The Self-Awareness Guy

team building

5 Team Building Tips for Proactive Leaders

5 Team Building Tips for Proactive Leaders


Many leaders ask me whether there is any easy way to build stronger teams in their organizations. I’ve found it helpful to go beyond the occasional activity or retreat and create a culture of team building in their nonprofit. Creating a culture of team building means that we establish an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to collaborate instead of working against each other. The goal is to build a workplace where people get more done and enjoy helping each other and the company succeed.

Our organizations are more productive and experience better morale when we build highly cohesive teams but many of us don’t take advantage of this valuable opportunity. Team building takes conscious and ongoing attention from leadership so that it can take root in the organization. Let’s look at five key ideas to help you create a workplace that values team building.

1. Team building starts with the company leaders. In order to build strong teams we need to have buy-in from the top down. While it’s possible for individual departments or groups to do some activities on their own, it’s always more effective when leaders are actively and enthusiastically involved. After all, they’re a major part of the team. When leaders participate actively it sends a positive message of unity and shared purpose and employees see that we mean it about team building.

2. Create a dynamic culture of team building. Every organization has a culture that it creates based on its core values. It’s up to you to design the type of culture you want, in this case one of team building. You create this type of environment by giving people the opportunity to work together effectively and providing your support along the way. This may require shifting from a competitive or compartmentalized culture to one that encourages collaboration. As the leader, you set a positive example by showing people how to work together.

3. Team building takes long-term commitment. You can’t build cohesive teams if you only provide a one-hour training every five years and then expect people to fend for themselves. Team building is an ongoing learning process where people continually practice the skills related to collaborating and working together. At first it may feel strange or out of your comfort zone but, over time, your team building efforts will become the new way of doing things. Leaders play a big part because they decide and demonstrate through their actions whether team building is really a priority or a token gesture.

4. Team building activities require dedicated time. Identify a team building activity (there are many ideas online) that makes sense to you and practice it weekly. People often ask me how to find the time to do team building and the answer is that you either dedicate the time or you don’t. You decide whether team building is a priority and how you will fit it in to your work schedule. I recommend a weekly stand-alone activity that doesn’t have to share space and energy with other meetings. The idea is to give these activities importance and conduct them with no interruptions.

5. Celebrate your employees. We all get so busy that we forget that creating teams is really about honoring people and highlighting their amazing talents and abilities. Team building isn’t about pain, it’s about helping people work well together. When your employees are encouraged to collaborate positively they tend to perform better and do so with fewer problems. Leaders have a profound effect on the productivity and morale of their employees when they praise them and help them build effective teams.

Team building can help organizations get more done with less effort and create happier workplaces. Use the five elements we’ve discussed here and you’ll develop a culture of team building that helps your leaders lead better and your employees be more productive.

Cheers,
Guy


Team Building and Autocratic Leadership

Team Building and Autocratic Leadership


I was reading a discussion on a business site about team building recently.  Two vocal contributors talked about how team building was only a fluffy, superfluous activity that could only lead to coddled, lazy employees.  What was needed, they contended, was discipline and a strict adherence to rules and directives.  They added that employees were there only to carry out the leader’s vision and not to have a good time.

I said to myself, “Where do I sign up?  Sounds like a great place to work.”

Many leaders still function under the paradigm that the only thing that matters in business is to drive people until they break.  They genuinely believe that organizations are solely about their leaders and the rest of the employees are just there to carry out their vision.  Everything is wrapped around one charismatic disciplinarian who leads his flock bravely off the cliff into glory.

This style would be much more effective if people had no minds, no dreams, no independence, no skills and no need to grow or be fulfilled in any way in the workplace.  In the real world, there are very few people willing to have someone boss them around mercilessly all day.  So what’s a budding autocrat to do?  I might look at relaxing a bit and letting people be who they are.  I don’t say this to make leadership more difficult, I offer it as a way to create workplaces that run better because people feel better about themselves and the organization.

Feeling good is a difficult concept for leaders bred on discipline and order.  Many equate feeling good with being weak but I tend to think that it’s about people performing well while feeling like they’re important individually and collectively.  There’s a big difference between doing work because you have no other choice or because you want to intrinsically.  When leaders motivate their employees from within they can count on them using their natural talents and abilities to greater advantage.  The trick is finding a way to encourage people to succeed based on their own inner motivators rather than those imposed from someone on the outside.

Team building requires the ability not only to have people produce but also to move beyond simply requiring people to perform tasks in some predetermined way toward a single goal.  It’s about providing choices and opportunities and recognizing that people are able to think for themselves if given the chance.  It’s easy to boss people around but much harder to have them direct themselves.  How will you practice excellent team building?

Cheers,

Guy

Team Building: Healing Your Workplace

Team Building: Healing Your Workplace

Team building and healing are strongly linked in the workplace because teams can’t function well if everyone is walking around carrying personal grudges and hurts.  It often falls on the team leader to help everyone function effectively but it’s nearly impossible if he or she is carrying around a lot of negative energy.

There are many negative workplace experiences that affected people negatively.  Individuals sometimes hold on to these feelings for a long time even when they realize intellectually that they would be better off letting them go.  I train leaders and employees about how they can end this cycle of negative feelings and thoughts and build stronger teams and it almost always begins with healing.

Healing your workplace is one of the most important concepts for you and your employees’ well being and it begins with healing yourself.  If you think about it, you deal with people very differently when you are healthy rather than hurt.  If you want to create a work environment that is free of hurts from the past, then think about the following questions.

1.  What do I need to heal?

This question will help you define what it is that you need to look at.  There is no right or wrong answer, you get to decide what part of you or your workplace is hurt and then you get to heal it.  No issue is to small or trivial, if you need to heal it it is a valid starting point.  You can have several issues but try to pick one to start on.

2.  How will I heal myself?

There are many avenues you can take to heal yourself and they almost always involve getting help from an outside person who can help you get a clear perspective.  You benefit from realizing that you need help and then reaching out to someone who can partner with you to make it happen.  There is no right or wrong approach to healing, look for an approach that works for you.  Some people talk to a friend, others a therapist and others HR.

3.  How will I know that I am healed?

The goal of healing is to come to terms and feel at peace with the issues you face.  You will know you are healed when an issue no longer stirs negative feelings inside you.  You will also see improvements in your day to day work life because that issue won’t be affecting you in the same way.  Healing can take time so be patient and keep working on taking care of yourself.  Take it easy on yourself and only work on healing one thing at a time.  Once you feel better about one thing then you are then ready to move on to the next issue.

Do some careful thinking about these three questions and you will begin the process of discovering what hurts and how to heal it.  The idea is not to reopen terrible wounds and relive those moments, it’s to acknowledge that you have an issue and work on it.  Once you heal yourself you’ll be in a great position to help your team do the same.  The result is a workplace where people aren’t working out their personal stuff on each other.  How will you start healing your workplace?

Cheers,

Guy

7 Benefits of Deeper Team Building

7 Benefits of Deeper Team Building

A lot of team building programs help people bond on a casual, superficial level. That's great for situations where you want people to have a good time for a few hours but I prefer team building that encourages people to connect on a deeper level by building self-awareness and learning how their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors affect them and those around them. Here are seven benefits of deeper team building:

  • Interacting meaningfully, building stronger interpersonal relationships.
  • Increasing mutual respect and understanding, learning about others.
  • Allowing space and time for everyone to express his or her point of view.
  • Dealing well with emotions, building emotionally intelligent employees and leaders.
  • Developing active listening skills.
  • Behaving with kindness, empathy, and compassion.
  • Being able to achieve more in less time.

Imagine your workplace functioning based on these concepts. It probably seems strange because it's so different from the toxic environments we're used to. Thankfully, you can design any workplace you want, including one where people genuinely behave as a team.

The way I reach these goals is to teach groups of people (especially leaders) how to communicate on a deeper level and build relationships based on kind, attentive listening, and empathy. How do you promote deeper team building in your workplace?

Cheers,

Guy

Team Building: 7 Tips for Success

Team Building: 7 Tips for Success

Team building is a dynamic process that yields many rewards once you get it going.  Savvy leaders use team building to help their employees interact positively and get more done.  Here are some practical ideas to help you get a team building program started in your workplace.

1. Set up a weekly, ongoing team building meeting.   This shows everyone you are committed to the program.

2. Facilitate activities that help people build relationships and talk with each other on a deeper level.  When people learn how to interact more meaningfully they find more ways to collaborate and help each other.

3. Focus on behaviors; what people actually do to function effectively within the team.  The goal here is to replace old, dysfunctional behaviors with new ones that work better.

4. Set up a calm, friendly atmosphere with no interruptions.  Dedicate all your energy to the activities and limit the noise that gets in the way of positive team building activities.

5. Everyone, especially leadership is involved.  It’s highly desirable if team building is learned first by the leaders and then by other departments so that everyone is invested in the process.

6. Stay away from competitive activities where someone “wins.”  You’re trying to create teams of people who are trying to work well with each other, not against each other.

7. Have fun and keep practicing over time.  Team building doesn’t work unless you implement it long-term to shift the current behaviors.

The key to effective team building is to set up a work environment where people feel comfortable and trust each other. There are no set rules you have to follow, just remember that you’re trying to help people connect in ways that are meaningful to them and create deeper relationships. How will you get started?

Cheers,

Guy