The Self-Awareness Guy

Team Building and Self-Awareness

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

The Difference Between Team Building and Team Bonding

The Difference Between Team Building and Team Bonding

I facilitate many team building workshops and the participants sometimes get confused when they realize they aren't going to be climbing a tree or catching each other as they fall backward. It's a natural reaction because a lot of what is presented as team building might actually be team bonding. Here's the difference:

Team Building

  • Focuses on behaviors and their effect on workplace functioning.
  • Helps people learn how to work with each other and get along well.
  • Builds skills like communication, planning, problem-solving and conflict resolution.
  • Builds empathy and compassion.
  • Encourages long-term behavior change.
  • Helps people build genuine connections.
  • Is practiced over time.
  • Encourages deeper discussion and processing.

Team Bonding

  • Focus on fun activities.
  • Brings people together by encouraging collaboration and teamwork.
  • Helps people see each other in a different light.
  • Allows people to connect in a different setting.
  • Usually a one-time activity.
  • Helps people get out of the workplace and relax.
  • Encourages people to have fun together.
  • Sometimes asks people to think about the implications of the activities on their workplace.

Both approaches are valid and have their strengths. The major difference is that team building is a long-term process that creates behavioral change while team bonding tends to be a short-term, fun experience. If you're looking for a quick pick-me-up then team bonding is your thing. If you're looking at foundation building and long-term change then team building will help you get there.

As a leader, you get to choose what kind of workplace you create. I've found that highly successful (and happy) organizations commit to a long-term team building approach that helps people think and behave in ways that benefit them and their work environment. Learning effective team building takes time and effort but it creates lasting success and a company culture that encourages positive behaviors. What will you do to practice effective team building in your organization?

Take care

Guy

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

10 Practical Team Building Tips

10 Practical Team Building Tips

Many leaders and organizations try to implement team building in one or two sessions only to find that their employees quickly revert to old behaviors. It takes time and commitment for team building to take root and grow in any organization. It's nearly impossible to move away from the behaviors you've built up over time and replace them with new, more effective ones without sustained effort. Here are ten practical tips to help you get the most out of your team building program.

  1. Make sure leadership is fully involved and sets a positive tone.
  2. Team building is offered to employees at every level.
  3. A one-hour time block per week is set aside for team building activities.
  4. Refrain from changing the team building schedule or combining it with other meetings.
  5. No interruptions during sessions, including people using phones, texting or being called out of the activities.
  6. Leave egos and agendas at the door, everyone is treated equally.
  7. Use an experienced, positive and neutral facilitator for activities.
  8. Focus on activities that build deeper interactions and relationships.
  9. Practice new behaviors over time.
  10. Evaluate how you’re doing after six months and make adjustments if necessary.

The key to successful team building is to participate in activities that bring people together on a deeper level and help them acquire skills to keep moving forward. Practice team building over time so that everyone gets used to doing it. Once people are comfortable with your new approach, it becomes second nature and your workplace shifts to one where collaboration and shared purpose are the norm. How will you promote long-term team building in your organization?

Cheers,

Guy

Team Building: Build Better Workplace Relationships

Team Building: Build Better Workplace Relationships

You can’t build great teams if you don’t know how to build successful relationships.  Even some of the most well-intentioned leaders who really care for their employees have difficulty building great workplace relationships because they don’t have the tools.

I’m a big supporter of clarity in workplace relationships.  Clarity is when everyone involved understands what’s going on in the relationship.  It does away with assumptions, secrets, guesses, misunderstandings and frustration because each person is on the same page.

How do you increase clarity?  You gather more information.  The next time you encounter conflict in any workplace relationship practice the following ideas to really understand what’s going on:

1. Each person talks without interruptions about how they see the situation.

2. Each person listens carefully without judging, rebutting or giving advice.

3. Each person asks open-ended questions to clarify what is going on.

4. The people work together and develop a plan to proceed.

Dialogue is very important to achieving clarity.  Make sure to practice listening skills and ask questions that allow people to share their perspectives in a safe environment.  Open ended questions are questions that don’t lead to a yes or no answer and allow each person to meaningfully explain their point of view.

This is a style of interaction that doesn’t require confrontation; it focuses on people listening to each other and sharing their points of view.  Try it sometime to gain clarity on what’s going on in your workplace relationships.

Cheers,

Guy