Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/a26f9f83/public_html/articles/includes/config.php on line 159
Effective Team Building Part 1 - Another Brick in the Wall! > NetSparsh - Viral Content you Love & Share

Effective Team Building Part 1 - Another Brick in the Wall!

The first in a series of articles giving a slightly different viewpoint on effective team building, condensed from an original seminar presented by the author, John Roberts. John is a Freelance Training Consultant and director of JayrConsulting Ltd. Part 1 deals with selecting and building the initial team. The ideas expressed are personal opinions built up from many years of experience in the Electronics/Aerospace industry, the Armed Forces, the Telecoms industry and the Training industry. There is no suggestion of this being a 100% solution applicable to or workable in all situations, but it is aimed at getting people to think outside of the norm and question the 'normal' way of doing things.

1. Analogy ? The bricks in the wall

Most people have been on some form of 'team building' course. They vary according to contemporary fashion from things like 'learning how to work together, to build bridges out of sheets of paper', to the more active residential courses, where people build rafts out of rope and washing up liquid bottles, to 'cross a crocodile filled' ravine! They all have two things in common:

(a) They tend to be very expensive in terms of cost per delegate to the participants.

(b) They are actually not very effective in building effective teams when people return to their real life situation.

Teams are about individual PEOPLE and the INDIVIDUAL skills that they bring to the team and how these should be selected and put together to form an effective and lasting entity. All that is needed can be covered in a 1-day seminar/discussion with a group of delegates with no more props than a white board and marker pen. If it is delivered in such a way that the delegates can be coerced to look at themselves and their teams HONESTLY, it can provide effective change in team culture, creating belief and 'buy in' from delegates and without imposing high expenses on clients.

The analogy that I use to explain the basic ideas is that of building a wall, and I use two types of wall to explain the contemporary team building model and the alternative one. The contemporary model is likened to a 'standard' brick wall and the alternative model is likened to a 'dry stone' wall, of the type found in northern fields!

2. The contemporary model and it's shortcomings!

Visualise a contemporary brick wall: Bricks all the same size, weight and shape. In order to stand up the bricks have to be 'glued' together with mortar. Bricks must be aligned exactly in rows vertically and horizontally or the wall will fall down. The mortar has to be replaced periodically, or the wall falls down. If a brick is not exactly the same size as all the others it has to be padded out with extra mortar, or ? the wall falls down! The bricklayer has to keep tending the wall ? replacing mortar etc. ? or the wall falls down! Life of wall is fairly limited due to wearing out of materials, so eventually ? the wall falls down! Bricklayer is competent enough, as long as the bricks match and he has an ongoing supply of mortar and the time to effect repairs.

Key:
Bricks = Individuals and their skills
Mortar = support from Team Leader and Human resources (competencies, assessments etc)
Bricklayer = Team leader

Problems often start at the recruitment stage. The recruiter ( Team leader or manager ) tends to put together an all-encompassing job description, instead of isolating specific individual EXPERT skills that are required for the project and are very unlikely to all be expert skills for one person. You only have to look at the average recruitment advert to see the types of skill lists that people ask for from one delegate! Human resources then compile a list of required competencies based on this information that ALL delegates have to fit into ? and we are well on the way to selecting our almost identical bricks.

What tends to happen now is that you have a team of good 'all rounders' but few people with exciting expert skills in any one thing. So what you get is a team that is competent but not outstanding and this has become the normal model that people tend to have become used to. This type of team conforms to all of the standard corporate 'norms' and is much easier to deal with for a 'team leader' that is also possibly not a truly expert and exciting 'leader'.

Remember ? 'if you do what you have always done ? you get what you have always got!' Over the years I have experienced too many of these types of teams ( and team leaders ) and I know it can be done much better!

The problem is then compounded by the fashion for 'competencies' and 'Annual assessments'. Managers and team leaders are told to assess their team members annually and to concentrate on improving their 'weaknesses'! WHY?

Firstly ? any team leader that waits a year to point out a problem to one of their team should not be doing the job! Communication and feedback between the leader and all team members should be continuous and open at all times.

Next ? why concentrate on improving their weaknesses ? all you are going to do is end up with a collection of 'cloned' bricks again! What you should be doing is emphasising the team members' positives and constantly improving their strengths ? the very skills you hired them for in the first place. If you have someone who is a brilliant programmer, then you want to help them be an even better programmer for the sake of the project and the team ? someone else in the team probably has good report writing skills or whatever. Different people are good at different things ? use it, don't suppress it!

3. The alternative model ? not new but it works!

Visualise a 'dry stone wall' of the type often used for field boundaries. Stones are all different shapes and sizes ? they are selected from what is available, in the right order so that they overlap and fit with each other perfectly to provide a solid fit.

This means that no stone is the 'wrong' size as long as you find others to fit around it. It doesn't matter if all the stones are perfectly aligned as long as they all mesh together to give the wall stability.

There is no mortar used in the wall, it's all down to the skill of the bricklayer selecting the correct stones in the first place so that the individual stones all support each other in the complete wall. The wall doesn't fall down for centuries!

The wall doesn't look as uniform and pretty as the brick wall on the surface but actually performs its' task far better. The bricklayer has to have a real skill in selecting the right shaped stones to make sure they all fit together well in the first place, but once he has done that, maintenance is minimal!

Key:
Stones = Individuals and their skills
Mortar = support from Team Leader and Human resources (competencies, assessments etc)
Bricklayer = Team leader

The first thing that is needed before you can recruit and build a team for you project is an expert 'brick layer' or REAL Team LEADER! ( Not a manager/coordinator or facilitator). This doesn't mean someone who happens to have been in the company the longest and is thought due for promotion. It doesn't mean someone who can write good reports and do all the administration properly ? it means someone who can LEAD PEOPLE! This is someone who can control, cajole, coerce and do anything necessary to get people to perform at their own best whenever it is required, at the same time gaining respect from those around them that they have to deal with. They don't bully, shout or 'use their position' to get things done, people respond to them naturally and TRUST them. It's NOT a promotion, it's another type of skill and you should look for this type of person in all levels of the organisation.

You can teach anyone to play the piano, but not everyone can be a top concert pianist ? it is just a skill that some people have and not others. Leadership is exactly the same ? you can send someone on a 'Team Leaders' course and they will be able to go through the motions of team leading, but what you should look for is a 'natural' ? someone who has the ability to really LEAD people.

If no one of your present employees stands out as having this ability ? look outside for someone. It is not worth compromising on this all important position ? remember you need someone to put that wall together effectively to get the best results!

The team leader should then be tasked with putting together the team ? selecting the strengths that are needed from individual people and making sure that their weaknesses are covered by other people in the team, so that you are putting together the 'stone wall' with all the members supporting each other. As the team is growing, all of the team members should take part in the recruitment and interviewing process ? after all they will have a feel for how someone will fit in with the rest of them. Giving everybody some responsibility for how the team is put together gives them all a stake in its success.

From the start there should be honest and open communication between all of the team members and the team leader. There should be no need for 'Annual assessments'. The Team leader should be aware at all times how their team members are performing in various areas, and in an honest and open environment the team members themselves should be aware of any shortcomings and work towards solving them. A good team actually need very little maintenance input from the Team Leader and should very quickly become self-supporting, just like the stone wall.

Summary

So, if you are considering building a new team, try approaching it in a different light. Think of the people, the skills you want individuals to have ? not the skills they don't have, the overall skills that you want the whole team to have and how they all fit together to give you a solid foundation. Choose a proper 'Team LEADER' to maintain it and put contemporary ideas of 'assessments' and 'competencies' behind you! (Don't tell your HR manager this, unless they are lying down in a darkened room!)

Team Building part 2 ? Honesty is the Key! Will focus on the running of the team once it is built and will be published shortly

Acknowledgements
Adapted from an original article by John Roberts, freelance training consultant, Director of JayrConsulting Ltd. www.jayrconsulting.co.uk This article may be freely reproduced / modified and used in any way, providing this acknowledgement is left in its entirety.

John Roberts is a Freelance Training Consultant and Director of JayrConsulting Ltd. http://www.jayrconsulting.co.uk

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

Forbes

Develop Your Staff Through Team-Building And Team-Learning Opportunities, Part Two
Forbes
I have found that the key to effective team building is to focus efforts on a competency that needs to be developed within your team and then plan a group activity that focuses on that competency. My previous article detailed four competencies ...


Yes! Weekly

Armored Team Building to help fundraise for domestic violence awareness
Yes! Weekly
Armored Team Building uses Krav Maga as a part of their employee enhancement system “that generates heightened executive presence, leadership, and team-building skills in employee groups using the foundation of self-defense as the core platform,” ...


Forbes

Nine Ways To Build A More Collaborative Team
Forbes
Study after study has shown that collaborative teams are more productive overall than teams where each member is sectioned off in their own position. I've seen firsthand that sharing ideas can lead to innovation, and collaboration can build trust that ...


Ghanasoccernet.com

Focus on team building instead of thinking about Prince Boateng ...
Ghanasoccernet.com
Veteran football administrator Jonathan Abbey Pobi has advised Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah to concentrate on building a formidable side instead of ...
Focus On Team Building Instead Of Thinking About Prince Boateng - Abbey Pobi Advises Kwesi AppiahModern Ghana (press release) (blog)

all 7 news articles »

Forbes

Yes, Team Building Is A Waste Of Time--But Trust Is Essential
Forbes
In his recent Harvard Business Review article, “Stop Wasting Money on Team Building,” Carlos Valdes-Dapena opens with a stark assertion: “Most corporate team building is a waste of time and money.” He's right, of course. At least, he's right insofar as ...


San Mateo Daily Journal

Emergency team building
San Mateo Daily Journal
From left, Burlingame residents Leslie McQuaide, Tamara Zerebinsky, Krista Zitnick and John McQuaide discuss the drill they led on Montero Avenue as part of Burlingame's Citywide Emergency Drill on Saturday, Oct. 13. More than 400 residents ...


OurQuadCities

Hot Glass teaches team-building through art
OurQuadCities
Hot Glass Inc. is a non-profit that serves at-risk youth and veterans with a unique, team-building experience in blown glass art. Father and son duo, Joel and Logan Ryser, own and operate the organization. They invited Living Local's Brittany Price ...


The Globe and Mail

The art of team building
The Globe and Mail
Leading a deal team to success “is art, not science,” says one in-house lawyer in Edmonton. “The hard part is the art involved with synthesizing all of that information into a decision, because there's never a clear answer.” External lawyers may give ...


OregonLive.com

Oregon high school football all-star team: Building a 53-man 'NFL roster'
OregonLive.com
One luxury we have in selecting our 53-man roster is that high school players often go both ways, giving us flexibility and depth that NFL teams typically don't enjoy. For them, special teams ability is the asset that might keep a tweener on a roster ...


Fast Company

Why you need to make your team uncomfortable from time to time
Fast Company
It's crucial to have a sense of community in the workplace, but if your staff becomes too comfortable socializing only in small groups, you lose the opportunity for cross-collaboration and overall team building that comes from chance meetings. In order ...

Google News

Employee and Coworkers Gifts

Giving gifts to your co-workers or your employees can be... Read More

Building Teams

Young minds are quite easy to shape. International Terrorist recruiters... Read More

Book Summary: The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player

A follow-up companion reader to The 17 Indisputable Laws of... Read More

Team Work

There's nothing that matches the power of teamwork to accomplish... Read More

Boost Your Success With An R&D Team

One of the best ways to ensure that your planning... Read More

Presenteeism - present in body absent in productivity

Presenteeism is alive and 'not well' in many businesses today.... Read More

What Do Trainers Do When They are Not Training?

In the new corporate environments where everyone wears more than... Read More

Teams

For companies to be competitive, decisions have to be made... Read More

Leading the Witness: How Asking Questions as a Trainer Can Limit Learning and Reduce Trust

"Asking questions can be a means of establishing authority, fulfilling... Read More

Top 7 Ways to Motivate Your Team

1. Involve them. Many employees want to be involved in... Read More

Whats Your REAL problem??

When was the last time you spent excessive time and... Read More

Whats the Secret Ingredient That Turns Groups into Teams?

What's the Secret Ingredient That Turns Groups into Teams? Working... Read More

Why Is Teamwork Training Important?

"When teamwork kicks in, nobody can beat you." Don Shula,... Read More

4 Tips for Keeping a Team Motivated

Companies often have incentives for reps, but sometimes that isn't... Read More

Why It Pays to Out More Humor in the Workplace

1. Humor reduces stress levels and stress is the number... Read More

Creating a Winning Staff Team

As a business owner, I've had staff come and go... Read More

Landscaping Business; Employee Relations

There are few industries or service type businesses, which are... Read More

Team Building Part 2: Honesty is the Key!

The second in a series of 2 articles giving a... Read More

Beyond Brainstorming ? Large Groups

When leaders, consultants and managers require ideas, they automatically tend... Read More

Motivate People with Feedback

Someone once said - "Feedback is the breakfast of champions."... Read More

Team Work

So much has been written on this subject; Team Work,... Read More

3 Steps To Successfully Build A Team In Any Program

Any x by y matrix plan has one big risk...... Read More

Dealing with People that Drive You Crazy!

We all know someone who just drives us batty. Perhaps... Read More

Collaboration Software - Building an Office Without Walls

The rise of the internet has given businesses a new... Read More

What College Taught Me About Teamwork Training

I declared a Communications Major two years into school, after... Read More