Clear goals and sense of direction.
The purpose is clear,
the goals are challenging and stated in specific terms, and all
members are committed to accomplishing them.
Identification of talent.
You determine what talent
exists on the team and whether it is being utilized and continually
Clear roles and responsibilities.
or her role on the team and how it helps the team succeed.
These are established for getting
done, for planning, for making decisions, for holding
for problem solving.
Constructive interpersonal relations.
Members show each
other respect, differences are celebrated, everyone communicates,
and conflicts are resolved.
Active reinforcement of team-orientated behaviors.
Recognition is provided for members' living up to their
responsibilities, especially for helping out teammates.
Diplomatic external ties.
The team purposely nurtures
positive relationships with other teams, key managers and union
, and key "customers."
Components 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 are more useful in dealing with the
task aspects of team development. On the relationship side,
components 5 and 7 are the most important.
Motivations Underlying Team Development Sessions
When is the right time to do teambuilding? The real answer to this question is that
(or team deteriorating) is happening all the time. Any time you and team
become aware of how the
of individuals is attempting to pull together and learn from that awareness, you are engaged in teambuilding. However, in most organizations teambuilding is perceived as an event, a series of events, or perhaps team training sessions. There are some very admirable motivations for arranging such events and some
ones, too. Hopefully, the overriding reason to engage in a teambuilding activity or event is to develop a more effective and
group that is working together to accomplish something. This should involve evaluating where the team is and planning for what may be
. It is often
when the team is first
to sell the members on the benefits of working as a team or to get acquainted with each other and the expectations the organization has for the team. Another popular time to offer teambuilding is when the team seems to be stuck. Someone perceives that there is a problem, the team engages in some diagnostic activity, and it then develops the plans needed to remove the pain it is experiencing.
have both a task and a relationship function to fulfill. It is best if every teambuilding effort reflects both orientations. In many, if not most, organizations,
is a code word for developing better relations ”and often involves resolving some conflict between members or to help the members "bond." I am aware of work and leadership teams being sent to outdoor adventure camps together where they have to discover how to scale walls and get their team across difficult terrain. I know of organizational teams that have been sent to car race tracks and expected to learn how to
as a pit crew and as race drivers. These activities can be fun and exciting and may provide people with a whole new framework for viewing one another. Breakthroughs can occur and people may learn to appreciate members whom they did not respect before. Teammates can see how they need to pull together to solve problems and to
However, if you use these
of teambuilding, be sure that sufficient time is spent analyzing what was learned about the team and how the members will apply what they learned to the assigned organizational
they are expected to perform on the job. Too often, teambuilding
are fun (or scary)
from work that do not result in improvements in performance and satisfaction levels. Some personality types thrive on the excitement, while others feel threatened. If you are going to invest in this type of approach ”often an expensive investment ”be sure the learning is applied. The structured significant emotional events this approach provides can create attitude changes and a sense of bonding, but that does not ensure that the team will be better at doing its assignments, better at holding meetings, or better at resolving conflicts.
Another warning may be in order here. Some organizations provide teambuilding efforts involving all the members when really the issue is that there is one weak member or one or two people in conflict. Conflict resolution strategies are discussed in chapter 7. You may want to consider using some of the tools provided there instead of a teambuilding event involving all members. Otherwise, it may feel like teambuilding is a
that members must endure because one or two people are
problems. It may also feel like the best way to get attention in this organization is to be a squeaky wheel. I have seen many times where teams
90 percent of their energy dealing with 10 percent of their members. I have also seen team members give up if one or two fellow members seem to be getting away with doing less work. Certainly equity and accountability are important, but performance management techniques such as those described in chapter 8 may provide more appropriate interventions than the kind that take up everybody's time at some teambuilding event.
Teambuilding events have also been used by organizations to soften up members prior to negotiations or some major change that may adversely impact them. Teambuilding events have been scheduled because customers have insisted on their suppliers offering such events. Teambuilding has been offered because some certification desired by the organization requires documentation that such events have occurred. Business fads come and go, and sometimes teambuilding events are offered because it seems like a "cool thing to do." It is an attempt to reward people with some fun. I have seen companies
dinners, trips to ball
, picnics, and happy
at the local bar as their teambuilding efforts. I am not suggesting that these events cannot be helpful. I am only asking that you question whether people learn something through your event that they then can be expected to use when they return to their jobs. Take teambuilding seriously.
The best teambuilding efforts are conceived as an ongoing process to establish or apply some systematic approach to getting people to work together successfully. The events must be grounded in the work the team is expected to accomplish. The events are like practice sessions similar to the practice sessions sports teams use to prepare for game day. My earlier book
Tools for Team Excellence
(1996) includes some exercises and activities for addressing each of the seven key
of team excellence in addition to those provided here. Since the publication of that book, I have
many training sessions for team
. I have facetiously asked them to go to the
with any burning bushes, and come down with the "Ten Commandments for Teambuilding."
a composite of some of their best thinking.
The Ten Commandments of Teambuilding
Thou shalt not form teams for teams' sake.
Thou shalt address the task and the relationship side of every team effort.
Thou shalt conduct a needs assessment before proceeding with teambuilding.
Thou shalt use a model of team effectiveness (e.g., the seven key components of team excellence) to ensure that all team elements are
Thou shalt tailor each teambuilding effort to the needs of the team.
Thou shalt prepare the organization and its systems to benefit and support the teambuilding effort.
Thou shalt have the whole team present for each teambuilding session.
Thou shalt not make the teambuilding a one-shot effort.
Thou shalt not count on training alone to build effective teams.
Thou shalt not expect perfect teams ”continuous improvement is the religion of success with teams.
It has already been
that teambuilding efforts need to be a series of ongoing events. Exercise 12 provides an opening exercise to be used in every session after the first one. Every session is a test of whether actions are following words. Thus each session becomes a great opportunity to gain credibility for the team concept at your company.