Monthly Archives: December 2017

Team Building Activities

Team Building Activities are stimulating problem-solving tasks designed to help group members develop their capacity to work effectively together. Many team building and initiative tasks are like kids games, others are novel, complex tasks and designed for specific needs. More elaborate initiative tasks can involve ropes courses, night-time activities, and exercises lasting over several days.

Several work environments require somewhat a bit of teamwork in order for things to run smoothly and with motivation to each in everyone. Team building activities are usually used to create a relationship between coworkers or co employee. On the other hand, various work environments want teamwork but the employees work separately. Employees working jobs like these really need team building activities to help them stay related with other workers.

Team building activities are often used in meetings, presentations, workshops, training seminars, education programs, corporate training, with college, high, middle, elementary and pre-school school groups, sport teams, teacher training, youth work, and correctional settings. Team building exercises can be adapted for virtually any setting, young or old, large or small, and across cultures. An important part of team building exercises is participants’ reflection and discussion about the activity, how they approached the situation, and possible points of learning. For example, a group could be videoed during an activity and the video watched, analyzed, and discussed, to help extract potential learning from team building exercises.

As the head of the sales department of a large company, I’m the one responsible to all, especially for the performance of all my employees. When sales are slow moving, I try to use different incentives to motivate everyone. I used to offer them bonuses and prizes for top performers to work well in order to come up improvement on productivity for a short period of time. But, this type of idea resulted to competitive atmosphere around the office, which is not what I wished for them to do. I want to utilize a team building activities in order to work in the office, so that my sales force work together to come up improvement on productivity, not to work as individual.

The first idea that I was made is contact the human resource department to let them know of my wants to implement team building activities among my sales force. The head over there told me that they don’t have anyone employees there that had that kind of experience in teaching them team building activities, so she suggested that I used outside or other consultants for that kind of job. I started to contact the names of a few local firms to find out about their services. I was very overwhelmed by the selection of team building activities these consulting firms proposed for my sales force.

Employee motivation benefits from team building games, exercises, activities, puzzles and quizzes. I try to use free team building games and exercises ideas to warm up meetings, training, and conferences. These free team building games are also great ice breakers for training sessions, meetings, workshops, seminars or conferences. Team building games and activities are useful also in serious business project meetings, where games and activities help delegates to see things differently and use different thinking styles. To ensure these team-building activities comply with equality and discrimination policy and law in respect of gender, race, disability, age, etc. Although some of the team building activities seemed way too intense for our particular needs, many sounded like they would be perfect for us. Best of all, he could teach us these team building activities over the course of a two-day workshop held right in our offices. This sounded pretty good, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get approval from my boss for the budget expenditure.

I didn’t give up on this; still I started searching for affordable or free team building activities online that contained excellent team building activities. I decided to try a couple of these first that I found online with a proof that this team building activities work well. And I have a better chance to my boss of getting approval for this kind of training in the upcoming.

In the end, I’ve programmed the first round of team building activities for next week. I’m taking in the process very seriously and am spending a lot of time in preparing on this so that I can be fit as a facilitator. I’m very optimistic about the effects of these team building activities will have on my sales force. If you help people with their life-balance and personal fulfillment they become more emotionally mature, tolerant, positive independent, self-sufficient, etc. When the person is okay, so is everything else, including their relationships and communications at work. Developing people involves more than behavior, relationships, skills, knowledge and processes. It’s often more about helping people feel better about themselves; helping the person to feel happy and fulfilled. A good leader can facilitate this. Team building doesn’t have to involve games and exercises – team building might be better achieved by arranging other things which appear to be unconnected to work.

Jobs like this include service oriented professions in places like restaurants and doctors’ offices. The focus of some team building activities involves taking the customer’s perspective. Anyone who has visited a restaurant and received excellent service only to return and not receive the same treatment is more likely to leave disgruntled than someone who had ordinary service to begin with.

Here’s my experience when I was working in one of the establishment as a waitress and I made sure to take extra time to accommodate customers special requests. While this worked well for me independently it really worked against my coworkers and there are times that you simply cannot accommodate every request. There’s an incident happened that, one of my regular customer encountered a different waitresses they were upset when special accommodations were not made. The manager handled this situation by introducing new team building activities that involved taking the customer’s side. I thought this accommodating approach would win over the “treat everyone equally” approach.

I’ve learned that through team building activities I know how to maintain a consistent front for the customer is far better than making special accommodations that can not always be encountered. Mainly, the team building activities centered on inconsistencies. People like consistency. Surprises, especially when it comes to meals, are not well received. One of the team building activities concerned in a taste test. It was a cooking work of art. After we done the test, the chef brought out the same dish. It had sour undertones that didn’t suit the taste of the food.

The second cooking work of art does not match the process of a nice testing, and the chef repeated it. He sent the second and the same dish and it tasted exactly like the original. I know that this second-rate dish wasn’t nearly as good as the initial sweet dish but we flavored the second because we knew what to expect.

The other side of team building activities can also help healthcare workers maintain consistent information to patients. I get frustrated when one nurse told me to stop breastfeeding after 12 months while a second nurse in the same pediatrician’s office suggested that I continue. The conflicting information communicated to me that this staff seriously needed team building activities.

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.

Team Building Maneuvers and the Team’s Leadership

Conquering the Challenge of “Change” through Team Building Maneuvers

Nothing is as upsetting to your people as change. Nothing has greater potential to cause failures, loss of production or failing quality. Yet nothing is as important to the survival of your organization as your people and their response to change.

Research tells us that 70 percent of all change initiatives fail (Source: Author Peter Senge, “The Dance of Change,” Doubleday Press, Toronto, Ont. 1999, p. 3-4). Beyond a doubt, the likelihood of your change initiative failing is overwhelming. Since 2004, I’ve studied, facilitated and taught change processes and experience tells me that change efforts fail for one, two, or all of the following three reasons:

1. Failure to properly define the Future Picture and the impact of the change.
All too often, the “change” initiative addresses the symptoms of current challenges and problems rather than the future the organization wants or needs to create. Change is about creating a desired future, not just correcting current problem/symptoms.

2. Failure to properly assess the current situation, in order to determine the scope within the requirements for change.
Organizations perpetually assess the current situation against current measures of performance. However, change is not the same as problem-solving or project management. Rather, managing change is about moving an organization strategically forward to achieve its vision of the future.

3. Failure to effectively manage the transition of moving from the present to the future.
Experience demonstrates that failure to effectively manage the transition/transformation need is the leading cause of failure for strategic change initiatives. The change itself is not the problem. Change is an event; it is situational: deciding to implement a new system, target a new market, acquire or merge two organizational cultures (Source: Author William Bridges, “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change,” Addison Wesley, Don Mills Ont., p.3). The problem occurs with what happens within the gap between the present and future, after the “change” and before you get to “there.” The reality of change is that change is about people not structures – people are the reasons for stop gaps in change initiatives!

Failure to successfully execute often comes from seeing the change as solely structural, so once the new system is designed and ready for implementation, the new organization is agreed upon and the doctrine papers are signed to legalize the “deal,” everyone, including the CEO, walks away from what is considered (prematurely) a “done deal.” This is a mistake that goes on all too often like a broken record. History is full of examples of organizations and teams that failed when experiencing changing environments (most of them are now extinct). The secret to successfully managing change, from the perspective of the people within the organization and their teams, is “definition” and “understanding.” To make it clear, I’ll explain them in subsets.

Definition and Understanding for the “WHAT” in Teams

It is important to understand that not everyone who works together or in close proximity is a member of a team. This concept is a misnomer for a lot of people. A clear explanation of a team is a group of individuals who are interdependent with respect to intelligence, information, transferable skill sets, resources, and tools and who seek to combine their efforts to achieve a shared-vision towards a common goal. A team, for instance, is either building or falling apart. An essential aptitude for true team building and the maneuvers they require is leading the team into building on a continuous basis. Team building maneuvers lead a group into higher levels of team spirit, cooperation and interpersonal communication. Building teams is the process of developing on the team-dynamics and interpersonal relationship of the people that come together to make-up the unit. Team spirit either grows or it dies based on the dynamics of the unit.

Teams have specific characteristics that should be addressed:

- Teams must be constructed to achieve a shared-vision for a shared goal.
- Team associates are interdependent regarding some common interests; teams are the instrument of sustained and enduring success in leadership and management.
- Teams use strategic thinking, acting, and influence – associates each possess the authority to manage their own stimulus for change.
- A team is a type of group, but not all groups are teams – team leaders know this to be true.
- Teams are formed to best facilitate learning and peak performance while operating in a socialist environment.
- Team associates are not responsible to “self,” but to their team and its mission; their obligation is to guide the unit to find its voice, while strategically and flawlessly executing.
- Teams learn to navigate positive transition to disseminate authority and power for change – and, they understand when it is a “must” to move into greater levels of performance (the difference between ordinary and extraordinary high performance teams).

The difference between ordinary teams and high performance teams are its people and their abilities to overcome the fear of change. High performance teams place a focus on the people who drive the overall performance within the system: “how do you define a high-performance team?” A high performance team is a group of people who are led by an exception leader, ALL having complementary skills, who understand roles and goals, and who are committed to achieving those goals through a shared-voice, as one unit or body, to demonstrate strategic and flawless execution measures for overcoming changing environments.

This team format learns quickly how-to work together toward mutual goals using their individual skills to support one another regardless of the situation they are engaging or any amount of resistance to change from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss or failure.

The “alpha” of the high performance team’s resistance to change is how they perceive the change. The “omega” is how well they are equipped to deal with the change they expect. The team member’s degree of resistance is determined by whether they perceive the change as good or bad, and how they expect the impact of the change to be on the entire unit. Their ultimate acceptance of the change is a function of how much resistance the team member has and the quality of their coping skills and their support system. The job role of the team leader is to address their resistance from both perspectives by helping each member reduce it to a minimal, manageable process level. The success of the response depends on the leader’s ability to lead by example, their level of trust from the members on the team and their ability to persuade the members to overcome their resistance so the unit can move ahead. When the leader is able to communicate a low threat level and/or limited risk, the member’s perception will be one of trust for engaging the objective. Simply, it will all come down to the leader’s relationship with the team; hence, the success of the team not only depends on its members, but also on the leadership they follow.