Working on a team can either be a wonderful experience or an awful and exhausting challenge. So what creates such differences?
In successful teams, people have respect for each other and know they can put differing points of view on the table, honestly and openly. Even when they disagree, they are comfortable engaging in powerful dialogue to reach aligned agreements in support of the team’s goals.
Conversely, dysfunctional teams usually lack respect. Back stabbing and talking behind members’ backs replace open communication. Members are not able to arrive at an aligned decision and may work on their own agenda without interest or thought for how their actions impact other members or the overall goals of the team.
Team Building Is A Continuous Activity
Make no mistake: Successful teamwork does not happen without real effort and work. It all starts with leaders who are committed to team building and have the courage to speak the “unspeakable” to their teams:
- They make individual and team development a priority, every day, not just at team retreats.
- They see team building as creating a culture of mutual respect, collaboration and open communication.
- They have the courage to “release” team members who undermine the team’s ability to align on decisions, or negatively impact the atmosphere of the team. Letting these people go is essential to preserving the team’s morale, commitment and ability to work together to deliver strong results.
Creating the Right Team Building Culture
One of the keys to strong teamwork is to bring in different types of talent, each contributing a unique set of strengths. That, however, requires that the team spend time learning about each other and how to best work together. So, here is a simple team building exercise you can do with your teams to increase communications and build stronger working relationships:
- Each team member schedules individual meetings with everyone on the team.
- Each person tells the other team member:
- What they should start doing?
- What they should continue doing?
- What they should stop doing?
- The person giving the feedback must be honest and open in their assessment, without being disrespectful.
- The listener must not respond or get defensive. They just say, “thank you”, take notes or record the feedback.
- The content of the conversations must be held in confidence.
- The team leader also participates in the exercise, setting the example of honesty and confidentiality.
If done with respect and an open mind, this is an incredibly powerful team building activity that creates understanding and a collaborative mindset within the team. What kind of team are you on? Contact me if you feel you could use coaching to improve your team building and collaboration.