Many companies big and small, spend copious amounts of money on offsite team building endeavours that involve baking a potato in a jungle, learning an ancient dance form or some such thing. On some level, it makes sense- if we can teach people to do something together in an environment that is non-threatening to their authority, and using activities that they have no resistance towards, they should be able to learn valuable concepts and apply them back at work.
And yet, that is rarely the outcome. Why? Because people come pre-programmed, and particularly at a workplace, they feel more inclined to maintain the status quo than to try something new and potentially threatening to their professional lives. Hence, all of these lessons remain lessons alone and rarely translate into on-the-ground action
What Teamwork Should Look Like
When we think of successful companies, we often think about the individual. For example, we know Walt Disney built Disney, but do we know about the brother who played a key role? Or, we remember Neil Armstrong as the first man on the moon, but do we know something about the guy who stayed back in the space shuttle, operating it and preventing errors being his only job?
All of these individuals have seen success not just because they were independently capable, but also because they had a robust and effective team having their back.
In an organization that works as a team, the leadership has a clear vision which is communicated as goals and action items to the managerial teams, which in turn work with clusters of people to make each of these goals become a reality. The larger the organization, the more distinct these team roles need to be.
What does an agile, motivated team look like?
Tricia Naddaff, a leadership specialist, says that teams produce results that are much more than just the sum of their parts. A motivated team can achieve what seems impossible, even on a shoestring budget, and is driven to find solutions to problems.
Most importantly, every team member knows that the rest of the team has their back. Trevor Noah's Daily Show team is an example. For The Daily Show to succeed, there's nothing more important than being current and being witty, and they make it look so effortless on-screen. Well, you'd be pleased (surprised?) To know that they begin as early as 8 AM, in a room full of staff writers, throwing around material until they have a solid set. The reason this works, particularly with a creative team, is because the idea room is a safe space- no one is criticised, and no idea is dismissed until it is thought through.
Now, how many meetings at any workplace can we say that about?
Here are some attributes that we think set apart the good, effective teams from the underperforming ones:
• Setting the right expectations from the beginning
• Reviewing goals ever so often to spot those that may not be relevant anymore, and to maintain transparency in objectives
• Acute self-awareness and willingness to look at shortcomings, both as individuals and as teams
• A strong business story that everyone is willing to believe in
• Structure, and clear ideas about delegation and reporting
• A rewards system that takes the individual's aspirations into account
• Being able to look beyond differences to identify common, binding values
• Understanding the unique position of each business in the market, and adapting to the specific, assigned roles
What A Good Team-Building Exercise Can Achieve
It is important to note that no team-building exercise can be applied as a blanket activity to all teams, even within the same organization. For example, a sales team has a different purpose, and this needs a different approach to team-building, than would the operations team or the finance team.
So, always evaluate the missing links in each team before conducting a teamwork session for them.
"What got you here won't get you there" is such a common phrase now, it is almost cliched. But that doesn't change the fact that it is true.
Many individuals promoted into a managerial role for the first time find that they have execution skills, but not the ‘architect’ skills. From working on problems, their role now becomes defining these problems and inspiring people to find solutions. We strongly believe that every individual transitioning into the role of a manager should undergo a team-building workshop.
This helps highlight aspects such as the development of empathy, delegation, and review processes that can help teams function more effectively under their leadership.
The Story Of Project Aristotle
Google's Project Aristotle (yes, they're all about the fancy names) was an exhaustive, company-wide endeavour to understand what made good teams just work. They found that in every good team- there was a single common denominator- psychological safety. Members of such groups know that the team is their safe space and that they can express themselves fully in the team environment. Hard to achieve, but possible!
An excellent team-building workshop or teamwork exercise can help pave the way to build this level of trust among team members. Come to think of it, the people we call friends are those whom we trust with our secrets and personal stories, so if we could create a similar environment for professional security, it makes sense that that would work. Colleagues need to feel safe about sharing their ideas with the team- however unconventional they may seem at first.
Now you know why baking a potato doesn't have the same impact!
Choose The Right Team-Building Workshop
When choosing to engage your team in an activity of such profound ramifications, it helps to consider options and see which one is most likely to work for you. For some teams, an offsite event that is structured better is the answer. Others find that they need a longer intervention and sustained work to be able to become the team they're looking for.
At RainKraft, we specialize in providing solutions that are best suited to every organization's specific need. We understand that no two teams are alike, nor do they suffer from the same issues. Our team of highly experienced facilitators and trainers first understands your requirement and suggests a solution that is guaranteed to provide results.
Our sessions are activity-based because we find that such exercises help bring out hidden issues that do not always come through with just a question-and-answer format or a theory session. We have worked with teams big and small to help them achieve the levels of efficiency they're looking for, and to build a lifetime of trust among themselves.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more. We’d be happy to schedule a consultation with you.