Team Building

November 11, 2010

Team Building

In the competitive world we live in; with all of our individual goals; it is difficult to assemble a “team” of individuals that will effectively reach a certain business goal or objective. It is no secret that the majority of projects fail. If this is so, how do we increase team performance? Businesses, schools, sports teams, religious or nonprofit organizations use the technique of team building to improve team performance.1

What is team building?

Wikipedia refers to team building as a wide range of activities designed for improving team performance. Teambuilding is an important factor in any environment; its focus is to specialize in bringing out the best in a team to ensure self-development, positive communication, leadership skills and the ability to work closely together as a team to problem solve.1

Now, what exactly do you mean by team?

A team is not to be confused with a group. It is easy to consider these synonymous, but a group consists of number of individuals in which each person performs specific tasks given to them by management, and each person is evaluated according to how well he has done the task at hand. They work as a group, but not as a team.

A team is also a collective, but as opposed to a group, decisions are shared, the rules are internally established, and the rewards (or punishments) are shared by all.2

According to a blog posting by Shirley Fine Lee,

A great team will have:

1. Members sharing leadership responsibility and rotating other roles as needed.

2. All participating in idea generation, problem solving, and decision-making.

3. Members showing support, respect, and trust for one another.

4. All taking actions and doing work that is necessary to reach team goals.

5. Members managing conflict by confronting issues and inappropriate behaviors.

The best teams display these characteristics in their roles, attitudes, behaviors, and working as group and dedicated individuals.3 Team building exercises consist of a variety of tasks designed to develop group members and their ability to work together effectively.1 There are many types of team building activities that are designed for particular needs. Certain team building exercises can be used to improve communication, problem solving and decision-making, planning, adaptability and trust. There are also more complex team building exercises that are composed of multiple exercises such as ropes courses, corporate drumming and exercises that last over several days.1 Activities such as costume contests on holidays can be considered light exercises, but effective none the less in achieving team camaraderie.

So why is team building important?

The purpose of team building exercises is to assist teams in becoming cohesive units of individuals that can effectively work together to complete tasks.

Making teams more productive is a constant issue for most managers. Productivity is, of course, the essence of what makes businesses competitive, but it is particularly important in times of economic slowdown such as the one we are currently experiencing.2 In other words, team building can have a direct effect on the company’s bottom line.

Wikipedia lists the following in reference to the need of team building.

§ Improving communication

§ Making the workplace more enjoyable

§ Motivating a team

§ Getting to know each other

§ Getting everyone "onto the same page", including goal setting

§ Teaching the team self-regulation strategies

§ Helping participants to learn more about themselves (strengths and weaknesses)

§ Identifying and utilizing the strengths of team members

§ Improving team productivity

§ Practicing effective collaboration with team members1

So what have we learned?

Team building is a process that develops cooperation and teamwork within a work unit. To constitute an effective team, its members must share a common goal and be motivated to use the strengths of each member to achieve their objectives. Through activities known as team building exercises, individuals can practice a variety of techniques such as brainstorming, collaboration, creativity and trust. Current corporate philosophy stresses that each member of a team plays an integral part in the success of the company. The foundation of all team building is having shared goals to which all team members are committed.4

By: Wesley D. Sims

References:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_building

2. http://www.allbusiness.com/human-resources/employee-development-team-building/525073-1.html

3. http://www.smallbusinessdelivered.com/fivecharacteristicsofagreatteam.html

4. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-team-building.htm

3 Responses to “Team Building”

  1. It is true that organizations have embraced the concept of teams and team work so much that we’ve seen the ‘supervisors’ replaced by ’team leaders’. I see it today more than ever, as all the projects I work on (and most IT people do) are so complex that one individual cannot is not enough and teams of developers/engineers have to be employed; having members work together is a must. Sadly, it is not always the case. Too often do we see teams working in total disconnection. People having different agendas and putting them before the team. Team leaders that fail to instill the proper working environment within the team and lack the leadership to bring it together in a positive manner. I believe companies should look closer at the way their teams operate and spend more resources insuring that the synergy needed is present.

  2. Sid said

    that’s true. A group cannot be mistaken for a team. it’s a very interesting post.

  3. Tamara Cunningham said

    I think team building is something we all use in our careers in some way. We produce and become more productive by other groups doing their part to make the success of the product as a whole. With each team doing their part and accomplishing that portion then as a team we can be very successful.

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