Team-building activities range from the infamous "Fall of Trust" to devoting an entire day working with peers to examine how individual work styles impede or contribute to team cohesiveness. If you're a consultant, you may be given a basic scenario and asked to develop a proposal for team-building training that will accomplish goals that a client desperately needs to sustain positive and collaborative working relationships among staff. The same approach may be used when you're writing a proposal for your own leadership team to consider in-house team-building training. For a well-constructed proposal, first assess the need; identify your resources; estimate the cost and justify expenses; describe the outcomes; and present a reasonable time frame.

Step One: Assess the Need

Before you can reasonably propose any kind of employee training and development, you must first describe the need for it or conduct a needs assessment. If your organization has completed a survey where employees provided feedback about team building, the survey results may contain valuable information for constructing a needs statement. In the event that you don't have access to data that demonstrates the need for team-building training, you can provide anecdotal references. For example, describe a recent team project that could have been a huge success if the team members had worked collaboratively to achieve the project goal.

Step Two: Identify Resources

Organizations with fully staffed or multi-functional HR departments may already have the internal resources to deliver team-building training. In this case, discuss in your proposal any previous team-building training sessions and the HR staff member who delivered the training. If you're using an external source, include references from previous clients of that team-building training expert. Provide background about the trainers, including specialization in certain industries and testimonials from other organizations that benefited from their expertise.

Step Three: Reveal the Price Tag

Whether you're using in-house resources for your team-building training or engaging the services of a team development coach, there is a cost to deliver training. The cost of in-house resources, such as your HR department trainer, are likely to be far less than an outside consultant, but it's always wise to provide the cost of an in-house trainer's time to develop and prepare for the training. This is how you estimate the value of the company's investment. Justifying the cost to use an external consultant or trainer might be more effective if you look at the cost per participant. For example, if the outside consultant will charge your company $2,000 to provide a four-hour training session for 10 participants, your cost per person is $200. This method of using per-participant cost also is useful when your organization budgets a specific amount each year for per-employee training.

Step Four: Justify the Expense

Expect to do some research if you want to provide compelling reasons why your company should invest in team-building training. Estimating the return on investment, or ROI, for training that addresses soft skills and for building a collaborative work environment may be difficult in most cases. However, if you're measuring before-and-after productivity in a work environment such as a manufacturing shop, the ROI calculation may be simpler. But you still cannot provide precise projections on the ROI, and that's where you will need to research how training can improve such factors as employee engagement, motivation and job satisfaction. This is where you also need to establish measurable goals for the next section of your proposal.

Step Five: List the Goals and Outcomes

An essential part of your proposal is what you hope to accomplish through team-building training. For example, you could write:

"The goal of team-building training for the 10-member warehouse team is to recognize individual team members' strengths, as well as find areas for improvement so the result is a cohesive, collaborative work group."

This is a fine goal, but include something measurable so you can actually determine the ROI when the training is complete. Consider using SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. An example of a SMART goal is:

"Within five days after completing the team-building training, the warehouse department will work with the HR department to revise all of its job descriptions. Team members will compile a description of their individual skills, capabilities and interests, in addition to their specific duties and tasks on a daily and weekly basis. The job descriptions and team members' descriptions of tasks and skills will then be used to determine whether the warehouse positions are appropriately matched to the incumbent."

Step Six: Specify the Time Frame

Setting aside time for an entire team to sit through training might be challenging, but if the goals and outcomes are important to sustaining team performance, definitely mention that in the proposal. Consider recommending multiple half-day or two-hour training sessions to ensure that the team will still have time to do its actual work. Review the company calendar to ensure that you're not proposing training that would interfere with seasonal spikes in business. If vacation calendars are available, consult those as well to determine when it's feasible for employees to attend and participate in the planned training session.