When you think of the word ‘team’, do you think of competition and the pressure to win? Does the very word trigger memories of historical humiliations on the school oval? Maybe it’s time for a refresh. Harness the power of relationships so your team is motivated and engaged. The result: everyone batting for the same team.
When is a Team Not a Team?
We all learn through our participation in groups. From families of origin to school classrooms and beyond, we learn from our interactions with others. But a key difference between a collection of coexisting individuals and a thriving team is a shared purpose.
A Shared Purpose
The aim of uniting a team around a shared purpose is management 101, right? So why do so many businesses and organisations still invest thousands of dollars onboarding employees, then leave the communication of vision, mission and values to dry words on the pages of last year’s Annual Report?
There’s an ‘R’ in Team
In today’s climate of individualism, we can forget that together – to paraphrase Helen Keller – we can achieve so much more than we can alone. And there is one central ingredient we need in order to unlock this powerful potential. It’s the silent ‘R’ in team – Relationship. Put simply, the more we get to know each other, the more connected we become. And the more connected we are, the more we want to support one another to succeed and thrive.
Since the ground-breaking experiments of the Hawthorne Studies in the 1920s, psychologists and Sociologists have helped us understand the importance of relationship and a sense of belonging in building team cohesion and productivity.
Group Hugs and Role-plays
Ok, so Team Building as a concept has copped a bad rap over the years, with clichéd images of awkward role-plays and ill-conceived trust exercises. The very announcement of a ‘staff retreat’ can trigger a tsunami of sick leave applications from employees who would sooner eat their own toenail clippings than spend a weekend exposing the parts of themselves that they have so far managed to conceal.
The task of transforming employees into engaged and motivated team members doesn’t have to be awkward or anxiety-provoking. With the right support from a skilled and credentialled facilitator, growing your team will be fun and will almost certainly increase staff engagement and productivity. If you are a creative Manager, who is ready to go it alone, my three top tips below may help you ensure a positive experience for all:
1. Consultation – Take the time to speak with team members individually to ask what they would hope to get out of the activity. Their input should inform your content and process.
2. Safety First – Team members won’t always feel comfortable in group activities, but they should always feel safe. Take time to develop group agreements that create a safe, supportive space for all.
3. Reflection– Half the learning from any team building activity comes from reflecting on the activity together. Make time for debrief and use broad, open questions to invite contributions.
Chris Pye is a Relationship Coach who helps individuals, couples and families to transform conflict and communication difficulties into deeper connections.
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