Effective Team Building Basics....

This article outlines some team building basics for creating effective team building programs, including how to avoid 4 common pitfalls.

If you are new to team building concepts, our team building questions section may also be helpful. It covers lots of other team building basics, including:

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Thanks to Sal Silvester, the founder and president of 5.12 Solutions, a team building company based in Colorado, USA for the following article about common pitfalls and keys to successful and effective team building. 

Understanding Effective Team Building Basics

Over the past 9 years I have spent time with hundreds of clients and thousands of people creating successful team building programs.

Throughout my career, I have discovered that the concept of "team building" means different things to different people.

Regardless of how long the program is, I have always defined team building in three ways:

  1. It is a tool to help accelerate team formation.
  2. It is strategic in nature.
  3. It is focused on skill development and behavioral change.

Understanding Team Building Basics-

Why Team Building Fails

If you want to create a program that will have a positive impact on your team, it is important to pay attention to the pitfalls you may encounter.

Here are 4 common reasons why team building fails.

  1. It is irrelevant - there are no clear objectives - the facilitator never spoke to the "decision maker" prior to the event

  2. It is ambiguous - there are no clear "tools" to take back to the workplace to help team members be more effective 

  3. Lack of commitment - the program isn't linked to broader professional development efforts - there is no follow-up scheduled as part of the program 

  4. Lack of experience - the facilitator has no real business experience and never spent time in the boardroom - the facilitator has limited knowledge about business or your industry

If you see symptoms such as these within your programs, it is likely you won't see a change in how your team collaborates.

So, what are the keys to making team building effective?

Understanding Team Building Basics –

Keys to Effective Team Building

Team building can have a profound effect on the way teams collaborate, but to achieve that level of success you must incorporate The 4 P's of Strategic Team Building.

They are:

  1. Personalization: The program must be based on clear objectives and desired outcomes. Information should be gathered through a "needs analysis" process, and you should have a clear answer to the question - "why do we have a need for this?"

  2. Programming: The team building should be integrated into a broader professional development plan and should include follow-up to reinforce the desired behavioral changes. You should also clearly understand the level of impact your event may have. Programs that are 1-2 hours in duration may be fun and break down some barriers, but are only 'energizers.' Programs 3-8 hours in duration may enable "discovery" if well facilitated. Programs 1+ day may actually generate skill development and behavioral change.

  3. Participation: For the program to be successful, key leaders must actively support the program, participate in the program, and provide coaching after the program.

  4. Practicality: The best team building programs provide tools that team members can bring back into the workplace and use to be more effective as they collaborate and communicate with each other. A day on the challenge course generally doesn't provide this. Rich content with easy to use tools (minimize the fluff and theory) is essential.

So, there you have it. It's pretty simple, really.

Avoid the pitfalls and follow the 4 Ps and you'll have a program that helps, not hinders, your team.

Thanks again to Sal Silvester of 5.12 Solutions for this article. Working with teams is Sal's passion. He has a unique perspective on team development and leadership gained through his experience over the past 17 years as an Army Officer, an executive at Accenture, and founder of 5.12 Solutions. He has led and managed teams in the desert of Kuwait, the mountains of Turkey, and in the offices of many clients on process improvement, organizational change, and training projects. For more information about his Colorado-based firm, see the 5.12 Solutions listing in our team building directory.

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