3 Keys to Planning a Team Building Event

Have you noticed a decline in engagement and productivity in your staff? Are co-worker relationships strained or nonexistent? Perhaps you’re thinking of fixing this by planning a team-building event. Before you begin, here are 3 keys to getting the desired results from your team building event.


1. Understand what you want to accomplish.

All events are not made equal, so before you decide that a wilderness retreat is exactly what your team needs, make sure you have a clear idea of what it is you’re looking to accomplish. Are you trying to improve communication or instill company values? Is the goal to encourage relationships and team mentality or motivate your staff for better performance. Your event will look a lot different depending on the end goal.


2. Understand your team culture.

Even if your employees aren’t functioning as a team, there’s definitely a unique team dynamic in effect. Take the time to assess what that is and how it relates to where you want it to be. Be sure, also, to acknowledge the characteristics that make up your team. What is the age range, physical capabilities, or are there language differences? Is the group highly competitive or are they mainly introverts? Going one step further, how well do the members currently know each other and do they get along? Perhaps the first step in reaching your goal may be as simple as setting aside time for co-workers to learn each other’s names and spend a few minutes not working together. On the other hand, if your team has been together for a while, a refreshing or immersive experience might very well be called for.


3. Ask if an event is what is needed right now.

Some people (points to self) love the idea of an event, regardless of the situation. But there are times when team building objectives are best  met in other ways. For instance, if the management in an organization only communicates with employees in directives, scheduling a full-day ropes course training will not improve company morale. So take an honest look and make the necessary adjustments before plunging into the event planning process.


In the end, companies can’t look at team building events like an ER, ignoring good health practices from day to day and then running in when things take a turn for the worst. Think of them like your yearly checkup. Team building events are most effective when you have a healthy team!

The Game of Telephone – 4 Tools for Effective Communication

Do you remember that game “Telephone” we used to play as kids? One person would start with a message that he’d whisper into the ear of the next person and so on and so on until the message reached the end of the line. Yet, when the last person proclaimed the statement out loud, it had completely transformed from the original. How does that happen?!

Well, here we are as adults and wouldn’t you know it, that same thing happens in the real world. Not only in our personal lives, but in the workplace as well. 

I recently had the privilege of leading a 9-person staff in a Team Alliance Day, where the goal was to improve communication and trust as well as strengthen the team bond. Through the course of the afternoon they learned that even when working together as a team for a common goal, communicating the message can still be tricky. So how can you equip your employees to consistently and effectively get the right message across?

  1. Start with a clear and concise message. If the members of your team don’t fundamentally understand what the message is, there’s no chance of them consistently or effectively communicating it. Zero. With that said, doyou fundamentally understand the message? Is it clear, brief, and does it make sense with how your organization operates?
  2. Repeat the message. Even if a person can get the message right the first time she hears it, memory is a funny thing and often evolves over time. Make sure the message is communicated to the staff on a regular basis. That may look differently for every company, but ultimately, if the message is truly a part of how the company operates, it will naturally reoccur.
  3. Repeat it again. Give each team member a chance to repeat the message back to you. This opens an opportunity for clarification where needed and lets each individual personally connect with the message, by hearing it in his own voice.
  4. Trust your staff with the message. Once you’ve given a clear and concise message to your team, repeated the message and allowed each member a chance to repeat it to you, you must trust that they will do the job of effectively communicating it down the line. You cannot babysit the message all the through the pipeline – watching for mistakes or inconsistencies – and then expect your staff to demonstrate effective communication. Trust your team; if you’ve truly given them the first three tools then this part will be easy. When they know and understand the message and see your trust, they will take on the responsibility of making sure the message is communicated consistently and effectively.
Does the communication in your workplace end up like the game of telephone? Contact Renatta Emerson Events by calling 206.92.EVENT or email renatta@renattaemerson.com and find out how we can help deliver these tools to your team.

4 Ways to Engage Your Employees

Countless studies are showing that disengaged employees have a direct impact on the bottom line of the companies they work for. So what do you do to keep your employees engaged and motivated to do their best at what you’ve hired them to do?


Engagement has been defined as a persistent state of work fulfillment. That fulfillment shows up as excellent customer service, fewer sick days, innovative ideas and higher revenue. A fulfilled and therefore engaged employee will want to work for you, they will buy into your company’s mission and values and they’ll be great ambassadors for your brand. That’s the why, now for the how.


Ways to engage & motivate your employees



Employees want open-mindedness and opportunities to be innovative, so involve them in the purpose and strategy planning of the business whenever possible. Ask your team members for their opinions, harness their ideas and then make a point to actually implement the good ideas. Allow your employees to have a voice and let them know their voice matters.


Foster Relationships:

Get to know your employees and give them an opportunity to get to know their coworkers and managers. Create events where they can spend time with other employees. Are your leaders accessible and visible throughout the organization? If so, make sure your team knows this. If not, they should be. Above all, show dignity and respect for the individual beings that make up your staff.


Career Opportunities:

Nearly everyone has a personal goal that they are working towards and many view their jobs as an avenue to reach that goal. Allow room for personal and professional growth among your team. Find ways to assign leadership roles (even if only temporarily) and mentor everyone.



Every human being desires recognition. Be sure to incorporate ways to acknowledge and celebrate both team and individual achievements in a meaningful way. In a 2008 survey, 55% of employees said that some sort of occasional praise or attention would make them feel the company cared about them & their well-being.


How does your company fare when it comes to employee engagement? In what areas could you use improvement? To learn more about a custom employee engagement package for your company contact Renatta Emerson Events by calling 206.92.EVENT or email renatta@immersionevents.com.

Bring positive change to your team (Interview)



As a manager of a team of employees, how do you address widespread issues of low morale, sub-par productivity or simply lack of communication? These symptoms are often the trigger for strategic conversations that result in the announcing of a Company Team-Building Event. However, many times these events only provide a temporary distraction and then the same symptoms return.


Instead of emphasising an event, why not focus on a strategy that directly addresses the core issues? This month I spoke with Patricia Eslava Vessey, PCC, CHT, ICF credentialed Life & Executive Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner, Trainer, Speaker, Author & Fitness Trainer from Integrity Coaching & Training Systems. Patricia’s proven work demonstrates that personal and team development stems from gaining different perspectives and developing self-management skills.


Renatta Emerson: Tell us what you do at Integrity Coaching & Training Systems does?


Patricia Eslava Vessey:I help individuals and groups achieve their goals, whatever they may be.  Integrity Coaching and Training Systems is a personal development company dedicated to empowering people to succeed in their personal and professional lives.


With expertise in coaching, hypnosis, NLP, personal development, group facilitation and wellness, I specialize in designing and delivering powerful and effective learning opportunities for groups and individuals. This allows them to transform limiting, negative and destructive beliefs and behaviors into the energized, empowered and successful lives they desire.


RE: Tell me a little bit about why a corporate group would want to participate in a group session with you. (Or perhaps the question is: why should they?)


PEV: Teams enjoy working with me because I have been educating, inspiring and motivating people to achieve their goals for over 33 years. I use a variety of powerful and effective transformational tools and techniques from coaching, hypnosis, NLP, energy psychology and others in the many trainings I offer. Whether teaching a fitness class of 15 or a  seminar of 100 people, participants leave feeling “empowered, confident, excited, motivated, refreshed, energized and full of hope” about their future.  The passion, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment I bring to my work as well as a lifetime of expertise in helping people make meaningful life changes enables participants to easily, effortlessly and enjoyably transform their lives.


As a former social worker and manager for over 30 years I bring a wealth of experience, insight and expertise to my work with businesses/corporate groups.  As a leader who created high functioning, cohesive and award-winning teams, I work collaboratively with groups to design an experience that exceeds their expectations.


RE: I imaginethat many people hold on to misconceptions or concerns related to hypnosis. How do you address that with groups?


PEV: Unfortunately over the years the media has popularized several negative myths about hypnosis.  Sometimes people express concern about being made to do things against their will or they fear being out of control during hypnosis. It’s important to me that people feel comfortable with the techniques I use.  To that end I explain how hypnosis works, dispel all myths and answer questions as well as give a brief demonstration so people feel comfortable and know what to expect.


RE: Speaking of what to expect, what can groups expect in a session with Integrity Coaching?


PEV: Unless the group is attending one of my current workshops, which are typically several hours in length, I work with the group prior to the session to establish goals and outcomes including timeframe for the activity.  Depending on the purpose of the session, participants can expect to become enlightened, energized and empowered to make meaningful personal and professional changes and achieve their goals while learning new skills, increasing confidence and having fun. Group sessions are typically experiential and may include individual, small group and large group activities such as team building, skill building training in communication, stress management, strategic planning, goal setting, customer service, time management, leadership skills, wellness/fitness, etc.


RE: So then, after a session with you, what should a team expect? What will they gain?


PEV: I am known for designing effective, engaging and fun group training sessions.  Previous groups who have benefited from my workshops include group sessions on confidence, goal setting, performance, public speaking, stress management, communication skills, team building, weight loss, smoking cessation, time management, fitness/wellness and more. My techniques and experience allow me to customize powerful and effective workshops for any group.


RE: Who would you say are the best types of groups to  benefit from Integrity Coaching & Training Systems?


PEV: Groups whose goal is improved performance and relationships will learn to become more self aware, and how their behavior affects the group.  Those wanting to improve their relationships into cohesive, high performing teams will learn new tools and ways to interact.


RE: Wow. Many thanks to you Patricia for explaining how you help groups reach their goals.


For more information and consultation, please contact Patricia Eslava Vessey by phone or email at patricia@integritylifecoach.com or (206) 459-2898


Putting the “build” in Team-building (Interview)

Many companies like the idea of hosting a team building retreat or event for their staff, but often struggle to determine what that event should entail. How do you find something that is creative but not awkward, effective but not cliche, and at the same time will appropriately represent the company’s culture and values?

Enter Team Habitat.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting Tracey Sorenson, Development Manager for the Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity. They offer a unique and powerful team building opportunity that, quite frankly, not enough businesses know about. Here is our conversation:

Renatta Emerson: Can you briefly explain what Team Habitat is?

Tracey Sorenson: Team Habitat is a program for groups who would like to come out for a day of building together on a Habitat for Humanity house.

RE: Why would a group want to participate in Team Habitat?

TS: According to Fresh Tracks, a UK-based people development company, getting people away from their typical environment and together in new, fun, or unusual settings can have immensely powerful consequences. Colleagues who work together in an unfamiliar environment develop a unique bond of shared experience and trust that carries over to the workplace. Team Habitat has the additional benefit of providing not only this, but also the good feeling that comes from helping others.

RE: That all sounds nice, but when I think of building a house it just seems like a lot of work. Is it actually fun?!

TS: I like to tell people that no one has ever NOT had fun coming out to build with Habitat. I think it’s because house building is such a foreign experience to most people, they think it’s something they can’t do. So when they see all they’ve accomplished after a day of building, it’s tremendously gratifying.

RE: What can groups expect in a day with the Team Habitat experience?

TS: We ask groups to arrive at 8:45 am for a safety briefing and assignment of the day’s tasks, then they work until 3:00 or 3:30 pm. With Team Habitat, a host is on site to take pictures, answer questions, and feed them snacks and lunch – so they get a more personalized experience than our individual volunteers.

RE: Is there any kind of prior experience or training needed?

TS: No experience at all is required! Less than 5% of the people who come out to volunteer with us have any prior construction experience. Our construction managers are used to working with brand-new volunteers and are very patient in teaching them everything they need to know.

RE: What kind of groups would you say is the Team Habitat experience for?

TS: Team Habitat is great for any group who is looking to connect with one another in a fun way while giving back to the community.

RE: That sounds like just about anyone then. 

I’m sure people are curious what kind of effect their efforts create. What would you say is the impact that volunteer groups have on Habitat for Humanity’s projects?

TS: Team Habitat is quantifiable in the sense that groups are donating both their time and making a tax-deductible financial contribution. In Tacoma, the cost to build a Habitat home (not including site development and infrastructure costs) is over $70,000. When a Team Habitat group participates, they are doubling the impact they make by not only volunteering their time, but by helping cover the construction costs on the house on which they work.

RE: So, double the impact, team bonding, plus the feel-goods? That’s pretty hard to beat! How can groups get more information and who should they contact?

TS: More information about Team Habitat and testimonials from past participants can be found on our local Team Habitat website. They can also call our office at 253-627-5626 and ask to speak to someone about our Team Habitat program. (It will probably be me!)

RE: That’s fantastic, is there anything you would like to add?

TS: Thanks for the opportunity to talk about Team Habitat, Renatta. Having been on site with more than a dozen groups, I can say without a doubt that they find this to be a worthwhile team-building opportunity. With corporate social responsibility becoming an industry standard, we are increasingly approached by groups looking to make a difference in their community. However, a lot of people still don’t know about this. We appreciate forward-thinking businesses like yours who are helping us get the word out.

RE: Thank you, Tracey for taking the time to share about Team Habitat!

Contact the Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity and find out how your company can participate in Team Habitat. Tell them Renatta Emerson Events sent you!

Team Habitat Website 
Facebook Page
Phone: 253.627.5626