Leadership Perspectives

So you want to do some Team-building…

February 9, 2016
Marie Peeler

But do you want to build your team? 

It’s a key question because sometimes leaders engage in ‘team-building’ in order to build their teams.  Sometimes they just want to do some team-building.  It’s important to understand the distinction and to know what your goals are when you begin a team building process.

Whenever I get a call from someone who wants to do “a team-building.” I always ask a few key questions:

  • Why do you want to do a team-building?
  • What key results are you looking for?
  • What one thing could happen that day that would positively thrill you?

Here’s why these questions are important.

Why do you want to do team-building?

  1. Problems. Sometimes there are serious issues that impede the effectiveness of the team:  A team may not communicate well, important topics may be off limits, or some team members may have no voice.  Other teams may not be effective because there are power issues, the mission is unclear, or team members just don’t ‘get’ one another.  Still other teams have a thorny organizational issue or question that they want to collectively to resolve.
  1. Learning. Often, leaders want team-building participants to learn something and return to the office with tangible new skills or knowledge.
  1. Fun and comradery. Sometimes, recognizing that everyone needs a break now and again, leaders simply want to give participants a day out of the office to have fun and get to know each other on a personal level.

There may not be one single impetus.  Frequently, leaders want to give teams an opportunity to have fun and learn something or solve an issue.

What key results are you looking for?

This is a critically important question because some results take several events to achieve and others can be accomplished in a single afternoon.  This will, in part, determine the resources that will be required in terms of participant time commitments and budget.  So ask yourself:

  1. Am I looking for progress or completion? Do I want to do a day of team building that moves us incrementally closer to our goal or do I need to invest in a series of interventions with multiple modalities to accomplish our final objectives?  Another way of looking at this is “Am I looking for a process or an event?”
  2. Am I willing to ask the team to do pre-work? As a facilitator, I can assign work that the team can do prior to the event or between the events that will help move the team closer to the end result faster. But realistically, pre-work just isn’t always viable, in which case it’s important to be realistic and to know that up front.
  3. Is everyone on the same page? Results are easier to achieve if everyone agrees on the desired results.  For this reason, and to break the ice with team members, I’ll often interview team members ahead of time to ascertain their views and objectives.

What one thing could happen that day that would positively thrill you?

You would think that the answer to this would be the same as the previous question, but it often isn’t.  This question is designed to get at the real outcomes that will allow the leader – and others – to feel that the day was well spent.  It also taps into the secret goals and dreams that sometimes we don’t dare wish for.  “I’d be thrilled if Karen and Jim would speak to each other again.”  “I’d feel the day was well spent if, for once, we left a meeting with a clear action plan.”

Knowing what you really want as you embark on your team-building endeavor will allow you to plan a day that meets your objectives, whether it be to build your team or ‘do a little team-building.

Call me at 781-294-9203 if I can help you figure out how to maximize the success of your team-building.

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