The Self-Awareness Guy

Team Building and Self-Awareness

Team Building: Expectations and Workplace Relationships

Team Building: Expectations and Workplace Relationships


The leaders and employees I train frequently talk to me about not feeling like they connect with certain people in the workplace.  It’s almost as if they expect the other person to behave a certain way or read their mind.  This is a very common experience in workplace relationships: One person expects a certain kind of interaction while the other seems oblivious.  This dynamic leads to a lot of frustrated people and poorly functioning teams.

The difficulty arises when people hold on to their expectations even when they see repeated evidence that they will never get what  they want.  They hang on to their hopes for a long time waiting for something to magically change.  Expectations can easily become an obstacle to building positive workplace relationships because they expect things to go a certain way rather than working with what’s in front of them.

No amount of hope can change the course of your work relationships and you can’t wish your way out of a negative situation.  The only way you can introduce positive energy into your relationships is by taking action and doing things that change the patterns you’ve established.

Changing the way you do things is the only way to affect your situation.  No amount of hope or expectations can take the place of applying effective behaviors such as excellent communication, team building or problem solving skills.  The great news is that you can do things to change the course of your work relationships, it just takes some courage and taking action to move in a different direction.

Cheers,

Guy

A Culture of Team Building

A Culture of Team Building

Genuine team building goes beyond the occasional bonding activity or retreat to establishing a culture that encourages and rewards collaboration and teaches everyone in your workplace how to build and participate in cohesive teams. Here are five ideas to keep in mind as you begin creating a culture of team building in your organization:

  1. Team building flows from the top. Leaders who practice self-awareness set a positive example of how to behave in the workplace. They show employees the organization is genuinely interested in building healthy teams by actively setting up and participating in an ongoing program.
  1. Team building is a company value. You get to choose what your organization values and what it doesn’t and whether people in the organization work against each other or collaborate. You decide what behaviors are acceptable and encouraged in your workplace.
  1. Train the trainer. Set aside the time and resources to train people at all levels of the organizations who then train their particular departments until all employees have the knowledge to practice effective team building.
  1. Schedule regular time for team building activities. You show your employees that team building is a priority by establishing a weekly stand-alone activity that doesn’t have to share space with other meetings and is attended by people at all levels.
  1. Team building is about celebrating your employees. Design team building activities where leaders and employees can connect on a deeper level, build meaningful relationships and praise each other in public.

As a leader, you decide what kind of work environment you create and whether you commit long-term to making it easier for your employees to come together and work collaboratively. What will you do to support a culture of team building in your organization?

Cheers,

Guy

10 Beliefs that Prevent Team Building

10 Beliefs that Prevent Team Building

A lot of leaders and organizations want to practice effective team building but there's a big chasm between wanting to do something and actually doing it.  I often hear people in workplaces saying things out loud that illustrate why they aren't building teams but they're not aware they're doing it.  People have beliefs hardwired inside them that they don't even realize get in the way of bringing employees together and encouraging them to collaborate.  Here are ten of the most prevalent beliefs.

  1. They'll never get along. If you believe people won't get along they'll prove you right almost every time.
  2. We're rugged individualists.  Individuals functioning in this way aren't as adept at working in teams as people who believe in collaboration.
  3. If you want it done right do it yourself.  If you're doing everything it leaves your team stranded and feeling like they can't do anything right.
  4. Teams must have a strong leader.  It's often the strong leader that gets in the way of everyone having a voice and participating actively.
  5. Collaboration was fine in kindergarten but this is the real world.  If you believe this then I know how you practice team building.
  6. Everybody has a specific job.  This keeps people firmly in their boxes and discourages creativity.
  7. Team building is secondary to productivity.  Many leaders overlook the idea that if you build a strong foundation of high-functionong teams you become more productive.
  8. Team building is too touchy-feely.  Leaders who believe this create workplaces that only allow three feelings: forced happiness, fear and anger.
  9. I don't have to participate.  Nothing says you lack commitment to team building than not participating in it with your employees.
  10. I don't have time for team building.  This is like saying you don't have time to build a roof over your building because you've got to get to work and then it rains and soaks everything.

Enlightened leaders understand that team building is a vital building block to creating workplaces where people interact positively and help each other get things done.  The way you actually build teams is to take action in small increments and do it over time.  You might offer ongoing team building training or provide opportunities for people to work together to solve problems.  Some organizations form mastermind groups that tackle thorny issues.  The idea is to gradually build a workplace where working collaboratively is encouraged.  What will you do to create a culture of team building in your organization?

Cheers,

Guy 

Five Tips to Discourage Team Building

Five Tips to Discourage Team Building

A lot of leaders and organizations talk about improving team building or how important it is for everyone to work together and then create workplaces where people are discouraged from collaborating or helping one another. It takes self-awareness and commitment to design a workplace where team building is practiced and celebrated. Here are five ways that team building is routinely discouraged in the workplace:

  1. Creating a competitive work environment. People are encouraged to compete on their own behalf instead of as a team. This creates a workplace where people look out for their own interests before thinking about working with others.
  2. Lack of effective communication. People only communicate on a superficial level and only about approved topics. Very little attention is paid to listening to what others say and creating two-way sharing of information.
  3. Missing emotional depth. People aren't encouraged to understand and welcome emotions in the workplace and how they can bring people together. Displays of emotion are limited to one or two officially sanctioned ones such as fake happiness and anger.
  4. The boss' ego. The boss can't let go long enough to let people work collaboratively because it would take away from his (or her) vision of how things should be done. The organization runs according to his personal needs and issues rather than with everyone in mind.
  5. Lack of commitment. Leaders and organizations invest in one team building session per year instead of an ongoing program that teaches people practical skills.

In many organizations, team building is an abstract concept that people talk about or pretend is happening. You can move from wishing it would happen to making it a reality by implementing a program that teaches people skills on an ongoing basis. The idea is to create a workplace environment where people are actively being trained in how to work each other and given opportunities to practice the new skills they're learning. What will you do to encourage team building in your organization?

Cheers,

Guy

Team Building Means the Spotlight Isn’t on You

Team Building Means the Spotlight Isn’t on You

I design and facilitate many team building workshops and it's fascinating to watch how people relate to each other.  I'll often observe everyone participating actively but deferring to the leader or looking to him (or her) for permission to participate.  The other dynamic that frequently occurs is that everyone acts very outwardly happy and bubbly but, when we probe deeper, all kinds of rifts and conflicts are exposed that reflect the kind of workplace leadership has created.

When I see these types of interactions it tells me a lot about how workplaces are run and what kind of work environments they create.  Leaders have a dramatic effect on how team building is practiced in their workplaces.  Here are two different approaches.

The Autocratic Workplace

Everything goes through the leader and everyone is required or expected to check in with the leader before anything happens.  People are tentative and dependent because they're not encouraged to work on their own or make independent decisions.  The leader in these organizations often believes there are functioning teams but, in practice, the teams only operate based on his or her directives and limits.  Team building in this type of workplace is usually not very active because people aren't encouraged to work together and decisions are made through one central person rather than a group.  The spotlight is firmly on the leader in this type of organization.

The Collaborative Workplace

There isn't one central focus or source of information in this type of workplace because people are given the opportunity to share their wisdom and expertise.  Employees are encouraged to work collaboratively and share information with each other and the organization.  Leadership is available as a resource if people get stuck or actively participates as an equal partner in teams if invited.  Team building in this type of workplace is consistently positive because people are encouraged to work together.  The spotlight is on every member of the team because they all are welcome to share their insights and each person is valued as a contributor.

As a leader, you decide what kind of workplace you create.  If you value team building and help your employees collaborate you'll enjoy the additional brainpower, idea generation, improved interpersonal relationships and morale that comes from people working together well.  If you promote an autocratic workplace you'll create a different type of environment.  Both approaches can create productive, successful organizations but only one gives employees power and helps them feel like an important and valued member of a team.  Which will you choose?

Cheers,

Guy