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Optimising Your Team

Don't get caught going down the wrong path with team bonding, before you've begun team building.

Hi, and welcome.

I’m excited to be back, and want to share thoughts and ideas which help lead you to success.

Recently I’ve begun mentoring on Leadership & Team Building, and am excited to share thoughts and ideas which can help lead you to success.

I’ll admit ‘team building’ has gotten a bad wrap, as some see it as complete waste of time.  I disagree, in the right setting, team building can be incredibly powerful.  The bad wrap, comes from the wrong idea of what team building is, leading to average short term results, confusion, and lack of engagement. I’ll address the difference in a moment.

Over the coming weeks I’m going to start a series on Team Building, and it’s many different layers – Common Purpose, Buy-In, Standards, Culture, and Leadership to name a few. Consistent with Stride’s purpose, I hope it provides value, lasting change and empower’s individuals and teams to achieve their ultimate success. I hope readers will find the content helpful in analysing where they are, and where they can potentially improve.  

So let’s dive into it.

I’m often told by clients, ‘My team isn’t functioning the way it should, there’s something missing’. When I delve a little deeper, the culprit will be a goal that has been passed on from a board, committee or upper management, and has left out the input of the team responsible for it’s implementation and execution. Because of that, team members see it as a ‘to do’ and put it on the back burner, rather than something they willingly embrace, actively pursue, work together and take ownership of.

So, let’s take a step back to basics, and determine what the meaning of team is. 

‘A team is a group of individuals all working together toward a common purpose.’ 

So why do so many find it difficult and over complicate it? Simple – They forget the first step – Seeking input from the individuals in the team to develop a common purpose. 

A quick snapshot of the purpose of Team Building is to – 

  • Seek input from the team, in a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment, free of judgement and hierarchy status. (This is best achieved from an independent facilitator)
  • Celebrate, understand and accept differences with honesty and humility
  • Create a common purpose, 
  • Empower individuals and team members to own and deliver the common purpose
  • Create trust and belonging
  • Mitigate conflict
  • Encourage communication to support the common purpose. 

Rather simple, but there’s quite a bit work involved to get there. Don’t be overwhelmed, this process provides the base of which all successful culture is built. 

I mentioned earlier, team building gets a bad wrap. As we approach December organisations plan ‘team building’ activities.  It’s often coincides to celebrate the festive season, and the success of the year.  If the year has been unsuccessful, and let’s be honest here, every team will have those, then it’s a time to relax, blow off steam, celebrate the festive season, and serve as a motivator to improve next year. 

There’s nothing wrong with getting team members out of the normal surrounds, however there is a difference between ‘team building’ and ‘team bonding’, and this is where teams and companies struggle to implement positive and lasting change in their teams.  Confusion between the two creates the bad wrap.

Don’t mistake Team Bonding for Team Building! The two are completely different.

So let’s take a brief look at the difference.

Team Bonding – Fun activities outside the work place that put team members with people they don’t normally liaise with to achieve a short term outcome (activities such as a game of cricket, a ‘Survivor Challenge’, a series of obstacle courses, with a few drinks etc.) free of rank and hierarchy structure. The outcome of team bonding is a few laughs, work is forgotten about, fun is had, and positive for participants. However it’s forgotten days after it’s finished, and people go back to old habits.

Team Building –  Activities that explore differences, in a warm and welcoming environment, free of hierarchy structure, where all members contribute to developing a common purpose representing their input, providing ownership, purpose and empowerment to their role and responsibilities.  Once established, it provides a sense of belonging and standards to represent each and every day. 

Can you see the difference?

If you’re wanting to ‘Team Build’ I encourage you to do it the right way, because it will provide a lasting culture of success to build from.

Thanks once gain for reading, I hope you’ve gained more insight into team building, and keep an eye out on for the next article in this series. Please feel free to comment below.

If you would like to engage with Stride, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Aaron Tenabel is the owner and founder of Stride Life CoachingAn ex professional swimmer and elite coach, Aaron now uses those experiences and skills to empower individuals and teams to reach their ultimate success.

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