We have all had that Eureka moment when running team events, that moment when they ‘get it’. It’s a brilliant feeling for the person running the event, at that moment in time we see the energies fuse and the participants serious about making the event a success. It’s a great thing to experience.
Events are sometimes held for ‘team building’ reasons, which is really all about enabling people to feel comfortable with each other. The best events in my opinion though, are those which have a clear purpose and targeted output. In other words, the team builds a solution to something which gives a direct benefit to the business.
To get that Eureka moment we need, as facilitators, to be able to manage the emotions of the group and produce an emotional atmosphere which is conducive to developing a strong result for the event. This atmosphere can be called ‘Emotional Contagion’, and is what running powerful team events is all about. If properly established, it continues way after the event and helps the business itself implement the output of the team event.
Sue Blight is an accredited Executive Coach through Henley Business School with extensive experience as a Management Trainer and Change Facilitator.
Sue specialises in psychometric assessment and delivers performance support for individuals and teams.
I have struggled in some events to make this Emotional Contagion happen. Sometimes this was down to the politics and pressures within the groups, and sometimes because I just didn’t have the techniques. It has taken many experiences, but I have come to the conclusion that there are in fact some techniques which help the group reach the Eureka moment and let Emotional Contagion run its natural course and deliver a return to the business.
In my experience, many facilitators are very good at organising the group. I used to focus on this element myself in my early days of facilitating. But this is quite different to managing an atmosphere. And like it or not, atmosphere is the key ingredient for team event success, and something which I feel should be part of the review about the success of the event. We have all been there, working in poor atmospheres. I once saw a very dominant director deal with that issue by insisting on results. The group shrugged its shoulders and said fine if that was what he wanted. They put probably 30 percent effort in, with no creativity or new ideas. Sure, the director got his ‘results’. But nothing happened afterwards, and looking back the event was a complete waste of money. In fact, the negative atmosphere added to the stories circulating about the pointlessness of team events with that particular director. He was an expert, in my view, in emotional contagion of completely the wrong kind.
In the next few blogs I will cover some thoughts about what we can do to make emotional contagion a reality in our team events. In the meantime, please feel free to view our free video and e-book, and if you have time click here to mail me your comments, thoughts, and experiences.