When most people see the words “Team Building” they immediately think of some ridiculous exercise where one person falls backwards while another person catches them. Or maybe you think about some ridiculous survival scenario (your plane crashes in the desert all you have is some motor oil, plastic sheets, and a candy bar what now) that you and your coworkers spent 2 hours trying to solve. That is not team building, it’s not even close.
A team is defined as the following:
- A number of persons forming one of the sides in a game or contest: a football team.
- A number of persons associated in some joint action: a team of advisers.
- Two or more horses, oxen, or other animals harnessed together to draw a vehicle, plow, or the like.
- One or more draft animals together with the harness and vehicle drawn.
Notice the common theme of all these definitions is a shared goal AND a shared workload. If you are not involved in the work, you are not part of the team. This means managers who are not directly involved in the work of the team should not be included in the team building activities. Trying to force the issue will only result in a weakening of the team as a whole.
The shared goal is core to the concept of team. In building a team it is very important that each team member recognize the same goal. Often people each have their own idea of what they are trying to accomplish. This is detrimental to the team as a whole. This is where management comes in. Managers are there to manage the teams, not participate in them. It is management’s job to determine the goal and focus the team on it.
Equally important is the shared workload. Team members who don’t pull their share of the load actually slow the whole team down. This happens in two ways. First as each team member completes their assignment they must wait on that last team member to finish before they move on to the next stage of the project. Second as team members see one person working at a much slower pace they tend to become frustrated and angry eventually deciding that if that person doesn’t have to work hard neither do they. Again this is where management needs to step in. If it becomes obvious one member of the team is not working to potential, they must be encouraged to work harder, or be replaced fairly quickly.
At the end of the day all of this comes down to communication and this can be the trickiest part of building an effective team. When choosing the people to form your team, you need to understand how each of them works and communicates. One of the most effective ways to gain insight on your potential team member is to give them all behavioral assessments. You can review their personality traits and quickly see possible areas of conflict. You should also assess the managers who will be supervising the team and council them on how to best interact with the team as a whole.
If this seems like a lot of work, it really isn’t. Tools like Hire-Intelligence can make the whole process quick and painless. Implementing these suggestions will make more effective teams and this will lead to better performance and greater employee satisfaction. At the end of the day, better performance means more revenue, and greater employee satisfaction leads to lower attrition. Isn’t that worth a little of your time?