Away days have been moving out of conference centres and seminar rooms lately, so I thought it was time to look at refreshing alternatives to the indoor activity. Sometimes, you just want to get your team out of the office, doing something amazing. And what could be a bigger breath of fresh air than the countryside?
Country sports are about more than the smell of pig poo and the rustle of tweed. They combine key problem solving and goal-achieving skills in activities that are guaranteed to get even the most jaded team into the spirit of things.
Country sports aren't all shotgun shells and clay discuses. Herding is a hilarious, challenging and fun way to express key business behaviours in a new environment.
Try taking control of a flock of Indian Running Ducks using a faithful four legged pal as your communications device. You'll have to master the art of giving subtle commands to the dog, who in turn has to pass on your intentions to the herding ducks. You'll be in stitches, but you'll learn something about your powers of management too.
Traditional country sports are a great way to add a challenge to your next away day. Try your hand at archery or crossbow shooting for a jolt of medieval fun. You'll be amazed how quickly your mild-mannered team members get a look of Conan the Barbarian about them when the arrows and crossbow bolts start flying!
The solo nature of shooting sports doesn't stop them from conferring clear benefits on the participants. Concentration and trust play big roles in these activities. Team members often haven't handled a weapon before, and in the first instance they are completely reliant on the instructor for their safety and success.
As they become more proficient and confident, participants often begin to pass on their knowledge to other members of the group.
Firing a big gun isn't just a massive rush for a desk-bound supply chain manager: it's also a way to visualise overcoming obstacles, and combining aim with outcome. But there's another, less tangible advantage to clay pigeon shooting and powered target sports.
Exhilaration is often overlooked in analyses of company away days, because it's so hard to define. Sure, it's nice to make people feel good - but how much real-world effect can it have? The answer, of course, is that the power of feeling awesome carries long term benefits. Tapping into the reward system your brain uses to teach you when something is worth repeating, a pure hit of joyfulness positively reinforces the circumstances that got you into the situation in the first place.
In the case of an away day, those circumstances are your membership in the company. You work for the business, the business took you on a day out, you got the opportunity to blast away with a shotgun. In the simple calculation of reward and experience, your brain says: “keep working for the company, and you'll get to do this again.”
Sometimes, it really is that simple.
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