How to…Run the Best Ever Team-Building Event

Remember how you had to eat your greens to get to eat ice-cream afters?Team Building Chocolate

At MyChocolate believe that planning is the key ingredient to having a great time at a team-building event.

Here are some suggestions for success:

What Are Your Objectives?

Take the case of our workshops. Now, some might say that learning to make delicious milk chocolate praline is enough of an objective for anyone – but not so. With all corporate events, it is important to be clear about the objectives. These objectives should tie in to corporate goals, and the type of event you have will be strongly influenced by the outcome you are trying to achieve.

Positive or Negative

A key choice is whether your aim is a positive or negative one.

Have your staff been particularly spangly, clever and lovely this year? In that case, you want to reward staff for an excellent year. In our language this means popping open the champagne and getting those chocolate fountains flowing!

On the other hand, are you trying to overcome psychological barriers that hinder communication? This requires a very different approach, where you try to establish relationships between people who don’t normally interact.

Planning

Suppose your wanting to build better relationships between two separate departments. You could try mixing them in groups and at tables during mealtimes. However, left to our own devices, most of us with hunker down with those we know. To counteract this you could try briefing everyone beforehand to encourage them to mix, or even produce a formal seating plan.

After the Event

The planning you need to do not only includes the corporate event itself, but also what happens afterwards. Because once the ribbon is untied from the boxes, and the choccies devoured, people have a bit of a habit of going back to their old ways. The Choc Doc prescribes the following:

  • identifying and removing, where possible, boundaries in the working environment that permanently divide people into groups. This can include desk arrangements and different dress codes
  • creating cross-organisational process teams (with real objectives) to maintain the initiative and break down the barriers
  • ensuring that you carry on reminding your staff how very much you appreciate them, with reward and recognition schemes, social events and celebrations for key achievements as they happen. Hell, you can even make them home-made chocolate!

Keep Calm and Carry On

You can never guarantee that things are going to run 100 % smoothly but here at My Chocolate we are sticklers for organising ahead.

Team Events Cupcake

One day that might mean figuring out the logistics of getting several kilos of chocolate, four of our lovely teachers, a cocoa bean treasure chest and 10 cases of dessert wine to Munich; on another it may mean rigorously taste-testing strawberry cupcakes and whoopie pies for our new cupcake workshop – it’s a hard life sometimes!

With this in mind, we bring you our Event Planning Top Tips:

  1. Make sure that invitations are sent out well in advance and have a clear date to RSVP. Don’t forget to include a note dietary requirements and access options.
  2. Time to break out Excel! Have timetables for invitations; acceptances; organising accommodation and travel; delegates’ options; tickets for conference dinner, the full caboodle. And don’t forget a timetable for the day itself, with allocated roles for your team.
  3. Your team will only perform smoothly if you fully brief everyone on their roles and relevant information. Make your expectations clear. Fire up staff with your belief in their individual abilities.
  4. When deciding on your venue, shortlist at least 3 options. When you pay your visit, bear in mind the transport links, facilities, friendliness of the staff and services available at no extra cost. Don’t forget to taste the food and wine while you are there. (And yes, that’s a must!)
  5. Take advantage of the in-house team at your conference venue. They will be familiar with the venue and able to offer free advice and help. They are also likely to have information available to assist you in organising such an event, or their event manager should be able to advise you as part of the overall package.
  6. Get advice from your entertainment agent for what works best in different venues. Usually live music works well for drinks reception and mealtime (we’re thinking less Kraut Rock, and more Bossa Nova, however!). Watch out as stand-up comedians can be loose canons, so best stick to a speaker who is talking on a pre-agreed and relevant topic for 30 minutes or so after dining.

Take a break: it’s going to be a long day, so if you can, stay at the venue, or close by the night before. Don’t forget to plan some breaks for you and your team throughout the day. Put your best foot forward – we know you’ll do a fabulous job!  See our team building events for more information.

How Many Staff Does It Take To Eat A Bar of Chocolate?

Is it me, or are there are times when it doesn’t feel like teamwork has much to do with anything in the workplace?

It’s hard to spot teamwork when you’re beavering away alone at your computer meeting a tight deadline or grabbing a sandwich to eat solo at your desk. Sometimes it seems like work is a choice between going it alone or being in competition with colleagues.

In this context, why do so many business books, business gurus and and well us at MyChocolate, bang on about teamwork?

Is teamwork really that important?images

In a word, yes!!

To remind you of the importance of teamwork, here are the best 5 reasons why we at MyChocolate think working as a team is essential:

  1. Teams are more successful at implementing complex plans and strategies. Because you can play to individual strengths, a team can tackle projects far more efficiently than a group of individuals working alone
  2. Teams come up with more creative solutions with their combined grey matter. And as teams continue to work together, many of them find that their individual work benefits from their new ability to see things from other member’s perspectives.
  3. Working in teams is an extremely effective way to ensure that objectives are met, and according to the latest research, spending time improving the way your business uses teams plays a very important part in increasing productivity. This is probably to do with a feeling of collective ownership and pride in the work that naturally develops when individuals are collaborating.
  4. Teams are more enduring than individuals. If you have one person who is responsible for a project, the loss of that person can send the project into a tailspin. When you rely on a team, the loss of one individual may be difficult, but the work of the team will continue.
  5. Cohesion as a team means a far nicer office culture; minimal back-stabbing and maximum solidarity. We know which workplace we’d rather work in! And while each company will have its own unique culture of either encouraging or discouraging team work, the onus is on all of us to do our part. So go on! Share that chocolate.
[Image provided by John Loo via flickr ]

Corporate Events: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

We at My Chocolate feel we have it pretty good.

We get to spend our days planning and hosting delicious chocolate events and team building exercises.

chocolate team building

It’s not a bad existence!

However, lately we’ve been having fun checking out how the ‘other half’ live – you know, the half who have their own helipads, a chauffeur and houses dotted around global.

We’ve done a little rekkie of the ‘net and discovered the most extravagant corporate event experiences out there.

Here are the ones that most tickled our fancy:

Not Quite Do Wah Diddy

Yeh, Cheryl Cole is no slouch on X Factor, but dontcha just miss her singing with the other lasses? Well, fret no more! For a not so modest fee, you can hire Girls Aloud to sing at your company’s bash. For the older clientele, we have Depeche Mode or for the discerning older lady, hunky opera boys Il Divo.

Celeb Speakers

Did you ever read that book, ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss? The one written for men and explains how to pick up just about any single lady? How about hiring the author as your guest speaker? (NB Not quite sure how this will boost your company’s profits). Or you could bring in a certain Mr G Ramsay, but we wouldn’t recommend asking him for dating tips.

Drive a Bentley on Ice

We’re not totally convinced of the benefits of this one. Fly to the Finnish wilderness, take this classic Brit car for a spin on a frozen lake – this seems like some kind of advanced driving proficiency course. But the bit about the huskies and the traditional Lapp dinner sounds good.

Your Very Own Submarine

Yes, for an undisclosed amount, you can drive your very own two-seat submersible. Designed to “fly” underwater, The Super Aviator allows you to experience the wonders of the ocean without getting wet. Just don’t say, “Red October”.

Rent a Private Island

You’d have to have done something pretty damn impressive to get HR to agree to this corporate event. Bahamas? Seychelles? Oh it’s a hard choice. As long as it comes with it’s own fully staffed bar and a white sandy beach, we’re not too picky.

Fun Teambuilding Activities: Our Top Tips

Fun. It’s a curious word, isn’t it? And one that means very different things to different people.

Team Building Events

Let’s take bungee jumping. Scores of people around the world find leaping off an extremely high ridge, with only a thin rubber ankle tie for support, a fun activity. And others will quiver at the thought!

Now, we at My Chocolate are an open-minded lot and of the opinion, “whatever floats your boat”. With this in mind, we’ve had a little office brainstorm and come up with our 5 top fun team-building activities for your delectation:

#1 Chocolate

Well, you didn’t think we were going to put something else at No.1 surely? Not only do you get to make and eat plenty of amazing chocolate, the competition also gets fierce with our adrenalin-fuelled treasure hunt and Dragon’s Den style judging panel. Watch out, your truffle better be good enough for Peter Jones!

#2  Blindfold Driving

Ok it must be the daredevil in us, but the prospect of driving a 4×4 blindfolded is somehow appealing. When else would you get to be so reckless? Oh, but we should mention, your colleagues will be in the vehicle with you too, yelling “Left a bit…right a…noooooo!”.

#3 Sand-sculpting.

Apparently you’ll defy the law of physics with this activity. Brilliant fun but sadly, Bournemouth beach might not be quite the place for it in December. Brrr.

#4 Cocktail-Making  

Yum, we have a soft spot for cocktails at My Chocolate HQ. We actually show guests how to blend chocolate martini’s in our Corporate Special workshop!

#3 Gourmet Food Challenges

For the foodies among you, there are a dazzling variety of options out there. Italian, Chinese, Thai, French…get your frying pans at the ready! As it goes, gourmet experiences are a My Chocolate speciality, focusing around chocolate, naturally. Make your own chocolate martini, sample balsamic chocolate dip with artisan breads as well as chocolate olive tapenade with goats cheese, specially flavoured truffles…we could go on. Alcohol, food, chocolate – meeting every criteria of a fun team-building activity!

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