Tag: Team Building

The Ultimate Guide to Team Building and Teamwork

For most of us, teamwork is a part of everyday life. Whether it’s at home, in the community, or at work, we are often expected to be a functional part of a performing team. This guide will encourage you to explore the different aspects of a team, as well as ways that you can become a top-notch team performer.

We will be covering the following topics in our ultimate guide to team building and team work (click on a heading to go directly to that section):

Defining a Successful Team

Defining Success as a Team

Success is determined by a wide range of factors. When we are given a project or an assignment we are also usually given a metric to which we can gauge the success of it. Having a strong team will benefit any organization and will lead to more successes than not.

What is a Team?

A team is a group of people formed to achieve a goal. Teams can be temporary, or indefinite. With individuals sharing responsibility, the group as a whole can take advantage of all of the collective talent, knowledge, and experience of each team member.

Team building is an organized effort to improve team effectiveness.

An Overview of Tuckman and Jensen’s Four-Phase Model

Educational psychologist Bruce Wayne Tuckman, Ph.D. was charged by his boss at the Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda MD with a review of 50 articles about team behavior. From this body of work, Dr. Tuckman conceived his theory of group developmental processes in 1965.

The Forming Stage:  Groups initially concern themselves with orientation accomplished primarily through testing. Such testing serves to identify the boundaries of both interpersonal and task behaviors. Coincident with testing in the interpersonal realm is the establishment of dependency relationships with leaders, other group members, or pre‑existing standards. It may be said that orientation, testing, and dependence constitute the group process of forming.

The Storming Stage: The second point in the sequence is characterized by conflict and polarization around interpersonal issues, with concomitant emotional responding in the task sphere. These behaviors serve as resistance to group influence and task requirements and may be labeled as storming.

The Norming Stage: Resistance is overcome in the third stage in which in-group feeling and cohesiveness develop, new standards evolve, and new roles are adopted. In the task realm, intimate, personal opinions are expressed. Thus, we have the stage of norming.

The Performing Stage: Finally, the group attains the fourth and final stage in which interpersonal structure becomes the tool of task activities. Roles become flexible and functional, and group energy is channeled into the task. Structural issues have been resolved, and structure can now become supportive of task performance. This stage can be labeled as performing.

In 1977 Dr. Tuckman, collaborating with Mary Ann Jensen, proposed an update to the model, termed Adjourning.  It describes the process for terminating group roles, task completion, and the reduction of dependencies.  This stage has also been called “mourning”, especially if the team’s dissolution is unplanned.  The first four stages are the most commonly used parts of the process.*

* Smith, M. K. (2005) ‘Bruce W. Tuckman – forming, storming, norming and performing in groups, the encyclopedia of informal education, www.infed.org/thinkers/tuckman.htm.   © Mark K. Smith 2005

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Types of Teams

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a team as a number of persons associated together in work or activity.   Teams are formed for many purposes.  Examples include project teams, ad-hoc teams, quality improvement teams, and task forces.  Sometimes the team is formed to work on a goal as an adjunct to a traditional hierarchy in an organization.  At other times, the team is designed to replace the hierarchy.

Several roles help to keep a team operating smoothly.

Team Leader

  • Moves the team to accomplish its task
  • Provides a conducive environment for getting the work done (location, resources)
  • Communicates with the team

Team Facilitator

  • Makes things happen with ease
  • Helps the group with the process
  • Enables the group to produce the “how” decisions

Note:  Facilitators may be members or non-members of the team.

Team Recorder

  • Writes down the team’s key points, ideas and decisions
  • Documents the team’s process, discussions, and decisions

Time Keeper

  • Monitors how long the team is taking to accomplish its tasks
  • Provides regular updates to the team on how well or poorly they are using their time
  • Collaborates with the team leader, facilitator and others to determine new time schedules if the agenda has to be adjusted

Team Members

  • Displays enthusiasm and commitment to the team’s purpose
  • Behaves honestly; maintain confidential information behind closed doors
  • Shares responsibility to rotate through other team roles
  • Shares knowledge and expertise and not withhold information
  • Asks questions

Self-Directed Teams

A self-directed team is a team that is responsible for a whole product or process.  The team plans the work and performs it, managing many of the tasks supervision or management might have done in the past.  A facilitator (selected by the team or an outside individual) helps the group get started and stay on track.  The facilitator’s role decreases as the team increases its ability to work together effectively.

E-Teams

An e-team is a group of individuals who work across space and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technology. Members have complementary skills and are committed to a common purpose, have interdependent performance goals, and share an approach to work for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

Geographically dispersed teams allow organizations to hire and retain the best people regardless of location.  An e-team does not always imply telecommuters, individuals who work from home. Many virtual teams in today’s organizations consist of employees both working at home and in small groups in the office, but in different geographic locations.

The benefits of an e-team approach are:

There are a few caveats when using e-teams.  They frequently operate from multiple time zones, so it is important to make sure that there is some overlapping work time.  In addition, unless a camera is used for meetings, working virtually means that there is no face to face body language to enhance communications.  Therefore, intra-team communications must be more formal than with a team whose members meet physically.  Care also needs to be taken to make sure no one is left out of the communications loop just because he or she is not visible.  E-teams demand a high trust culture.

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The First Stage of Team Building – Forming

The First Stage of Team Development – Forming

What makes up a good team? Well, that question is open to interpretation, but we will start with the first step in the team building process which is forming. We will discuss what makes up that stage and how each person in the team fits into the process.

Hallmarks of This Stage

When a new team forms, it concerns itself with becoming oriented.  It does this through testing.  It tests to discover the boundaries of interpersonal and task behavior. At the same time, the members are establishing dependency relationships with leaders, fellow team members, or any standards that existed when the group formed. The behaviors of orientation, testing, and dependence become the process called Forming.

Members behave independently when the team forms.   While there may be good will towards fellow members, unconditional trust is not yet possible.

What to Do As a Leader

Strong leadership skills are essential in the Forming stage.  The team leader must:

  • Provide an environment for introductions
  • Create a climate where participants can begin to build rapport
  • Present a solid first agenda so that the goals for the team are clear.

What to Do As a Follower

Because the members of a new team may experience uncertainty and apprehension, it’s important to help team members feel comfortable and that they are a part of the group. In addition, helping team members enhance their listening skills will allow them to focus more clearly on the objectives, thereby helping to maintain interest and enthusiasm for the work of the team.

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The Second Stage of Team Building – Storming

We will look at the Storming phase where the team focuses on their objective. This is the reason the team was created, and we will break down where the leaders and followers fit into this stage. Team members will now begin to fill certain rolls and the team is starting to come together.

The Hallmarks of This Stage

In the Storming phase, the team starts to address the objective(s), suggesting ideas.  It empowers itself to share leadership. Different ideas may compete for consideration, and if badly managed, this phase can be very destructive for the team.  Egos emerge and turf wars occur. In extreme cases, the team can become stuck in this phase.

If a team is too focused on consensus, they may decide on a plan which is less effective to complete the task for the sake of the team. This carries its own set of challenges. It is essential that a team has strong facilitative leadership during this phase.

What to Do As a Leader

Team conflict is normal in this phase, and is a catalyst for creativity. But the leader must address any conflict immediately and directly so issues don’t fester. Once you understand two sides to an issue, you can help the team generate a win-win solution.  Assertive communication is an important skill during this phase of the group’s evolution.  It is also important to help team members continue to build trust.

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The Third Stage of Team Building – Norming

The Third Stage of Team Development – Norming

By now the team should be in place and everyone has their role with progress beginning on the objectives. Goals have been set and people are now beginning to work on their tasks.

The Hallmarks of This Stage

As the team moves out of the Storming phase, it enters the Norming phase. This tends to be a move towards harmonious working practices.  Teams begin agreeing on the rules and values by which they operate. In the ideal situation, teams begin to trust themselves during this phase as they accept the vital contributions of each member toward achieving the team’s goals.

What to Do As a Leader

As individual team members take greater responsibility, team leaders can take a step back from the leadership role at this stage.  It is an opportune time to provide team members with task and process tools, or even an energizer to keep enthusiasm levels high.

What to Do As a Follower

Because team members have gained some mutual trust, they are freer to focus on process and task. Being a link in a chain is a great way to visualize followers in this stage. If one link is not pulling its weight, or is not as strong as the other links the chance of success is lessened. Everyone needs to work together.

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The Fourth Stage of Team Building – Performing

The Fourth Stage of Team Development – Performing

The team should now be well into their work and progress made on their objectives. Communication is going well and team members are sharing knowledge and working well together.

Hallmarks of this Stage

Once teams move from Norming to Performing, they are identified by high levels of independence, motivation, knowledge, and competence. Decision making is collaborative and dissent is expected and encouraged as there will be a high level of respect in the communication between team members.

What to Do As a Leader

Since the team is functioning in a highly independent way in the Performing phase, the leader shifts partially into a support and mentoring role to provide task or process resources to help the team complete its objectives.

What to Do As a Follower

Because the Performing stage implies high interpersonal trust, knowledge, and competence, participants can perform higher level analyses to support decisions toward team objectives.

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a simple tool that allows specific ideas to be easily categorized to help support the adoption of a solution to an objective.

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Team Building Activities

Team Building Activities

Team building is an organized effort to improve team effectiveness.  All members of the team must be committed to the idea in order for the effort to be effective. Team building can be indicated for any team or for a work team that is considered to be” in trouble”. Team building implies hard work that continues on after the initial training session.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Team Building Activities

The Benefits of Team Building Activities:

  • Teambuilding improves productivity and motivation.
  • Teams will gain and increase ability to solve problems.
  • Teambuilding helps break down personal and political barriers and allows for rapport building.
  • The process can help level the playing field between outgoing and shy team members.
  • Participating in teambuilding can help teams overcome performance problems.

See more benefits of team building here

The Disadvantages of Team Building Activities:

  • Teambuilding requires expert facilitation in order to be successful. Not every team leader has innate facilitation skills.
  • Activities can be time-consuming for teams with a short-term charter.  And if team members are part-time, they may have conflicting feelings about the time the teambuilding takes.
  • If several levels of management are on the team, those members may be reluctant to open up.
  • Conducting teambuilding activities electronically or by conference cannot be as effective face-to-face sessions.
  • Some teambuilding exercises involve touching or physical movement, which can make some people uncomfortable.

Find out what to do when team building activities go wrong

Team Building Activities That Won’t Make People Cringe

There are many choices of activities and techniques to foster team building.  Which you choose depends upon your assessment of the team, the skill sets of the members, the amount of available time, geographical considerations or constraints, and the team’s objectives. 

Choosing a Location for Team Building

A teambuilding session can be intense, and often involves games or other physical exercises.  It’s important, therefore to select the location carefully to promote the best possible learning outcome.  Regardless of whether you hold your teambuilding session on or off site, there are some important considerations to explore.

Click here for the best team building venues in South Africa

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Making the Most of Team Meetings

Team meetings are extremely important in team building and facilitation.  It is very important that they are well structured and have a set purpose and time. When a meeting is run well it is a fantastic tool as it provides a forum where a lot of information can be given to a lot of people in a short amount of time. Issues can be addressed and action plans set into play.

Setting the Time and the Place

Giving thought to time and place considerations for a team meeting can go a long way toward producing a more effective meeting outcome.  Below are some elements to think about.

  • Is the location convenient for participants?
  • Quiet.  Is the meeting going to be held in an open environment?  Near the plant?
  • Is this an e-team meeting?  Or a meeting with members in remote locations or different time zones?
  • What time of day is best?
  • Are there time zone considerations for e-teams or remote participants?
  • For what other interruptions and distractions can you anticipate and plan?

Trying the 50-Minute Team Meeting

In some companies, meetings are stacked up on the hour like planes in the landing pattern at O’Hare Airport. The 50-minute meeting concept is simple; instead of a full 60-minute meeting, why not give people time for a bio break, a fresh cup of coffee, and “commuting time” to the next meeting?

50-minute meetings also help manage:

You can’t always have a 50 minute meeting, but if you’re meeting will run several hours, you could have a connected series of 50 minute meetings. The extra 10 minutes in each hour — set at a consistent clock time such as 50 minutes after the hour — could allow for stretches, breaks, or a quick e-mail session.

Using Celebrations of All Sizes

The team just finished a ten-month project to implement SAP in a small manufacturing company. The project delivered on time, and under budget.  It’s time to celebrate! Celebrations can take many forms.  A checklist of elements to consider can help you decide how best to say thanks.

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Solving Problems as a Team

Solving Problems as a Team

One of the most common objectives of a team is to solve a certain problem. It is usually why a team is created. Team members bring a diverse set of skills to the team and this provides a great scenario and the best chance in finding a solution. Because the team is comprised of individuals that bring a unique skill set, it provides the team with a “the whole is greater than its parts” setup which is a valuable tool.

Read: Problem Solving Team Building Activities

The Six Thinking Hats

In 1999, Dr. Edward de Bono published a book entitled Six Thinking Hats.  He theorizes that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways — or states — which can be identified, deliberately accessed, and therefore planned for use in a structured way, allowing team members to develop strategies for thinking about particular issues.

Six Thinking Hats is a powerful technique that helps teams look at important decisions from a number of different perspectives. It helps them make better decisions by pushing members to move outside their habitual ways of thinking. It helps them understand the full complexity of a decision, and identify issues and opportunities which they might not otherwise notice.

In order to make it easier to clearly identify and work with these states, colored hats are used as metaphors for them.  The act of putting on a colored hat allows individuals to symbolically think in terms of the state, either actually or imaginatively.

White Hat:  Neutrality: Participants make statements of fact, including identifying information that is absent — and presenting the views of people who are not present — in a factual manner. 

Red Hat:  Feeling: Participants state their feelings, exercising their gut instincts. In many cases this is a method for harvesting ideas; it is not a question of recording statements, but rather getting everyone to identify their top two or three choices from a list of ideas or items identified under another hat. This is done to help reducing lists of many options into a few to focus on by allowing each participant to vote for the ones they prefer. It is applied more quickly than the other hats to ensure it is a gut reaction feeling that is recorded. This method can use post-it notes to allow a quick system of voting, and creates a clear visual cue that creates rapid if incomplete agreement around an issue.

Alternatively it may be used to state ones gut reaction or feelings on an issue under discussion – this is more common when using the hats to review personal progress or deal with issues where there is high emotional content that is relevant to discussion.  Finally, this hat can be used to request an aesthetic response to a particular design or object.

Black Hat:  Negative Judgment: Participants identify barriers, hazards, risks, and other negative connotations. This is critical thinking, looking for problems and mismatches. This hat is usually natural for people to use, the issues with it are that people will tend to use it when it is not requested and when it is not appropriate, thus stopping the flow of others. Preventing inappropriate use of the black hat is a common obstacle and vital step to effective group thinking. Another difficulty faced is that some people will naturally start to look for the solutions to raised problems – they start practicing green on black thinking before it is requested.

Yellow hat – Positive Judgment: Participants identify benefits associated with an idea or issue. This is the opposite of black hat thinking and looks for the reasons in favor of something. This is still a matter of judgment; it is an analytical process, not just blind optimism. One is looking to create justified statements in favor. It is encapsulated in the idea of “undecided positive” (whereas the black hat would be skeptical – undecided negative).  The outputs may be statements of the benefits that could be created with a given idea, or positive statements about the likelihood of achieving it or identifying the key supports available that will benefit this course of action

Green Hat:  Creative Thinking: This is the hat of thinking new thoughts. It is based around the idea of provocation and thinking for the sake of identifying new possibilities. Things are said for the sake of seeing what they might mean, rather than to form a judgment. This is often carried out on black hat statements in order to identify how to get past the barriers or failings identified there (green on black thinking). Because green hat thinking covers the full spectrum of creativity, it can take many forms.

Blue Hat: The Big Picture: This is the hat under which all participants discuss the thinking process. The facilitator will generally wear it throughout and each member of the team will put it on from time to time to think about directing their work together. This hat should be used at the start and end of each thinking session, to set objectives, to define the route to take to get to them, to evaluate where the group has got to, and where the thinking process is going. Having a facilitator maintain this role throughout helps ensure that the group remains focused on task and improves their chances of achieving their objectives.

Encouraging Brainstorming

Brainstorms are a simple and effective method for generating ideas and suggestions.  They allow group members to use each other as creative resources and are effective when a subject is being introduced. The goal is to rapidly generate a large quantity of ideas. Subsequent sorting and prioritizing of the ideas is usually needed to refine the results.

Building Consensus

Consensus is a point of maximum agreement so action can follow. It is a win-win situation in which everyone feels that he or she has one solution that does not compromise any strong convictions or needs. To reach consensus, group members share ideas, discuss, evaluate, organize, and prioritize ideas, and struggle to reach the best conclusions together.

A good test for consensus is to ask the question “can you support this decision?” If everyone can support it, the group has achieved 100% consensus.

Consensus is not always the best strategy. In some cases, reaching consensus does not result in a better decision or outcome. For example, group members are capable of unanimously agreeing on a completely incorrect solution to a problem. But generally, reaching consensus remains a highly desirable goal.

To make consensus work, the leader must become skilled at separating the content of the team’s work (the task) from the process (how the team goes about doing the task). But the process should get the most attention.  A facilitative leader helps a team to solve its own problem.  The problem-solving process is as follows:

  1. Identify the problem or goal.
  2. Generate alternative solutions.
  3. Establish objective criteria.
  4. Decide on a solution that best fits the criteria.
  5. Proceed with the solution.
  6. Evaluate the solution.

Everyone involved in the process should understand exactly which step is being worked on at any given point. When team members sense a problem, they are usually reacting to symptoms of the problem. But they are side effects of the real problem which usually lies below the surface.

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Encouraging Teamwork

Encouraging Teamwork

For every team member that believes and works for the team the chances of success go up exponentially. That is the reason why it is so important in teamwork and team building, as it provides the greats chance of success.

Some Things to Do

  • Promote an active learning climate for the team
  • Try to relate the team building strategies to the team’s work
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies
  • Constantly evaluate both your output and your process. In short, ask regularly, “How are we doing?

Some Things to Avoid

  • Being aggressive — instead of assertive
  • Failing to let others express their opinions
  • Inadequate planning

Some Things to Consider

Encouraging teamwork means making a commitment, and requires practice. The process is not instant and take some time, so be patient. Do not be discouraged by mistakes, learn from them.

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Role Playing Team Building Exercises

Team Building Through Role Playing

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Role playing is a useful tool for team building in social learning situations. It requires a minimum of two people, which makes it suitable for small groups. This type of team building exercise allows team members to examine situations from different points of view and prepare for different situations that they will face in the real world.

People typically love or hate role playing activities. The purpose of role playing is to encourage the team to engage with the topic, prepare for different scenarios, and see different points of view. Providing examples will help team members engage and learn in the role playing activities. Once role playing is acted out, the team should debrief and discuss what they learned from the scenarios. When done correctly, role playing is an effective social learning tool.

Related: Types of Team Building Exercises, Fun Games that You Can Use for Team Building

Identify Work Related Scenarios

The first step to effective role play is identifying work related scenarios. Scenarios will vary according to each team. Identifying the scenarios requires the topics to be researched and written well. Make use of scripts and take your time making decisions.

When choosing work related scenarios, try using open discussion. Brainstorm problems and situations that the team will face. Make a list of these, and determine which ones will make effective role playing scenarios.

Example:

Add Variables

Variables are situations that change from one scenario to the next. These are what makes it possible to create different role playing scenarios for each problem. Things that change include the number and nature of the characters and the settings. As these details change, the role playing will change. For example, a role play scenario with a customer can vary. Variables include phone communication, returns, irate customers, etc. Each variable alters the dynamics of the role play and determines that appropriate response from the participants.  When choosing variables, identify the ones that target your team’s needs.

Assign Roles

The details of the role play must be clear. They include the setting, number of participants needed, the role of each participant, and the nature of the problem. The next step is to assign the roles to each person participating. The roles playing scenarios should be short. The goal is for each participant to play each role, which is why role playing between two people works well. Playing the different roles allows the participants to see things from multiple perspectives. It also helps everyone engage with the scenario completely.

Prepare Role-Players

Before engaging in role playing, it is a good idea to provide the players with a little guidance. Role play is not an excuse to act out. A few ground rules will help keep the role playing activities in line. You need to address appropriate behavior during role playing activities and how to stay focused.

Examples of Ground Rules:

  • Profane language is not allowed.
  • Sexual innuendo is not allowed.
  • Stay on the topic outlined in the scenario.

Act It Out

Role playing requires people to act out different scenarios. This can be difficult to for some team members if they are shy or uncomfortable. This is why it is important to create a comfortable atmosphere and begin with a demonstration. Remind participants that they are acting out a role, and encourage them to have fun with the situation. You may want to lead them in breathing techniques or visualization techniques to help improve their mindset before the team building activity.

Debrief

After completing the role playing exercises, groups should debrief. This allows participants to share their observations and what they learned. There are many different ways to debrief. For example, you may choose to have people write short explanations, lead a discussion, or a combination of both. The method of debriefing you choose will depend on the size and dynamics of the team. Regardless of the way you debrief, you should end the session by reviewing the main conclusions that the team made on the subject.

Mirror Good Examples

Demonstrating role play ahead of time will make team members more comfortable with the idea. It will also increase participation and provide an example that will guide them as they perform their own role play scenarios. Examples for people to mirror may be done in different ways. You may ask two volunteers to perform in front of the class, or you may perform a role play with another leader or a participant. When providing an example for people to mirror, it is a good idea to start with a prewritten script. This will prevent any awkward pauses or confusion.

General Role Playing Tips

Every role playing team building exercise and setting is unique and should be treated like it is. Individualizing role play will increase its effectiveness. Team leaders have different options that will improve role play for each team. Making sure that participants are comfortable is the single most effective tip for improving role play.

Tips:

  • Ask for feedback after the demonstration.
  • Do not force people to perform demonstrations.
  • Pair the role play with a game to make it more interesting.
  • Try to use small groups so you can better observe them.

The size and dynamics of the group will determine how the role play should be done.

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What to Do When Team Building Activities Go Wrong

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Even if we create excellent team building programs and training plans, as facilitators we also recognize that a game or activity that worked with one team may not work with another. In order to be comfortable that you have selected the best activities, consider the following:

  • Avoid activities that would annoy you if you were a participant.
  • Adjust the length and type of activity to suit the length of the team building session. A one-day workshop may or may not benefit from a 45 minute icebreaker at the beginning; a five or ten minute icebreaker is probably just fine. However, if your team is taking part in a three to five day workshop and the outcomes improve when participants get to know one another really well, then an extensive game of up to an hour is appropriate.
  • Know your audience. Senior staff does not usually want to look silly or foolish in front of their subordinates. Junior staff may not be comfortable looking silly in front of their boss.
  • If participants arrive in business clothes, they may not be comfortable with really active games. If your session will be highly active or calls for casual clothes, make sure that participants know that ahead of time.
  • Participants who work together may know each other very well will find some exercises redundant. Be selective about the team building activities that you choose.
  • Learning dealing with personal development subjects such as communication or team building will benefit from games more so than training that relates to computer software, for example. The software group, however, might really need one or even several short energizers throughout the day to maintain motivation levels as well as retention.

Related: Effective Team Building Activities

If an activity flops: If a team building activity does not go over well with your team, don’t push it through to the end just because it’s a part of your lesson plan. Sometimes the dynamics of a group do not support an activity.

Here are some things that you can do if an activity flops.

  • Stop the activity and refocus the team. You can let them know that something went wrong, and that you are going to try again or you can abandon it altogether and move on.
  • Watch the energy levels. It is not unusual to expect that if an activity fizzles, the energy in the team will decrease sharply. People may feel that they have done something wrong. An energizer will get everyone reinvested in what is going on and restore those energy levels.
  • Organize an on-the-spot debriefing session and have the team identify what went wrong, and how to remedy the problem or move beyond it. Do not focus on why things went wrong, since that can lead to blaming or negativity that shouldn’t be introduced to the team building session. Focus the conversation on what and how.
  • If the team  building activity was applicable to the learning objectives and would work with some modifications, then make some changes and use it again. If it really isn’t applicable, then let it go and develop something that will enhance the training session the next time that it is offered.

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Assessing Learning during Team Building Sessions

Assessing Learning during Team Building Sessions

ACCESS OUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TEAM BUILDING AND TEAMWORK

Often, team leaders may assess learning before and after a team building session, but they may neglect to check in with the team while they are the team building session. It’s very important to include this in your training plan, particularly since most training programs start with foundation concepts and build towards advanced concepts. If your team gets lost at the beginning, your entire team building program could be in jeopardy.

Related: Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Reviewing Learning Objectives

At the beginning of the program, make sure you review the learning objectives of the course with the team. Give them the opportunity to give you feedback about the objectives:

Are all the objectives clear?

Is there anything that is missing?

Do the objectives seem reasonable?

Do participants understand how these learning points can translate back to the workplace?

During the team building program, check in with participants to make sure you’re still on track with the learning objectives. When participants are asked to perform evaluations, point out the ties back to the learning objectives.

Performing Hip-Pocket Assessments

During the team building session, check in with participants and evaluate them on reactionary and learning levels. Questions that you will want to ask include:

How does the team feel about the team building activities?

What has been the best thing about the team building so far? The worst thing?

What has the team learned?

What would the team still like to learn?

You may also want to ask specific questions about key content points.

Quizzes and Tests

Quizzes and tests are a good way to measure how much the team are learning during the team building session. Midpoint tests are good in many situations, including:

Workshops that have a lot of content

Workshops with difficult content

Long workshops

Topics that depend on each other

Don’t forget that a test doesn’t have to mean an hour-long exam. Try some of these fun ideas instead:

Divide participants into pairs or teams. Have them write quiz questions for each other. If the group is competitive, make it a tournament.

Place sheets of flip chart on the walls with key topic words. Assign a group to each sheet and have them review that topic. Or, have participants walk around and jot their own notes on the sheet, and review as a group.

Do you remember the picnic game from your childhood? Each person in the group would bring something to the picnic that started with a particular letter. The group would start with A and move through the alphabet. Play this game with your group, but choose a topic related to the workshop.

Play a game show like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune, with topics tied to your content.

Have participants sit in a circle. Toss a soft ball to a person and have them name one thing that they have learned so far. Have participants toss the ball around until everyone has spoken. Make sure to include yourself in the game!

Skill Assessments

Quizzes, questionnaires, and tests are great for evaluating many types of knowledge. However, you may need additional tools to evaluate changes in behavior, abilities, and attitude. Below is an introduction to some of the tools that can help you evaluate these types of learning.

Demonstrations: Demonstrations can be a very powerful teaching tool, particularly for complex tasks. One method is to demonstrate the desired task, and then have participants demonstrate it back to you. Or, place participants in groups or pairs and have them demonstrate the task to each other. Just monitor the activity to make sure that the information is correct.

Role Play: Role plays are often listed as participants’ least favorite part of a workshop, but they are very helpful when learning new behaviors. Conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, communication, and training are just a few of the topics where role plays can be helpful.

To make the most of role plays, try these tips:

Give participants the option to take an active or inactive role.

Have clear instructions and roles.

Provide constructive feedback.

Provide tip sheets on the behavior to be role played.

Games: Games can provide a fun yet educational learning experience for participants. Make sure to practice the game ahead of time and make sure that it truly helps participants practice the skill that they are learning. And don’t forget – always have a backup plan.

Simulations: When they are well designed, simulations are excellent ways to assess how well a participant has learned a skill. They are particularly useful in situations where it is imperative that participants have excellent knowledge before going ahead with the real task, such as medical procedures or machine operation.

You can enhance the usefulness of these tools by adding a subjective rating system to them. For example, you could have a scorecard for demonstrations and role plays, or perhaps the simulator can provide a report on the user’s success and failure rates.

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Encouraging Teamwork

Encouraging Teamwork

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For every team member that believes and works for the team the chances of success go up exponentially. That is the reason why it is so important in teamwork and team building, as it provides a greater chance of success.

Some Things to Do

  • Promote an active learning climate for the team
  • Try to relate the team building strategies to the team’s work
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies
  • Constantly evaluate both your output and your process. In short, ask regularly, “How are we doing?

Some Things to Avoid

  • Being aggressive — instead of assertive
  • Failing to let others express their opinions
  • Inadequate planning

Some Things to Consider

Encouraging teamwork means making a commitment, and requires practice. The process is not instant and take some time, so be patient. Do not be discouraged by mistakes, learn from them.

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Seven Myths About Failure

Seven Myths About Failure

The following are some of the myths about failure which you can use to help your team to change their perspective on failure.

Myth Number One: Failure is Avoidable

One of the most persistent myths about failure is that it somehow possible to avoid it. Everybody fails and make mistakes. If you are human, you are going to experience some failures. On the road to success  your team will:

  • Learn lessons.
  • Find out there are no mistakes – only lessons.
  • Find out lessons are repeated until they are learned.
  • Find out that if they don’t learn the easy lessons, they get harder.
  • Know that they have learned a lesson when their actions change.

Related: Resilience Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Myth Number Two: Failure is Objective

What determines whether some action is a failure? Is it the size of the problem it caused or the monetary cost. Or is it the heat from the boss or the criticism from peers? Only the team members themselves can really label something that they did as a failure. The team’s perception of and response to  mistakes, can determine whether their actions were  failures. It is important for your team not to see setbacks as failures.  Three steps forward and two steps back is still progress.

Myth Number Three: Failure is the Enemy

Most teams are afraid of failure, but it takes adversity to create success. Teams that achieve don’t see a mistake as the enemy. If your team has permission to fail, they have permission to excel.

Myth Number Four: Failure is an Event

Failure is not a one time event, failure is a process. Success is also not a destination, but a journey that the team takes. Just as success is a process, so is failure a process. Failure is not a place your team arrives at, but how your team handles the challenges along the way.

Myth Number Five: Failure is Irreversible

Mistakes are not irreversible if your team is able to keep everything in perspective. Problems arise when your team only sees the spilled milk and not the big picture. Teams who correctly see failure, take it in stride. Every event, good or bad, is one small step in the process.

Myth Number Six: Failure is a Stigma

Mistakes are not permanent markers. When your team makes a mistake, they should not allow it to get them down. They must not allow it to become a stigma, but make each failure a step to success.

Myth Number Seven: Failure is Final

What appears to be a huge failure, doesn’t need to keep your team from achieving.

 

Source: Failing Forward, John C. Maxwell

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What Your Body Language is Communicating to Your Team

What Your Body Language is Communicating to Your Team

When you are communicating something to your team, your body is sending a message that is as powerful as your words. When talking about body language, remember that our interpretations are just that – common interpretations. For example, the person sitting with his or her legs crossed may simply be more comfortable that way, and not feeling closed-minded towards the discussion. Body language can also mean different things across different genders and cultures. However, it is good to understand how various behaviors are often seen, so that we can make sure our body is sending the same message as our mouth.

Related: Communication Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Think about these scenarios for a moment. What non-verbal messages might you receive in each scenario? How might these non-verbal messages affect the verbal message?

  • Your boss asks you to come into his office to discuss a new project. He looks stern and his arms are crossed.
  • A team member tells you they have bad news, but they are smiling as they say it.
  • You tell a co-worker that you cannot help them with a project. They say that it’s OK, but they slam your office door on their way out.

In this article we will show you how to use body language to become a more effective communicator. It is also important that as a team leader you learn to interpret body language, add it to the message you are receiving, and understand the message being sent appropriately.

All About Body Language

Body language is a very broad term that simply means the way in which our body speaks to others. We have included an overview of three major categories below.

The way that we are standing or sitting

Think for a moment about different types of posture and the message that they relay.

  • Sitting hunched over typically indicates stress or discomfort.
  • Leaning back when standing or sitting indicates a casual and relaxed demeanor.
  • Standing ramrod straight typically indicates stiffness and anxiety.

The position of our arms, legs, feet, and hands

  • Crossed arms and legs often indicate a closed mind.
  • Fidgeting is usually a sign of boredom or nervousness.

Facial expressions

  • Smiles and frowns speak a million words.
  • A raised eyebrow can mean inquisitiveness, curiosity, or disbelief.

Chewing one’s lips can indicate thinking, or it can be a sign of boredom, anxiety, or nervousness.

Interpreting Gestures

A gesture is a non-verbal message that is made with a specific part of the body. Gestures differ greatly from region to region, and from culture to culture. Below we have included a brief list of gestures and their common interpretation.

Gesture Interpretation
Nodding head Yes
Shaking head No
Moving head from side to side Maybe
Shrugging shoulders Not sure; I don’t know
Crossed arms Defensive
Tapping hands or fingers Bored, anxious, nervous
Shaking index finger Angry
Thumbs up Agreement, OK
Thumbs down Disagreement, not OK
Pointing index finger at someone/something Indicating, blaming
Handshake Welcome, introduction
Flap of the hand Doesn’t matter, go ahead
Waving hand Hello
Waving both hands over head Help, attention
Crossed legs or ankles Defensive
Tapping toes or feet Bored, anxious, nervous

 

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Fun and Interesting Facts About Karaoke

Fun and Interesting Facts About Karaoke

Karaoke originated in Japan, but it has become a popular activity throughout the world. The following are some interesting and fun facts about this popular past time.

  1. The word Karaoke actually means “Empty Orchestra” in Japanese.
  2. Karaoke was born in a Japanese town called Kobe when a band failed to show up for a gig in a bar. The innovative owner played some music and asked his customers to come up and sing.
  3. The most popular song requested at Karaoke Bars is “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.
  4. There are over 100 000 karaoke bars in China.
  5. The record for the longest karaoke performance by one person lasted 101 hours, 59 minutes and 15 seconds.
  6. The largest worldwide karaoke consisted of 160 000 participants.
  7. Japanese businessmen often hire professional singers to coach them how to improve their performance so that they can impress their clients.
  8. There is Karaoke World Championship, which started in 2003.
  9. Many Karaoke Champions go on to secure record deals.
  10. The 4th week in April is national Karaoke week.
  11. Some karaoke machines in Japan not only rates the performance of the singer, but also tell the singer how many calories were burnt during their performance.

TBAE’s Karaoke Challenge team building activity is a great way for your team to get to know each other and bond together. The Karaoke Challenge always results in a lot of laughter as fellow team members try and outdo each other to show off their singing talents. The Karaoke Challenge is also an excellent activity for encouraging the more withdrawn and shy team members to step outside their comfort zones… click here for more information

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Team Building Quotes About Laughter

Team Building Quotes About Laughter

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Laughter is an important part of building a team. Being able to laugh, play and have fun together makes being part of a team more enjoyable and helps the team to solve problems, connect with each other and be more creative. Playing with a problem can often lead to a creative learning opportunity. Make laughter, humor and play a prominent part of your team and creativity will thrive in your team.

Related: Laughter Games Team Building Activities

Laughter is also a powerful way to combat stress and conflict. Humor lightens burdens, connects you to others and inspires hope. It is an excellent resource for surmounting problems and enhancing relationships within a team. Laughter relaxes the body, boosts the immune system, releases feel good chemicals and even keeps your heart healthier.

We have put together the following quotes about the team building benefits of laughter:

“Laughter connects you with people. It’s almost impossible to maintain any kind of distance or any sense of social hierarchy when you’re just howling with laughter. Laughter is a force for democracy.” — John Cleese

“A good laugh is a mighty good thing, a rather too scarce a good thing.”
— Herman Melville

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”
— Mark Twain

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
— Lord Byron

“An optimist laughs to forget; a pessimist forgets to laugh.”
— Tom Nansbury

“As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.”
— A Jewish Proverb

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”
— Jean Houston

“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
— Dr. Seuss

“He who laughs, lasts!”
— Mary Pettibone Poole

“I have always felt that laughter in the face of reality is probably the finest sound there is and will last until the day when the game is called on account of darkness. In this world, a good time to laugh is any time you can.”
— Linda Ellerbee

“If Laughter cannot solve your problems, it will definitely DISSOLVE your problems; so that you can think clearly what to do about them”
– Dr. Madan Kataria

“If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you’re old.”
— Edgar Watson Howe

“If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know the man, don’t bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, or seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you’ll get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he’s a good man…All I claim to know is that laughter is the most reliable gauge of human nature.”
— Feodor Dostoyevsky

“If you would not be laughed at, be the first to laugh at yourself.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“It is bad to suppress laughter. It goes back down and spreads to your hips.”
— Fred Allen

“Laugh my friend, for laughter ignites a fire within the pit of your belly and awakens your being.”
—Stella & Blake

Laughter has no foreign accent. — Paul Lowney

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How Your Team Can Avoid Office Politics

How Your Team Can Avoid Office Politics

Getting involved in office politics can seriously harm the success of your team. The work environment often draws team members into behaviour that will ultimately damage peer-to-peer relationships. The following are some guidelines for your team to follow in order to avoid getting involved in office politics.

Avoid Gossip

There is no upside to gossip. Not only does it diminish the person saying unkind things, but it also diminished those listening to what is being said. Encourage your team to not only avoid gossiping about others, but also to avoid listening to gossip. Remind them that whoever gossips to you will also gossip about you.

Stay Away From Petty Arguments

In most organizations you will find past grudges, ongoing feuds and petty arguments. Your team must avoid getting sucked into them even if they think they can solve them. It is a sign of maturity to know when something is petty and when it is not. Your team must know when to jump in and when to sit back and listen.

Stand Up For What is Right, Not Just What is Popular

Wise people often sit back and listen, but do not hesitate to stand up for what is right even if it is unpopular. Teach your team that it is time to stand up for what is right when someone is being treated in a way that they themselves would not want to be treated.

Look At All Sides Of an Issue

There is great value for your team members in seeing issues from as many sides as possible. It always pays for your team to avoid being dogmatic in their thinking.

Don’t Protect Your Turf

Politics is often about power. People who want to win at all costs, fight and scrap to keep everything that belongs to them. Your team members should look at what is best for the team and not only best for themselves. If they have to give up some space to help the team, then they must be encouraged to do that. What matters the most is the team.

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

To develop trust with others, your team must be credible and consistent. Trust is only achieved when what you say, what you do and what you say you do all match up.

Related: Trust Outcome Based Team Building Aactivities

 

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