Team Building Events – How to Choose the Best Corporate Team Building Event


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Team Building Events (and specifically how to choose the best, most appropriate, team building event) for your group or situation can be extremely difficult because of… Hello?! Team Building Event Companies! If you Google “Team Building Events,” you will get results from every type of activity from classroom team training, to charity events, to outdoor scavenger hunts, to ropes courses. You will also get results from non-team building activities but fantastic shared-experiences that can be a fun way for teams to spend time together and can be a fun memorable event, but these types of activities are not really team building events — meaning that the results of the activity will be fun and memorable, but will not actually build teamwork unless the team atmosphere is already pretty high.

So how do you choose the best corporate team building activity?

There are three different, main, genres of team building activities or team events. I have listed them below along with the situations that each will be most appropriate.

1. Small Group Shared Experience Team Activities: These types of activities include any type of shared-experience whose primary purpose is to just let the group have fun with each other. As long as you have a small group and a pretty good atmosphere within the group, these types of activities are fun and very inexpensive. You are only limited by your creativity here, so you can do the old standbys like go bowling play golf (or miniature golf). There are neat places like Dave and Busters where your team can have dinner and play pool or arcade games, etc. You could take a day off and go to a theme park or dinner and a show. Pretty much, any type of fun activity will work here. There are lots of “non-team building” organizations who specialize in these types of events. (When I say “non-team building,” I really just mean that these organizations primarily do some other service as their main revenue stream, and team events are just a side revenue stream for them.) Organizations that specialize in these types of activities include big resort hotels, cooking schools, race tracks (racing schools), theme parks, bowling alleys, etc. Once your group size increases to more than 20 people or so, or if you have a specific challenge within your group that you want to improve like communication challenges, a new team leader, groups that have merged together, or other team issues, these type of team activities can actually be counter productive — so be careful unless you have a small group and a pretty strong team atmosphere already.

2. Classroom Team Building: Many people think classroom=boring, because for most of our lives, if we are in a classroom, we are being bored to death. However, good team building companies and instructors are enthusiastic and fun. Teams who have professional facilitators come in and lead these classroom events can really improve a lot of team building activities in a very short period of time. Since participants learn faster when they are having fun, a group can really get fantastic results and feel like the activities were time well spent. This type of corporate team building event is best for groups where a specific team result is trying to be reached such as if an organization merges with another company, and the leaders are trying to create a new team culture or if leadership has changed and the new leaders want to start fresh. If you are having quarterly meetings or annual meetings at your office or if you have breakout sessions at you annual convention, then these types of events work really well in those types of time slots. You can also have these facilitators come out and do keynote speeches that are fun and funny if you have an open slot at your convention or meeting. Unlike the shared-experience events, very few companies specialize in classroom activities, so they are harder to find. Be careful, because if the company specializes in big events and not seminars or workshops, you can end up with a bunch of rah-rah activities that don’t get you the best results. Try entering “classroom team building” or “classroom team building seminars” into Google, and you should get a nice shortlist of qualified companies.

3. Big Group Shared Experience Team Events: This type of event is very similar to the small group team events above, however they are much, much, much more challenging to pull off. For instance, if you have eight people in your group, you can go to a bowling alley and rent two lanes or have two foursomes at a golf course, and everyone will be active the entire time. However, if you have 100 people, or 1000 people, if you try the same activities, at any given time, a ton of people will be standing around watching (doing nothing and getting bored) unless the facilitators really know what they are doing. So if you have a big group and you want your team to have fun and stay active, this is where you really want to invest in a professional team building company. (Especially if your reputation is on the line.) DO NOT leave this decision to your event planner, by the way. Event planners are very good at getting great deals on hotel rooms, organizing complex events, making sure the food works for the group, etc., but many of them will do whatever it takes to please the customer (you). So if you ask them for a specific team building activity, they will give it to you, even if the event or activity is not the best result for your group. You will get a MUCH better result if you contact the professional team building company yourself, because these professionals will help you pick the absolute most appropriate event for your team. If you are making a mistake, the facilitators will tell you, however if you have an event planner as a go-between, and you are making a mistake, the team facilitator will tell the event planner. The event planner, because he/she wants to please you, will likely just find another company who will do what you want. Typically, you will end up with a group from category number one above. So be very careful when you have a lot on the line with a really big group.

The key to picking the best event for your group is to ask two main questions. Question number one is (1) Are you looking for a specific behavior change? If so, hire a team building company who specializes in classroom team training or hire a good team oriented keynote speaker. The second question is (2) Do you have a big group or a small group? If the group is small and you just want the group to have fun, some money and take everyone bowling. If you have a large group and you just want them to have fun, hire a company that specializes in big charity team building events or fun corporate activities and take charge of the hiring of the company and take their advice into consideration. They will save you a lot of money and make sure the event comes off without a hitch.

9 Tips on Organizing a Successful Result Driven Team Building Program

How to Measure Results or ROI from Team Building?

In defining team building, there are many type of such events are organized. Before we could acquire details about Results Driven program, it would proper for us to understand various type of team building.

Team building is known as systematic process towards achieving team bonding and cohesiveness towards accomplish desired objectives. In brief, some of the common types of such programs are:
1. Retreat program – the purpose of this event is to provide an avenue for team members to have fun and feel entertained through games and activities.
2. Basic Team Bonding Program – a program prepared to allow members to acquire conceptual and micro understanding about team work, as well to have proper ice-breaking of every member in the team.
3. Motivational program – is aimed at inspiring individuals of a team to realize their hidden potential and work towards attainment of their goal. With the changes made after team building by each individuals will definitely improve the overall productivity.
4. Conflict/Crisis Management Program – is specifically designed to support an organization to overcome conflict at workplace, team conflict, departmental conflict, sudden crisis response for emerging problem.
5. Results Driven Program – is designed to provide ROI on specific areas through team building. These include Sales Drive, Workplace Productivity Drive, Customer Satisfaction Improvement programs.

The first 3 programs are the most common type of such program organized by organizations. However, over the last 5 years, there are emerging trends showing that most large organization are turning to Results Driven Program as their best option to accomplish their organizations’ objectives. Many MLM and Trading companies are acquiring the expertise of Results Driven program organizers to host their Sales Drive activities. While some other companies are making use of such team building to achieve other objectives, such as Customer Satisfaction drive, Retail Sales Improvement, Safety Response Team Challenge and many other programs focusing on accomplishment of other specific targets.

While many business owners and HR practitioners are still doubtful on this, many other organizations are already reaping rewards or ROI by choosing Results Driven Team Building program.

Let us see how we could utilize Results Driven program to reap a similar or better success in results through such program. There are 9 most important tips on how your organization could make use of Results Driven program to accomplish their organization targets.

1. Team building is for empowerment
Who said Results Driven program has no FUN? This is really a pre-matured judgment. All type of team building should blend the element of FUN and CHALLENGING together. For a program that going to drive results for an organization, it need to incorporate a lot of empowerment towards the audience proper blend of activities. Audience can only be empowered if they feel that they are appreciated. Only appreciated members will truthfully contribute towards growth of their organization.

2. Be clear of your target
Business owners or Management need to be clear that a proper designed program can be used to boost or empower their people to accomplish their objectives. With this in mind, business owners and managers need to come up with specific expectations to accomplish through such event. These expectations could be Sales volume, level of customer satisfaction, productivity improvement, project dateline or others. It need to be specified in quantity or volume.

3. Choose team building consultant
There are 2 different types of organizers of such program at the market place, which are event organizer and team building consultant. Event organizers are normally capable to conduct the first two types of team building. But, the rest need the expertise of team building consultant. As the client, an organization has all the right to obtain useful information on how to accomplish their expectations through such event. At the same time, consultant need complete details about the current performance, demographic details about their target audience and other useful details. It is worthwhile to share such information.

4. Design of program, activities and experiential learning activities
One of the most important area to give close attention in organizing a Results Driven program is on the Program structure. A well designed program should incorporate a mix methodology of team building delivery and it should have the following components; a) Games, 2) Motivation, 3) Challenges, 4) Competition and 5) Rewards. It should have the balance between FUN and LEARNING. Fun is to ensure the audience is excited with the program. While Learning is to ensure that the audiences are with necessary skills/knowledge to be prepared for the challenge.

5. Take Back Challenge
Members should be aware that they have brought back a set of challenges to accomplish within a period of time. A good take back challenges should be briefed thoroughly during the team building, and it should be implemented within 7 days after the program. The duration of challenge could be at least for duration of 1 month. The take back challenge itself should be designed in away that members have to compete to accomplish target given. It will be like a race between individuals or members. For example, the Challenge could; “Who could be the Best Sales Team?’, Which Department has shown Greatest Increase in Productivity?”, “Which shop has highest level of customers satisfaction?” and others

6. Tracking Tools
Since there are target to accomplish, a periodical tracking is required to gather actual performance results. These tracking should generate daily, weekly or monthly reports. Through the report, managers can compare the performance shown by each member who attended the results driven program. A tracking format can be made available through manual report, spreadsheet, software or other options. The best person suggests a proper tracking would be the Team building consultant. Without tracking, it is ineffectual to run a challenge.

7. Management / Leader’s Involvement and Intervention
Management or immediate superiors’ involvement is seen as one of the most important intervention required during implementation of take back challenge. One important matter to note here is that the superior need to use empowerment approach when dealing with their team. Otherwise, the inner confidence and sense of ownership created among staff during team building will defeat the main purpose. Superiors are expected to provide their best support to their team in order to accomplish the given challenge successfully.

8. Offer Rewards
This must be made known that reward plays a crucial role in empowering individuals to perform. Individuals who results driven always want to show their competitiveness by showing that they are in great desire to win the reward offered. Rewards can be offered to most successful individuals or team, and it does not have to be expensive. It would be useful if rewards can be offered on weekly and at the end of the challenge. A hamper, certificate of achievement, mobile phone, paid holiday trip can be useful reward to offer. But, managers must ensure that the rewards offered are worthwhile for the results accomplished.

9. Discuss on measurement of success – ROI
It is very important to measure the success of a Results Driven program by looking at the financial gain reaped compare to money spend to conduct the program. A positive ROI will definitely indicate a similar team building program could be used to accomplish similar or other targets in an organization

Foundations of Executive Team Development – Thoughts for Challenging Team Building Exercises

Having held officer level positions in a few industries: airline, leisure travel, internet, convention, and defense oriented industries, I have participated in and hired consultants to help conduct “team building” exercises; the operative word is-exercises. There are a lot of moving parts to any successful team building exercise.

Let’s take a look at Executive Team Building as a subset of the generic team building exercise. Officer level managers require a whole different approach to Executive Team Building. Here are some thoughts on why senior manager team building is difficult. I have found officer level managers arrive at their positions for three reasons: they are part of a family business; their persona and experiences match a corporate leadership culture (often characterized also as-who you know); and/or, they have skills (achieved through education or former positions) that are needed to fix a problem such as a manufacturing problem. Point being, everyone arrives at the officer level by different and sometimes circuitous methods. By this point-in-time, people’s management styles and personality traits are developed and tested: what you see is what you get. Even this perspective is sliced a little thinner by the way we are wired. For example, engineers approach management from a different perspective than a marketing person. Junior members of a company are much more malleable in shaping their views and are motivated to demonstrate that they are team players.

The title structure of a company may be Senior VP, Executive VP, President, etc., depending on the size of the company. Whatever the hierarchy, the pointy end of the pyramid is very competitive and therefore has far reaching effects on shaping each manager’s attitudes toward their peers. Additionally, senior managers develop a persona within their respective industries that can last a career lifetime. The projection of an industry persona becomes important should a manager feel their career is becoming stagnant and they want to explore career changes.

The point here is that Executive Team Building is really Executive Team Meeting. At senior levels in an executive’s career, he/she has traits that a CEO must recognize and manage through “performance evaluation” tools and not Executive Team Building/Meetings. Team Building is not about shaping relationships between peers. When there is a small cadre of senior manager’s, personality types are evident to all. The politics in these environments can be exacerbated to a level that makes “passive aggression” becomes an art form and Team Meetings are not a cure.

Here is a short case study to illustrate my point of reference.

A few years ago I was part of a growing company in a very dynamic industry. All the officers were A-type personalities and very ambitious to achieve recognition within the industry and by the corporate owner. All were hard driving, creative, highly educated. The senior management ran the age gambit from very young to more experienced and were both male and female. Because this was a very young company, the “charter members” of the senior management team resented new senior manager’s coming into their ranks having not “paid their dues” and fitting into the culture. Most of these managers would minimize a peer on the team rather than let them excel in their respective position (if that someone were competing for the next CEO position).

To solve the problem an organizational psychologist was brought in to get the team working together. The team took a battery of tests and did personal interviews with the psychologist. The results of the tests were reviewed individually with the participants and a team meeting was held to discuss the dynamics at play within the team. Bottom line, it was not a success; probably for the same reasons General’s Patton, Bradley and Montgomery were always at odds-a group of over-achievers with juxtaposed ego’s and the next promotion.

But not all is for naught. Even personal animus within a team may be addressed as long as it is not addressed in a manner that is in the category of “manipulation”. Executive Team Building is not training; rather it is communicating.

Not all meeting or team building programs are for large companies. Most companies in the US fall into the category of family owned or small businesses and they have team building requirements. Further, Team Building is part of a total event. The dynamics of a small group of senior managers is different in purpose and form versus larger groups.

So I can make a point, let’s assume some or all of the above comments are correct.

Every leader knows, events must be well defined and that also applies Executive Team Building exercise as part of the overall meeting objectives. Simply said, lay out the objectives of a Team Building exercise in succinct language. Not in an esoteric manner.

Executive Team Building meetings fill a threefold purpose: 1. communicate high level corporate issues to the executive team, 2. address relationship issues within the team, and 3. work on leadership messaging at target the rank and file employee. Executive Team Building should also be customer focused. Customers and vendors always have input in management speaking with a team voice. A positive corporate culture will always impress the customer.

Executive Team Building should not be looked upon as a mind game or an effort by the CEO/President to create a “can’t we all just get along” executive camp out. At the least it should provide clear goals, agreement of effectively communicating to the company and impart confidence to the organization.

In a small organization with a dynamic senior management cadre, it is the CEO who must keep check on executives who could bring more liabilities than credits to the desired performance of the company. As a company changes due to: the economy, competition, maturity of the market, changes in management, or simply because of new corporate structure, the CEO who must look at his charges and make sure they are all pulling in the right direction.

Uncertain times seems to dictate that very small companies should pay attention to the workings of the executive team and use the Executive Team Building exercise as a “sanity check”. I prefer to use the term-Executive Team Meet: A time to sync-up, renew the relationships, discuss and re-enforce. Remember, Tem Building for executives should not be over used…so make each one special.

Here is where a meeting manager/consultant comes to the forefront-amplifying the experience from the head to the heart. What kinds of activities are available in any venue to support the objectives of the Executive Team Meeting? Recognize that Wine Country is the focus? Think beyond the traditional golf events, or dinners. You can take advantage of hot air ballooning, wine blending for a corporate holiday customer gift, cave dinners, a painting experience, culinary exercises, high profile guest speakers, etc.

Executive Team Building/Meeting is about communication, formatting the message to the employees, unifying the strengths of the team and most importantly, presenting a vital company persona to vendors and customers.

Team Building Events – The 5 Basic Points Everyone Needs to Know.

1. Team Building Explained

For years now, people’s perception of team building has been synonymous with images of people building rafts, taking part in ‘awkward’ trust exercises, or being stranded whilst orienteering in the middle of nowhere.

It may come as a surprise to a lot of people to learn that things have actually evolved.

A survey by Vodafone UK and YouGov has concluded the UK staff have become turned off by team building as they often breed ‘awkwardness’. According to the survey, experiences like being blindfolded and led by colleagues are considered the least effective team-building activities.

Findings showed the most effective events are social events like going out for a drink or a meal; Team building events that are interactive, fun, fast-paced and down-right entertaining event are the sort you will want to share with colleagues.

2. Conferences – The Good/The Bad

Whilst conferences are the single most common way to converge an entire company in one location for a collaborative session of discussion and networking, quite often you are asked to provide Conference Energiser activities to whip-up the room and revitalise delegates throughout the away-day after prolonged periods of intense presentations and slide shows.

A poorly delivered Staff Conference can have a negative impact on the morale of your employees.

Without the addition of carefully choreographed team building activities, energisers or keynote speaker, you can be faced with delegates criticising the day for being “death-by-PowerPoint”, “chalk-and-talk” or another favourite is “analysis-paralysis”.

3. Think about Going Abroad

Organising team building events that are to be delivered overseas and internationally can be a daunting event to manage as there are so many variables and added logistics to cope with; hundreds of flights, hundreds of requirements, hundreds of hotel rooms – all in a venue that aren’t exactly fluent in english – needless to say things can be lost in translation!

That being said the output of such an event is very useful to a team and something where people are away from their comfort zone and having to work together will definitely mould a team quicker and stronger than anything local.

4. What team building events will your team most enjoy?

Often clients want to drill down to finite details about the specific activities that make up team building workshops including a minute-by-minute agenda. Not only is that not applicable for this type of training since it’s often a fluid and dynamic process, but it is really focusing on the texture of the bark on the trees rather than stepping back for a view of the forest.

What is important is having a clear goal for this portion of your meeting. One mistake companies make is having a “We do a team building activity at this meeting every year” attitude with no real thought about what they want to get out of it. How do you choose the right team building activity? It’s best to take the Stephen Covey approach and begin with the end in mind.

Before you start filling out internet forms and making phone calls to team building companies, think about the goals for this session. If you are the information gatherer, press the decision makers for additional information beyond the tired and overused “team building” and “communication” for something more concrete like breaking down silos or building creative problem solving skills. On the surface you might be looking for something fun and interactive, but there’s a good chance that if the company is spending thousands of dollars on this event, someone is looking for tangible outcomes.

Team building activities are exercises that can help teams build cohesion and work through a host of common group issues. They are used as educational tools to provide opportunities to at least begin discussions that can be continued back at the workplace.

How do you choose the right team building activity for your meeting? It’s like the ingredients of a delicious recipe. Instead of focusing on the bok choy, which isn’t particularly interesting in itself but put in context of other ingredients becomes a flavourful dish, begin with the end in mind. If you take a step back and focus on the goals and outcomes from your meeting you will make the right decision for a team building activity.

5. When to do team building? Take a look at January!

Research has shown that one of the best ways to avoid that after Christmas lull into depression is by doing things that actually give you a cause to look forward to something. So why not invigorate your team and give them something to get excited about with a January kick-off teambuilding events. A fun corporate event means that whilst Christmas is over, the gifts just keep on giving. Activities testing physical, mental, skill and creative capabilities revive the thrill of Christmas and good old family fun, and your team will be left feeling energised and ready to take on the working world once more. Or why not revitalise your team and get their engines going with a straight-talking super-car racetrack experience or Golf Day?

There are a range of no-nonsense successful packages catering to any budget and that really aim to target the core skills for devising your perfect team, teambuilding events are guaranteed to put a much needed smile on your employees face… and yours too!

New Year’s resolutions – we’ve all made them. Whether it’s deciding to join the gym and actually use it this year, de-clutter the house or stick to your diet for longer than just New Year’s Day this time around, January 1st is a day designed for CHANGE.

But for all our good intentions and spirit, studies have shown that by January 10th most of us will have already given up our resolutions, a mere nine days after they were made, with three-quarters of 3,000 British admitting they were no longer confident they would stick to their promises for the rest of the month.If you’re failing to see these changes through at home though, don’t let this be the case at work. Take the opportunity to really target the issues you may have with your team and challenge them to raise their game. Now we’re not talking a full-blown bloody boxing match to get the competitive side out of your team or making 2013 changes… instead instil a sense of healthy competition and determination in your employees with a team building corporate event high on energy, high on fun.

Team Building – A Process For Increasing Work Group Effectiveness

Too often team building is one of those vague, misused terms managers call into play as a panacea for sluggish work unit performance. The rise in the popularity and use of team building has paralleled the growing perception of work as the output of teams of workers rather than as compartmentalized tasks on an assembly line. Field Research Findings, such as the ones carried out by the American Productivity & Quality Center during their white-collar productivity improvement, multi-organizational field research efforts clearly demonstrate the importance of effective team structures to the overall performance effectiveness of the knowledge/service worker.

The building of a team requires a great deal more effort than simply recognizing the interdependence among workers and work units. It requires, instead, several carefully managed steps and is an ongoing cyclical process. The team-building process presented in this article offers the members of a work group a way to observe and analyze behaviors and activities that hinder their effectiveness and to develop and implement courses of action that overcome recurring problems.

While the underlying purpose of team building is to develop a more effective work group, the specific purposes of the process will depend largely upon the assessment of information gathered during the initial data collection phase. Typically, team building will seek to resolve at least one of the following three issues:

1. A lack of clear goals and expected performance outcomes: Frequently, interview data from work group members reveal that their performance is generally directed by their individual (and often conflicting) performance goals. In that situation, the team-building model can be directed at establishing overall work group goals, which affect both individual and group effort and behavior, and, ultimately, the performance outcomes at both the individual, as well as the group level.

2. Interpersonal conflict and distrust: A lack of trust, supportiveness and communication not only slows down the day-to-day ability of a group to get work done, but also stands in the way of resolving the conflicts that naturally arise as the group makes decisions about its future efforts.

One way to overcome this is to focus on the work problems and improved interpersonal skills necessary for the team to work inter-dependently and more effectively to accomplish the task. In other words, the interpersonal data would be derived from the work context itself rather than from evaluations directed at individual personalities within the group. It is a concerted effort to uncover mutual needs and desired outcomes … a Win-Win approach.

3. A lack of clear roles and leadership: Obviously, duplications of effort result in sub-optimum levels of productivity. But when initial interviews with work unit members suggest confusion over roles, the issues that surface may go well beyond task-specific problems. They may raise questions about who is providing leadership to the group, who feels empowered to act, what sources of power are being wielded and what interpersonal and inter-group relations underlie the group’s effectiveness. When these issues arise, the team-building model uses group meetings to discuss and clarify members’ roles and responsibilities – both prescribed and discretionary

Who are the “players” in the team building process?

On the surface, a “team” suggests a group of interchangeable individuals of equal status. But in reality, most workplace teams have a supervisor or manager charged with leadership and accountability for the group’s performance. Consequently, the team leader plays an important and somewhat different role than do other members in a successful team building effort. Support from the leader is vital because if he or she does not recognize and accept the need for team building, it is unlikely that other members of the work team will be very receptive to the idea.

The Value and Role of a Facilitator-Coach.

In addition to the leader and other team members, successful team building calls for a third party participant in the process – a Facilitator-Coach, a professional with knowledge and experience in the field of applied behavioral science, but who is not a regular member of the team. This person may be an internal resource person in the organization or be someone from outside the parent company/organization..

There are several roles, which this Facilitator-Coach may perform in team building. Perhaps the most common and critical is that of third-party facilitator, a “gate-keeper.” The Facilitator-Coach also trains and coaches the team in becoming more skillful in understanding, identifying, diagnosing and solving its performance problems. To do this, the Facilitator-Coach gathers data needed for the team to conduct its own self- appraisal and structures a “safe” environment that encourages team collaboration and consensus building. As a change agent, the Facilitator-Coach also serves as a catalyst to help bring about a greater degree of openness and trust and increased communication effectiveness.

Another role of the Facilitator-Coach is that of a knowledge resource person, assisting team members to learn more about group dynamics, individual behavior and the skills needed to become more effective as a team and as individuals.

The Facilitator-Coach should generally avoid assuming the role of the “expert.” That is, the Facilitator-Coach’s major function is not to directly resolve the team’s problems, but to help the team learn how to cope with its own problems and become more self-sufficient. If the Facilitator-Coach becomes the controlling force responsible for resolving the group’s difficulties, he or she has denied the team the opportunity to grow by facing and resolving problems confronting them.

What are the steps in the team-building process?

At the core of the process will be a a well-defined process that is made up of a series of structured experiences and events, ones that will be repeated over time, that have been designed to help the group build and sustain a cohesive, effective, and ultimately, a high-performing work team. This process requires carefully laid groundwork as well as long- term follow up and re-evaluation. And further, team building, to be successful in developing and sustaining high performance, must be viewed and accepted as being a “continuous” and on-going process, not an “event” driven activity.

Team building, from a systems perspective, requires several carefully thought out and managed steps and is clearly understood to be an ongoing cyclical process. The team-building process offers members of a work group a way to observe and analyze behaviors and activities that hinder their effectiveness and to develop and implement courses of action that overcome recurring problems. If successfully implemented, the team building process is integrated into the work team’s day-to-day operations.

Assuming work group manager-leader and team members, after having an opportunity to become aware of what the team building process has to offer and requires of them, have indicated and voiced their support for the team building process, the first preparatory step is the introduction of the Facilitator-Coach to the team. Often this is done by the team leader during a regular staff meeting at which the Facilitator-Coach is introduced to the group. The role of the Facilitator-Coach is discussed as well as the process and potential benefits of team building.

In preparation for the kick-off of the team-building process, the Facilitator-Coach will then take responsibility for the next step – the gathering of data from each team member about the “strengths” and “weaknesses” of the team and barriers to effective team performance. This diagnostic phase will typically make use of questionnaires and/or interviews.

he use of personal interviews has several advantages. First, interviews provide the Facilitator-Coach a better understanding of the team, its functions and its problems. Second, interviews enable the Facilitator-Coach to develop rapport with team members and to begin to establish a relationship of openness and trust. Third, interviews provide the opportunity for each individual team member to participate in the identification of the work group’s strengths and weaknesses. Finally, personal interviews are flexible. On the other hand, the less flexible questionnaire approach ensures that common areas will be covered by all team members.

After conducting the interviews or surveys, the Facilitator-Coach summarizes the information, which is to be fed back to the group during the team-building meeting. A useful way of presenting the comments is according to the frequency with which the items were
mentioned or accorded to major problem areas.

During the actual team-building meeting, the data feedback session becomes a springboard for the rest of the session’s activities. With the assistance and support of the Facilitator-Coach, the group then formulates an agenda and decides on the priorities of the issues raised by the diagnostic phase.

Before the team-building meeting ends, action plans are developed which specify the steps the group will take in attempting to resolve specific problems.

What factors influence the success of team building?

Because effective team building is not a one-shot affair, a schedule of future team- building efforts needs to be established. For lasting change to take place, subsequent meetings will need to review the implementation of action plans and investigate additional problem areas.

As mentioned earlier, the support and commitment of the formal team leader (Work Group Manager) are critical to successful team building. His or her attitude toward the process has an obvious impact upon other team members. Furthermore, because discussion sometimes centers on the team leader’s behavior, he or she has to be open to constructive criticism.

The leader must also fully understand team building, its time requirements and implications. The leader’s own personality and leadership style influence the probability of the success of tear-n building. If the team manager is not comfortable with a participative style of leadership, team development simply will not work.

The other team members should also want to become involved in the effort and believe in its relevance. Otherwise, team building may be viewed as a ploy by the leader to pacify the team or simply as a substitute for effective management. Each individual within the group should be part of the effort and feel personally secure to participate in the process.

Since the team-building efforts may create a change in the relationship between the team and the organization, the support of executive management is also vital. The chances for a successful team-building effort are improved if the team has knowledge of any organizational constraints on the options for making changes within the team.

The timing of team building is another critical factor. If the team is experiencing turmoil or confusion over its direction (mission, goals, purpose, objectives, leadership, changes, etc.), the time could be ripe for team-building efforts to begin because the members may feel a need to establish what is expected of them. Thus, their receptivity to the process is often increased under such destabilizing conditions.

Finally, team building requires adequate time for the activities to take effect. Relatively large blocks of time and even changes in the work setting are sometimes needed for team building. Separation from the workplace during the initial team meeting phase of the process is frequently needed to avoid work pressures and interruptions and to help generate greater commitment and increased concentration from team members.

What are the results of successful team building?

The team-building process may affect several levels within the organization. First, the individuals in the team may become more sensitive to the impact of their behavior on the effective functioning of the team. More self-awareness may also lead to changed behavior patterns. For example, recognition by the team leader that he or she does not share leadership and decision making with others may provide the impetus to adopt a more participative style.

Second, team building may help team members realize that different and better approaches exist to the way the team operates and performs its work. Third, team building may affect the relation- ship of the group to the rest of the organization. For example, a team member may stop using other parts of the organization as scapegoats to hide his or her own inefficient operations. Ultimately, greater harmony among organizational units could well result.

John N. Younker, Ph.D.

John Younker is the President and co-founder of Associates In Continuous Improvement, a Houston, Texas based advisory and educational resource to executives and senior managers. Additionally, he has served, since 1993, as a Chair for Vistage International (formerly The Executive Committee – TEC), a developmental resource for CEO’s and Presidents. John also makes the time to serve as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship and as a Guest Lecturer for the Eisenhower Leadership Series, George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Former roles include the Director of the Our Lady of the Lake University – Houston MBA Program., Senior Vice President for The Institute, Inc. and Vice President and Senior Field Researcher at the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC). John works with a broad range of client organizations, is a frequent speaker and lecturer, and is a well-published author. John holds a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Memphis.