What to Do and What Not to Do During Your Team Building ActivitiesLots of people are talking about better and more effective teams. They’re engaged, professional and efficient—and best of all, they’re not just dependent on one or two stars, but on every single player. Collective initiative and innovation are far more effective—and cohesive—than nearly any other management model. Even if you are operating with an advanced or highly complicated management structure, it all comes down to the teams doing the work. Solo players need not apply.
These are seven of the most important considerations for anyone embarking on a team building project. Keep them in mind and stop back as we continue looking into this important topic.
1) Performance Goals Need to Mean Something—And not just numbers. Players with different capabilities and background are all going to show up at the table with something different. Give them time—and take the time—to learn what goals should be, to adapt and re-adapt team goals so that they make sense for every individual. Talk openly with the weakest players. Make sure you work those weaker players into interdependent relationships with their stronger counterparts. Don’t let any team member concentrate exclusively on their own tasks or expertise. Rather, re-focus all players on the team goals.
2) Put a Decision-Making Process Out There—And then make sure everyone sees how it works. That doesn’t mean managers need to cede control. On the other hand, a more transparent decision-making process needs a lot less justification, so they may very well find themselves with better control. So, increasing input into the decision making process is a clear and truly effective team building process in and of itself.
3) Get Support from On-High—Whether you’re mixing teams of people with different superiors, or you’re simply building a team within a given hierarchy, make sure everyone from first level managers on up gets, get the structure, gets the goals and gets the point. Don’t let any managers undermine the given achievements because of crossed wires or misunderstanding. If you really are taking team players away from other areas or scopes of responsibility, make sure you’re managers are talking. Tasks can be overlooked or forgotten as teams are coming together, especially from multiple areas.
4) Diversify—And celebrate diversity. Teams work best when they respect all the different players no matter their backgrounds and individual circumstances. The norms established for the team to work with are the norms your team will need to work with, so get them set, right, from the very beginning.
5) Build Teams Like You’re Hiring—That doesn’t mean you have to fire, too. But it does mean, you’re not merely making a a department into a team. Better teams are consciously chosen from people who already have a history of working together (or not working together). Rather than simply calling your department a team, and then trying to do team building exercises. Start with smaller, deliberately chosen teams within a department, and learn from the way that each one succeeds—and fails.
6) Plan for Disagreement—Putting people together at work is a recipe for disaster—in most workplaces. But the attitude that people can’t get along is why many, if not most, teams fail. Dissent shouldn’t just be tolerated but encouraged, and solutions need to be broadly considered, if not carried through to delivery. Many early stages of projects can seem chaotic, expensive or just all over the place. But, like true brain-storming, getting any team across the finish line can mean everyone starting at very different places.
7) Set Up Good Networks—Public forums and chats are a team builders best friend. But not if they’re patrolled by the though police. Professionals know how to use networks and what’s appropriate. But they won’t always give you the feedback you need to really draw them in. That’s doubly true if things are unspoken, or worse, unspeakable. Make sure that your team has open and free communication, and an open hand to play their best cards, or you’ll end up with a lot less team to brag about.
What did we miss? What was the most important thing you learned from your own team-building exercise or experience. Please let us know in the comments section below.
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