Merging two communication teams with a ‘pure’ teambuilding event nobody would expect!

by Sarah

The challenge

What our client Vanessa, Senior Internal Communications Manager at E.ON, wanted was, on the face of it, very straightforward – a one-day event that was solely spent helping two teams get to know each other better, to achieve something amazing and to have fun!

Vanessa was keen to get the 30-strong team together because they: had recently been through a restructure that combined two teams into one; had a new ambition and vision; and would have to work together differently in the future.

But she really didn’t want the sort of bog-standard teambuilding day that has become so common. So… what to do? It’s fair to say that we love this sort of challenge, so we got to work and started with a blank sheet of paper.

The solution

After a bit of brainstorming, some creative and whacky conversations, we landed on the idea of putting on a mock wedding – symbolic of the coming together of two teams into a single unit. We would have five teams, each working on an element of the wedding preparation with budgets, resources and their own rooms. We’d give them five hours to make sure all the preparations were complete, before actually having a ‘ceremony’, photographs, wedding reception and evening entertainment! We would make sure people were put into teams where they didn’t know most other people, reflecting the reality of their future working. All this added up to a scenario where everyone would be under pressure and outside their comfort zones – always a good cocktail for teamwork!

The result

We absolutely nailed the objectives of the day and by the end of it there were new and stronger relationships amongst the team. Everyone got stuck into the tasks with vigour and had loads of fun – we were all exhausted by the end of the event but the effect that the day had on the team made it all worthwhile when one of the managers said: “From a teamwork perspective, I think we’ve probably achieved in a single day what it would ordinarily have taken 12-18 months to do back in the workplace, so we’ll definitely be a more effective team as a result of today.” When you hear things like this, you know you’ve done a pretty good job!

Want to know more?

But of course, we couldn’t have a wedding before the dating process had taken place, so when people arrived we would run a ‘getting to know you’ exercise that challenged people to meet and find things in common with ten other people in the group.

Once the ice was broken we would then assign people to their ‘wedding teams’ and task them with getting to know each other a bit more and to agree how they would work together once their task was revealed. Little would they yet know that between them they would have to create outfits for all 30 people, decorate the reception and the ceremony rooms, choose wine, devise a team song and dance, design buttonholes… the list goes on and we won’t reveal all here!

Vanessa was really keen to keep the content of the day a secret, so the invitation was designed to put people off the scent and convince them that we’d be putting them through their paces in outdoor pursuit activities!

The event was held offsite in the historical Leicestershire town of Market Bosworth, which was central to the various locations our delegates were arriving from. We arrived early, with what felt like a tonne of resources and materials and hid it all away ready for the ‘big reveal’ later that day.

It’s fair to say that when the team found out what the task was, there was a palpable gasp of incredulity… “Wow, really?” was whispered somewhere across the room. Vanessa had a mischievous twinkle in her eye – her judgement about whether the team would be up for it had been completely spot-on.

By the way, we were asked on many occasions how this ‘wedding team-build package’ compared to the other wedding team-builds we’d done for clients in the past. They couldn’t quite believe that this was our first time and that we never do the same thing for two different clients!

 

What Vanessa said…

“I just wanted to say that Tuesday was absolutely fantastic – we completely achieved our objectives and the day ran like clockwork. Thank you so much for ensuring the day was well organised, every detail had been considered – leaving me to stress about table decorations and glitter with my team!

The leadership were delighted with the whole day and I’ve had lots of feedback of how much they enjoyed it and really got to know people across the team.”

 

Vanessa Northern, Senior Internal Communications Manager – Operations

If you’re thinking ‘I do’ then it’s simple: give Sarah a call and she’ll happily talk to you about it. She might even dig out her hat for the occasion!