like to do and what they would like to get out of it.

This will create a focus for the activity, and you can start to gain the team’s commitment to it before it even starts.

The Team Building Activity is the start, not the end

Ensure that you get the best from your Team Building Session by scheduling a follow-up session on your return. Involve the whole team to get feedback on what they enjoyed, what they feel they got out of the experience and what issues were resolved. You can also pin point any opportunities that may have been missed, or anything that did not go so well.

The most important thing is to capture any actions that you and/or the team need to take to move them forward, and who is going to take ownership of each action (ideally the team would own most of the actions).

So remember to do your preparation and review the activity on your return to ensure you get the best from your Team Building investment.

“But did the team leader commit to the Team Motivation Review?” I hear you ask!  When I explained how we can help him to understand what makes each person tick, if they are enjoying their jobs (and if not, why not, and what can be done about it), and even if they are thinking of leaving, yes he did.  You can see the results in the case studies area of our website.


September 15, 2016 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

The death of the annual appraisal…

The death of the annual appraisal...

The death of the annual appraisal…

A bold statement, but with the news this week that management consultancy firm Accenture have said farewell to the age-old system of annual performance evaluations, perhaps not so uncommon.

Many large corporations including Microsoft and Adobe have also dropped the annual appraisal finding that it saved them money in man hours regained – Adobe’s annual appraisals took up 80,000 hours.  However this is not the only reason organisations are considering removing appraisals completely.  With businesses becoming more dynamic and business processes constantly changing, waiting 12 months to evaluate employee performance makes the appraisal system irrelevant and unfair.  For some, the annual appraisal has become little more than a form filling process followed by an uncomfortable conversation about salaries and bonuses.

But appraisals don’t have to be like this.  I have long been a proponent of regular reviews of employee performance, with the performance aspects of the annual appraisal being a ‘summary’ of ongoing assessment.  This way, the appraisal can be one of the simplest and most enjoyable aspects of a manager’s job, while employees get the opportunity to step away from their day job to discuss what’s on their mind, such as personal and career development.

Here are some top tips for assessing your team’s performance :-

  • Meet regularly to discuss your team member’s performance, the frequency of reviews depends on the role, but I would recommend monthly meetings
  • Regularly gather information for the review by observing the team member, as well as talking to customers, staff and other managers
  • Make sure you both understand how things are going :- 
- is the individual on track?
- what’s going well?
- what needs to change?
- are there any potential issues or obstacles you can help with?
- agree who takes any actions
  • Compare your views of their current ‘rating’.  Then you have time before the appraisal to resolve any differences.
  • Most importantly there should be NO SURPRISES, in any aspect of their performance.  If performance issues occur in the workplaces they should be addressed immediately, not left until the monthly review.  If something comes up the day before, or that morning then postpone the review rather than discussing it during the appraisal.

By implementing this regular review system you can initiate discussions between managers and employees, which produce happier, successful and more productive teams.  This proactive system means change can be effected immediately and your whole organisation will benefit from this dynamic approach.

Oh, and the appraisal will no longer be an onerous, pointless overhead!

June 9, 2016 at 9:22 am Leave a comment

Improving Employees Energy and Motivation


One of the trickiest areas of leading people is understanding the what depletes energy levels in your staff and the impact this has on your business. Emotions like these can bring a whole team down, so it is important to deal with them quickly and positively.

As a leader it is your role to get the best from your team. Energising and motivating your employees should be among your top priorities as a leader because it helps ensure your employees are engaged in their work rather than just checking off tasks on a list and going through the motions.

Showing that you’re interested in your employees’ well-being will go a long way towards establishing a work environment that helps them to feel energised and gives them an outlet for that energy. This will, in turn, maximise business productivity.

If you see signs that your team members may be underperforming or losing motivation, you need to step in before their energy dwindles any further.

Sometimes simple changes can make a big difference. Here are some ideas :

Positive Work Environment

This makes employees feel good about coming to work and provides the motivation to sustain them throughout the day. Employees need to feel comfortable and free to express themselves. Open communication addresses the employee’s need to feel that what they have to say has value. They feel that there is mutual respect among all employees, regardless of their “official statuses”.

Opportunities To Grow

If positions are stagnant, employees can lose motivation and this can affect their work. One way to show employees that you want them to grow professionally is to have one-on-one conversations about personal and professional goals, focusing on how the company can help.

Review development plans regularly, taking people out of their comfort zones and into new areas.

Eliminate Stress

When employees are subjected to too much stress at work they are likely to be less engaged and less productive. Set realistic deadlines, keep projects manageable and maintain a dialogue with workers to see how they’re handling the work assigned to them.

Show Appreciation

Employees work harder and care more about their jobs when their efforts are noticed and rewarded. Appreciation doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. A simple “thank you” is enough. The key is to give regular positive and constructive feedback, not just at annual reviews.

If you take care of your employees and invest time in making them happy, the more energised and motivated they will be. You’ll notice a difference in their performance; they’ll take care of your customers and work better within your team. Your business can only benefit from the maximisation of your employees energy levels.

March 8, 2016 at 11:15 am Leave a comment

CIPD Survey – 31% of employers report a rise in ‘presenteeism’

coffee didn't help, still tired. Supporting hands are needed.

Once again the studies carried out by the CIPD have confirmed a trend that has been worrying us here at Extra Dimension for some time. The survey found that 1 in 3 employers have reported an increase in ‘presenteeism’. For those of you not familiar with this term it means staff coming to work when they are ill, either physically or mentally, for example when they are suffering from stress. Unfortunately, this is not a one-off increase; the report also found that the problem of employees coming into work when they are ill has increased every year for the past 5 years.

The CIPD found that presenteeism is more likely to occur in businesses where long working hours are normal and operational demands are high, which is often the case in larger organisations.

In our experience these increases may also be due to the financial climate (or perception of it), where employees feel pressured to deliver in the face of austerity cuts and additionally may be concerned about losing out on pay or even losing their jobs altogether if they fail to attend.
Finally the report confirmed another fact which we have experienced; employers who report an increase in presenteeism find they experience a correlating increase in long-term stress-related absence within their company.

We know that if you want your team members to work well within your business, you need to take the appropriate steps to make sure you are putting employee wellbeing above, or at least on a par with, the operational demands of your business. When an employee comes into work sick, they won’t be working to the same productivity levels as they would be if they were in good health. This can have a knock on effect to other staff and impact on customer service and perceptions of your business.

Despite these findings, over half the organisations that have experienced an increase in presenteeism haven’t taken any steps to discourage it.

So, what can be done to prevent it?

  • Identify the root cause of the presenteeism. A lack of motivation often correlates with stress and absence
  • Develop employee wellbeing strategies (this does not mean a corporate gym membership)
  • Investigate individual’s key motivators and invest in improving communication and quality of leadership
  • Give your team access to good employee support
  • Promote health and wellbeing in the workplace, and train your leaders to recognise the signs of stress or ill health
  • Put an emphasis on giving managers the skills they need to manage people in a way that gets the best out of them, whilst supporting their wellbeing.

    A Team Motivation Review from Extra Dimension can identify the causes of presenteeism in your team and give you and your managers the skills to prevent it. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

December 10, 2015 at 8:29 am Leave a comment

Top 10 reasons your employees might be unhappy with their careers

A scissor is cuting happy from unhappy on the desk.

A recent CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook survey has found that 33% of employees say their careers have failed to live up to their aspirations.  You might not think this applies to your team, but how would you know for sure?

This statistic has potential links to one of our previous blogs, ‘Retaining your talent will be harder in 2015, up to 37% of them could be planning to leave’.  Taken together they could explain why the recruitment market is starting to pick up again, and why it is more important than ever to have pro-active employee retention plans in place.

In our March blog we explained what you can do to retain your top talent, but this month we’ll focus on why your employees might be disappointed with their job, and how it is in your power to help them.

How many of our list of the top 10 reasons why employees are unhappy could apply to your team members?

1.    I don’t know exactly what is expected of me at work
2.    I don’t have the resources I need to achieve what is expected of me
3.    My responsibilities do not match my skill set
4.    I don’t feel appreciated for my good work
5.    My manager does not care about me as a person
6.    I don’t feel like I’m doing anything worthwhile
7.    No one listens to my opinions
8.    I do not feel my job is contributing to the success of the company
9.    In the last six months, no one has talked to me about my career progression
10.    I am not given any independence, everything I do is controlled by my manager

You don’t need to be the smartest person in the world to spot that many of the reasons for employee dissatisfaction listed above can be resolved through good communication.  Communication is one of the most critical aspects of leadership – without it, staff, teams, departments and eventually whole companies can fail.

Of course not all of the reasons listed above will apply to all employees and different people will be motivated by different aspects of their job.  If you can understand what motivates your team members, and whether those motivators are satisfied by their role, you can understand the areas in which changes are needed.

The team’s Motivation Profile enables you to tailor your communication, rewards and strategies by engaging with their non-financial drivers.  When you talk to individuals you can focus even more on their motivators.

If you think a Motivation Review could help your staff find career satisfaction get in touch today.

September 7, 2015 at 9:19 am Leave a comment

I’ve promoted my best salesperson to leader of the sales team, but it’s not working out, why?

When looking for a new sales leader, many companies look for candidates among their existing sales team and select their best salesperson for the managerial role. They assume that because an individual is good at sales, they will be successful in the management of a sales team too. Of course, they may be right and a great many successful salespeople do become successful managers. However this is not always the case.

Salespeople are successful when they meet the customer’s needs whilst also achieving the company’s financial goals. A successful salesperson is driven and persistent with eagerness and willingness to seize opportunities. They do, however, require fuel to keep them working at their highest level. This fuel is motivation and it exists in many forms, often tied to incentives and rewards for a job well done.

Sales managers also succeed by meeting customer needs and achieving objectives, but they are neither the hunter nor the centre of the action. Managers contribute to customer and company success when their team of people is successful. A lacklustre sales force benefits from a manager that sets a firm example of hard work. Even productive sales people need a manager that encourages them to strive further and give credit when it’s due. Managers have the opportunity to increase sales productivity and job performance, all while maintaining a positive and stress-free work environment.

Of course any new manager will require training in their new role and coaching to develop their skills, so whether you have promoted from within or recruited from elsewhere, you must ensure you are giving them that.

Managers are coaches; they need to be able to get satisfaction from achieving objectives through others. However when a salesperson gets promoted to manager, it’s no longer about them, it’s about the team. Unless you select a sales person who is able to cope with this change and who has the characteristics it takes to do the next job well, not just those who have demonstrated success in their current job, your sales management team will be average at best.

June 9, 2015 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

Retaining Your Talent Will Be Harder In 2015

A recent survey by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) has found that 37% of UK workers are planning to leave their jobs in 2015 – that’s almost double the figure at this time last year.  When salary increases have been suppressed for a number of years and now the job market is picking up, employers should not be surprised by this statistic. But are you ready?  Do you have tip-top retention plans for your tip-top talent?

A talented team is your most valuable and profitable asset. Happy and engaged employees are often the most motivated to contribute to the company’s business objectives. Losing a good employee has huge cost implications, as well as negatively affecting morale.  It can also have an impact on the skill level of your team so you need to do what you can to hold on to your employees.

Encourage Career Development

The ILM survey goes on to identify the reasons for wanting to move.  Although a salary increase is high, at number 2, the top reason is for career progression.   Even small changes, such as delegating tasks within the work place, are a fantastic way to help people to develop and reach their potential.  For example, assigning a high performing team member a task that might be out of their comfort zone gives them the opportunity to learn something new and feel that they’re trusted to contribute to the business in different ways. When used correctly, delegation is a great tool, which can help top talent to visualise the possibilities within the business they work.  With your support, taking on more responsibility will naturally lead them towards opportunities to progress.

Understand What Makes Them Tick

Around half of those surveyed said they would move for a ‘more interesting role’.  These people are motivated by the mental stimulation and challenge within a role, so they don’t want to be doing the same things day in day out.  I would suggest that, as a leader, you probably don’t want them doing that either, so take a look at the role and see how it can be developed to suit the individual and meet business needs.  Small changes can make a big difference, such as giving someone a project in a new area which helps drive the business in a different direction.

Work-Life Balance

Around a third of those surveyed want to spend more time doing things they enjoy away from the workplace.  This means when they are at work they will have more energy and enthusiasm for it.  Are you one of those leaders who measure success by how many hours people work or do you create a positive environment that invests in their well-being, both professionally and personally?  There are many small things that can contribute here, such as flexible work hours or gym memberships.

Better Management

A similar number of respondents said they would move for better management, and to be valued more in their role.   It is essential that leaders acknowledge people for a job well done on a consistent basis.  For those who like public praise, make sure the wider business sees what their contribution has meant.  Consider having an ‘employee of the month’ scheme (voted by the employees).  Open praise has a powerful impact on both motivation and staff retention.

The loss of top performers can have a devastating impact on teams, companies and customers. Thinking about retaining your top talent when someone has given you his or her resignation means that you’ve left it too late – they have already taken the emotional decision to leave. Managing talent is key, as is checking in on how the whole of your team is feeling about their day-to-day role so that you can intervene and improve things early on.

Staff retention and business success go hand in hand and it is an ongoing process that brings untold benefits to both your business and your customers.

If you need help identifying the motivators of your top talent get in touch and book your Team Motivation review today.

March 4, 2015 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

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Alan Adair

Contact Details

Alan Adair

Extra Dimension
Helping you and your teams to be more engaged, motivated and effective.

21 Pelican House
Stone Close
BH15 4GE

Tel 01202 830047



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