A happy and productive team can deliver great success for a business, whilst a dysfunctional team often results in failing projects and poor company performance. The successful construction of a team is essential to avoid the common pitfalls which can cause a team to be ineffective.
Business team management expert Patrick Lencioni identified five dysfunctions which occurred in teams:
1) The absence of trust and openness among team members
2) Fear of conflict
3) Lack of commitment to a topic or plan
4) Unwillingness to hold teammates accountable
5) Inattention to results and lack of focus on the collective actions that must be taken
Many businesses overlook the essential phases in constructing a team. These teams commonly suffer from the dysfunctions above and often this is not even apparent to management. For instance, some team members may easily hide reservations they have about a company plan. It is incredibly difficult to assess the degree of openness between members as although close management will allow us to monitor the information shared between members, it is virtually impossible to know what they are not sharing.
In any case this level of monitoring simply isn’t cost effective. It is far better to ensure that team are well constructed in the first instance. Even if a team has been working together for years, the exercise of team building is equally effective in the reconstruction of teams and ironing out the dysfunctions which may result from team building being originally ignored. Team Building Activities are invaluable in achieving all four of these.
Bruce Tuckman identifies Four Phases of building a team
1) Forming – Getting to know team mates and building the trust which is essential for good individual relationships.
Fun activities outside the normal working environment provides excellent social time together and opens up team members to share personal information about themselves and other aspects of their personality which they might not during normal business communication. The encouragement of openness and development of personal relationships are essentials foundations for building trust. Treasure hunts are a highly entertaining and engaging group activity that will bring team mates personalities to the fore.
2) Storming – The stage at which teams address how they will function as a team, including issues of leadership. Confrontation may occur at this stage.
Team building activities outside the normal work place challenges can help smooth this process by providing low pressure, more light hearted challenges away from essential work place targets. Such activities require leadership and the division of activities between individuals. Outdoor activities, such as raft building is one such exercise where leadership and cooperation determines whether a team floats or sinks!
3) Norming – This is the agreement between teams regarding how work is divided and which team members are performing which role in the accomplishment of goals.
Team building activities are an opportunity for teams to discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses and also provide valuable practice for role assignment. Go Kart challenges for instance, which requires teams to buy parts for constructing and decorating their own go karts, gives team members the chance to showcase skills they may not have the opportunity to demonstrate in the office.
4) Performing – This is the stage during which a team is actually working on the project itself or outside project work, the everyday functioning of a team. During this stage team members will need to be actively helping and encouraging each other and holding each other accountable. It is very important for team members to be communicating and providing each other with feedback.
There are many different team building activities that require teams to work closely together and to help and encourage each other. Circus skills workshops are a great example with team mates needing to support and encourage each other in activities such as tightrope walking.