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Years ago, it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear a supervisor on the factory floor, barking, “Stop talking and get back to work.” After all, the formula for success was work equals productivity and talking equals wasting time.
I recall a study conducted by Robert Kelly of Carnegie Melon University asked people, “What percentage of the information that you need to do your job is stored in your own mind?” In 1986, the answer was 75%. In 1997, the answer was 15%. We can only imagine what that statistic would be today, but I’d guess it’s closer to 15% than 75%. This means that communication is more important than ever!
With the proliferation of communicating via email, face-to-face communication has become a thing of the past. When I cofounded Team Builders Plus in 1991, most of the team building programs that I conducted were for groups that all worked together on the same of floor of the same building in the same town. Now, groups are geographically dispersed around the world in places with different time zones, languages, and values. Is it any wonder that communication is typically identified as a major issue in organizational climate surveys?
People need to stop typing and start talking. The telephone is better than email, but face-to-face communication is best. How else are we going to get the information that we need to do our jobs?
I recently read an article that posed the question “is team building a waste of time?” In the article, one of the problems stated was that the exercises did not translate into their current project and issues. This is a key component when identifying the right team building program for your group.
Some folks think team building is heading to the bar after work for a few drinks and chicken wings or playing putt putt golf. If you are looking for a fun social activity, then those may be great choices for you. If there are issues or skills in your team that you want to build upon, then kicking back a few beers will not improve communication skills and accountability. When searching for a team building program, its important to understand what you want the end result to be. Team building can mean different things to different people. For some, team building means fun, interactive activities. For others, team building connotes a process in which people address the issues that are inhibiting a positive and productive work environment.
Prior to any team building intervention, you need to have a clear understanding of your expectations. You may wish to consider those behaviors that you believe the group needs to Stop, Start and Continue.
If your team is not getting along, morale is down, everyone is overworked and annoyed with each other, and you decide to take part in a treasure hunt, you won’t end up solving any of your team’s issues. Think of it this way. You go to a wedding and sit at a table with family members who you typically don’t get along with. You’ll be cordial during the reception but when you are back home, your feelings toward your family wouldn’t have changed.
So why team building? Because team building can be high-energy, engaging and it can target specific issues and goals for your team or it can just be a day of fun.
Baseball teams (little league through professionals) from across the country have worked hard to train for the upcoming season. They did not just work on throwing, fielding and batting. They were also building relationships with teammates and coaches since the bonding that goes on during training will last through the whole season. The team with the best athletes and skilled players are not always the team that makes it to the championships. Often the championship teams are the teams that have truly bonded, and the teams that value the personal and professional success of every other member of the team.
The same holds true in organizations. However, before we look at organizations, let us answer the following question: What is Team Building? Well, let’s break it down. By definition, a “Team” is a group of people that are working towards a common goal. And, “building” is to establish, increase or strengthen. So as we put these two words together, “team building” refers to a process of strengthening the relationships and the dynamics of an intact group working towards a common goal.
Whether your team is a sport team or a department in a Fortune 500 company, it is important to understand that the most successful organizations within their industry have a sense of individual and team worth. This often starts with team leaders and department managers being proactive with developing their team. Although it is very important to implement team development processes around the dynamics and issues of the team, often this time of the year brings about the desire to do a fun team building events.
So, is it the right time to build your team? The real answer is, there is never a bad time to start, but many teams enjoy the change of weather as an opportunity to do a fun team building event in the outdoors, such as GeoQuest, Team Olympics, Team Sailing…
Believe it or not, the holidays are already just around the corner and my favorite holiday is first on the list - Halloween! Halloween is the perfect opportunity to gather your team and take part in a fantastic team building activity called Movie Mayhem! Imagine your CEO dressed up as the Big Bad Wolf in Granny’s pajamas or picture your co-workers dressed as pirates swashbuckling it up on the promenade. Then aargh ye teammatees, Movie Mayhem is callin’!
Teams begin the activity learning about the different roles on a movie set and important part they play in the production, much like a team where you work. Then, the fun begins. Grab hold of your video camera, identify your team’s movie genre and take to your private room to create your script. You’ll then dive into your box of costumes and props and the fun and filming really gets cooking! Movie Mayhem is like no other team building activity. How often do you get to dress up as a cowboy or a medieval knight at work?
Once each team wraps up shooting and editing their movies, everyone will gather together for the gala movie premiers. Grab hold of some popcorn and treats, sit back and prepare to laugh yourself silly! After the Movie Mayhem movies are shown, the award ceremony begins and everyone will vote for awards like Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Funniest Character, Most Ridiculous Actor and many more categories. We’ll work with you to create some insane categories too!
Everyone can get candy at Halloween. Wouldn’t you rather walk away with an “Oscar” statue?
We’ve been learning about team building ever since we were four years old watching Saturday morning cartoons in our pajamas. Think about Tom and Jerry for a moment. Poor Jerry Mouse spends most of an episode being chased, stepped on or whacked by a fly swatter by Tom Cat until he finds an ally or two. Usually Jerry teams up with Spike the bulldog, his Cousin Muscles or the little yellow canary Cuckoo and once they put their heads together and join forces, the tables turn on Tom.
We play this game of cat and mouse every day at work whether it's about landing a sale, preparing for a presentation or figuring out how to do more with less (as many companies are these days). We need to rely on our team members because the fact is, everyone is going through the same stresses so why go through it alone? Do you even know all of your team members and coworkers? We need to take the time to get to know our neighbor so that we can think outside the box to solve our problems. Maybe they have the solution on how to stop spending our day running from Tom? Team building isn’t just needed when there are communication issues on the team. Most often, team building is a great opportunity to bond, have fun, release stress and learn how to think outside the box.
We would all be more inclined to ask for help if we got to know our coworkers better. Whether it's during a fun team building activity like Movie Mayhem, a GeoQuest Treasure Hunt or solving a murder mystery during CSI NegativeZero, you’ll have the opportunity to work with your team and find some common ground. That stranger at the water cooler could be your “Spike” or that guy who always winds up being first in the lunch line may just be the “Cuckoo” you need.
Scooby Doo had his pals in the Mystery Machine, Yogi had Boo Boo, Fred had Barney and even Mickey has his Clubhouse friends. Cartoons don’t go in it alone so why should we?
Be sure to check out the great article where co-owners of Teambuilding, Inc. Merrick Rosenberg & Jeff Backal are featured regarding teams and team building. The article is in the April 2011 issue of South Jersey Biz.
New York City is a fascinating place to visit. Besides taking in a Broadway show or eating a ginormous deli sandwich, popular tourist sites to see are the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Grand Central Station and the American Museum of Natural History. NYC is also a fantastic host to some of the best team building opportunities in the country. Teams can solve clues around Grand Central Station as they take part in CSI on Location or they can utilize hand-held GPS units for a GeoQuest treasure hunt throughout Central Park. The Bronx zoo is another great location for a treasure hunt called ZooQuest.
Looking for a fun, outdoor philanthropic team building idea? NYC is the perfect backdrop for Kindness Wins. Take to the streets and earn good karma points as you help others. Kindness Wins provides a timeout from thinking of ourselves and turns the focus on helping others. Imagine for a moment that your group spends a half-day together putting smiles on the faces of fellow team members and total strangers. More kindness equals more points.
When the weather gets a bit chilly, you can take your team building adventures indoors. ClueQuest is an indoor treasure hunt at the American Museum of Natural History where you and your team can explore exhibits you may have seen in the Night at the Museum movie such as dinosaurs, the Easter Island statue and Teddy Roosevelt.
If going to a venue like the museum is not an option because you’re going to be in a conference room, then really any of the team building programs that Teambuilding, Inc. offers would be a great idea, such as:
In the city that never sleeps, the possibilities for team building programs are endless.
Have you ever heard the expression, “I hate team building”?
Throughout my 20 year career in the team building world, I have heard this expression numerous times (of course, this is before they work with my organization). More often than not, team building participants love their experience as team building is a lot of fun and helps develop necessary skills such as; trust, communication, team bonding, and breaking down silos... But, even when a very small percentage of people make this statement, it concerns me as an owner of a national team building firm. So, I decided to probe a little bit further.
Over the past few years when people made comments to me like “I hate team building” or “not another team building program,” I asked them to elaborate on their comment. What I found interesting during this informal study was that everyone answered my question in a similar fashion, and it went something like this:
“My company has us do wacky team building programs. At first they were fun, but now I just don't have the patience for more of these touchy feely games. Enough is enough. We don’t learn anything and it just wastes everyone’s time.”
Typically, the individuals that respond like this are from companies that imposed team building activities on their employees without really determining the needs of their people.
If you want your staff to have a positive team building experience that helps them improve their group dynamics, I would suggest the following:
1. Assess the needs of your team – Without conducting a needs assessment (such a our Team Effectiveness Inventory), how do you know the real issues that need to be addressed during the team building program?
2. Combine developmental programs with fun team events – For example, one month do a program such as Why We Click With Some And Clank With Others (which is a developmental session on adapting your communication style to create a more powerful relationship with those on your team) and a few months later do a program like GeoQuest (a fun team bonding treasure hunt using hand held GPS units).
3. Don’t overdo team building – If you are implementing more than six team building events during a year, it will dilute the effectiveness of each program.
These are just a few suggestions. To learn more, I would recommend reading Team Building? 12 Questions to Help you Make the Right Decision by Merrick Rosenberg, Chief Learning Officer and President of Team Builders Plus.
Leaders, facilitators and team members often overlook the power of positive team building quotes. Not only can sharing a great quote at the right time help build credibility, it can also be motivating to those you are speaking to. I would suggest using quotes whether you are facilitating a leadership workshop, leading a team building program, or just speaking to your peers or staff.
I have chosen several quotes to share with you as a resource. Please use them when appropriate to help boost the effectiveness of your message. Of course, be sure to give credit to the original source.
None of us is as smart as all of us. - Ken Blanchard
No man is wise enough by himself. – Plautus
Teamwork divides the task and double the success. - Unknown
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. - Henry Ford
You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. - Doug Floyd
We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately. - Benjamin Franklin
It is amazing how much people get done if they do not worry about who gets the credit. - Swahili proverb
None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful. - Mother Teresa
The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime. - Babe Ruth
Michael, if you can’t pass, you can’t play. - Coach Dean Smith to Michael Jordan in his freshman year
We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees. - Jason Kidd
A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle. - Japanese proverb
A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way. - Swahili proverb
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. - Michael Jordan
Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success. - Stephen Covey
When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality. - Joe Paterno
It’s easy to get good players. Getting them to play together, that’s the hard part. - Casey Stengel
Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. - Vince Lombardi
There are few, if any, jobs in which ability alone is sufficient. Needed, also, are loyalty, sincerity, enthusiasm and team play. - William B. Given, Jr.
Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. - Unknown
Build for your team a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another and of strength to be derived by unity. - Vince Lombardi
A championship team is a team of champions. - Unknown
No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
A major reason capable people fail to advance is that they don’t work well with their colleagues. - Lee Iacocca
For additional teambuilding quotes or stats, you can visit our website, Teambuilding, Inc.
What is your favorite team building or leadership quote? We would love to hear from you, please share in the comment section.
Have you ever been in a relationship where it is impossible to please everyone all the time? Well here is my situation with my work team. Although I love my teammates dearly, we were having a constant battle over the office temperature. (I know, if this is our biggest point of contention, I shouldn’t complain.) While this seems to be a minor issue (and I suppose it is), Old Man Winter is knocking on our door and the battle over the thermostat is getting, well, quite heated. Half of my team members come to work bundled up in parkas, while others (including myself) wear short sleeves.
As a team building company, I want my fellow team members to be happy. And while I consider us to be a high-performance team, I know that most teams are not as fortunate as us. Every day, we see how they struggle with all sorts of workplace problems, including jumping to conclusions, making rapid decisions before assessing the whole situation (especially when they are on short deadlines), and not searching for the best solution to a problem…
These types of workplace problems can be easily solved when approached properly and the correct processes are used. Determining the best solution for the problem requires an effective problem solving process. We have helped numerous clients to enhance their problem solving skills through our training program, Solving Workplace Problems.
This program can be used to resolve anything from our climate zone issue in our office to fixing the larger scale issues that plague companies. Do you want to learn more about this program? Check out the Teambuilding, Inc. Management Training program: Solving Workplace Problems.