I get a lot of questions about team building revolving around how to bring people together, help employees work well in groups or encourage people to get along. The focus always seems to be on a group of people rather than individuals. Over many years of helping people build dynamic, productive teams I've found that an excellent place to start is with the I. Nothing happens without I and here are five reasons why.
You Don't Believe Team Building Works
If you're not into team building then no amount of cajoling or persuading is going to convince you that team building can help you build a more positive workplace. You'll likely not participate fully or buy into team building activities or creating a workplace philosophy that encourages it.
You Believe that People are Solely Individual Achievers
This mindset creates motivated individuals who act alone as free agents rather than contributing to the well-being of the group. This includes instances of the "star salesman" or "go-to guy" who are enshrined because they do such a great individual job. What happens when we idolize individuals is that we create a culture where one person is more important than the other. Great teams are about people being equally valuable and important.
You Can't Yet See the Long-Term Benefits of Team Building
Perhaps you've never worked in an organization where people worked together and got more done with less effort. Maybe all you've seen is people backstabbing and competing with each other so you've surmised that it has to be that way. Team building is part of a long-term strategy that helps you and your employees build a workplace where people are able to problem-solve and support each other.
You Think Other People Build Teams, Not You
Team building is fine to get the rabble working together but you're above the fray. This leads in almost every instance to you not being part of the team. This perspective overlooks that you can actually benefit from actively participating and being part of a team.
You Try to Avoid Conflict
It's hard to navigate the challenges or conflicts that arise when people work together. Most people stay stuck "agreeing to disagree" instead of learning skills to actually work together and build strong teams. It's the act of working together to resolve conflicts that builds more effective workplaces.
The thread that runs through all these examples is that they all begin with you. You decide whether you create the conditions necessary to promote excellent team building in your workplace. You choose whether it's a priority or a band aid when you've already reached meltdown.
The key to successful team building is to practice and promote the skills that will help you and your people work well together. What will you do to make team building happen in your workplace?