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Motivational team events

Prior to running a team day or three, it's worth knowing a little bit about motivation. The psychology is very interesting as we endeavour to run motivational team events.

Daniel Pink has conducted some fascinating studies indicating that (surprise surprise) its not all about money. People are strongly motivated by three key factors: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. So to get a great team event going, to hold an event with a great buzz, maybe it's worth thinking about these three factors.

I saw this happen in a very large construction company that extensively used Quantity Surveyors for their construction project work. A massive conference which was intended to get the QSs to contribute new ideas. It didn’t work. Well, not for the first hour as they arrived looking particularly grumpy. Another two days out of the office, crazy work pressure, meetings to attend, email in-trays rammed. We have all been there.


Teams working together: this is the ideal but sometimes we need to take steps to make sure it happens.

Then the CEO spoke. And thereafter it went like dynamite.

The message was….. “Life is tough for you all. You know that, I know that. But I want you guys to be the centre of excellence for Europe. I want your knowledge and experience to form the base of commercial construction ideas in projects that we run across this continent. I want you to tell us what works and what doesn’t. We want to listen. Life is tough but you are incredibly valuable to us.  I want the rest of the company to know that. So give your minds over to these couple of days together, and give us something valuable we can work with.”

You could feel the electricity. So much so that I have been forced to mix my metaphors. Dynamite and electricity? You get the idea though I'm sure. Thinking about it, what was happening?

  • Autonomy: they were being asked to think independently and to offer advice and ideas.
  • Mastery: they were acknowledged as being appreciated for and wanted for their specific skills.
  • Purpose: they were being given a clear and important role in the company future.

motivational team events

Mark Miller is MD of Goodfoot, and author of 'Hamsters Can't Dance", a tongue in cheek look at management challenges.

Sure, the above weren’t the exact words the CEO used. But that was the sentiment. And the result was almost tangible. People sat up straighter. Some even smiled (and for those of you who know what QSs are generally like that’s something of an achievement .... please don't take offence  if you are a QS, it's just the QSs I know. I feel a hole being  dug here ....). Energy levels palpably rose. People wanted to engage. This is key when running powerful team events.

I don’t know if the CEO had read the results of Daniel Pinks studies, or whether he just intuitively knew what was needed. I guess the point is that it worked, and the keynote speech that morning was referred back to in conversation many times during the event.

So does our team event enable people to enjoy independent thinking and action (Autonomy)? Does it acknowledge and use skills held by the participants (Mastery)? And finally, does it enable participants to share a bright view of a future (Purpose)? If the answer is in the affirmative, then our team event is in the Pink !


Click the link below to download our free e-book on Emotional Contagion for team events, written by senior consultant Sue Blight. Sue is an accredited Executive Coach through Henley Business School, with extensive experience as a Management Trainer and Change Facilitator. 

motivational team events


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