Category Archives: Teams

Why is it so hard to get lasting results from team-building activities?

Often when we think a team isn’t as productive as it could be, our first reaction is to spend some money on team-building exercises, often off-site. In my experience, your typical team-buildling challenge or social activity is great for getting out of the office and having some fun together…

What they’re not great for is creating lasting change and this is why:

  • Team building has to happen every day – in the reality of your work environment.
  • Team ‘issues’ are rarely about the team. To resolve them, you have to consider the individuals.
  • Generic team activities are unlikely to address the specific needs of your team.
  • Creating behavioural change requires insight, understanding and time.

 

What will work?

If you’re looking for a way to get your team to work more productively together, look for solutions that:

  • Start with an analysis of your team members’ perceptions of the team;
  • Are based on the realities of your workplace; and
  • Provide suggestions you can implement now for immediate – and lasting – impact.

 

What do you think?

Do you have ideas for effective and lasting team-building?  Please share your insights by adding a comment below.

When does a ‘group’ become a ‘team’?

This question came to mind last weekend, when I had the good fortune to attend ‘Wintersong 2010’ an annual choral workshop held in the Blue Mountains. The weekend revolved around learning and performing diverse works arranged for choir – with 90 other singers from all over the country.  

Composer and musician, Paul Jarman led us in an amazing workshop.  In around an hour, we composed and performed a choral work in 7 parts.  My first response when this was suggested was ‘this will never work’.  To my amazement, it worked brilliantly!

I think we were working as a team at that point.  (And arguably for the rest of the weekend, in producing some incredible sounds.)  

For this project we were a team and not just a group because we had:

1.  A leader who was very skilled and experienced;

2.  An intention to create something of quality;

3.  Goodwill and a desire to cooperate;

4.  Diverse ideas and abilities; and

5.  A specific goal, with a defined timeframe.

What do you think?

Do these things make a team?  Or am I getting carried away with the analogy?

Please post your comments below.

Have you booked in for our webinar ‘How to Make Your Good Team Great’ on 7 July at 12 noon AEST?  Click to register.

Team lessons from the last week in politics

In Australia, we have had a recent change of Prime Minister.  Since then, I’ve been reflecting on what we can learn from these events in terms of having effective teams. 

1. People want to be included in decisions that will affect them.  The mining industry is just one example.  The new PM, Julia Gillard, has recognised this, saying “I seek to work inclusively. I seek to bounce ideas around. I seek to get peoples’ views.”

2. It’s important to have a strong leader but risky to invest too heavily in believing their success will be the same as the team’s success.

3. Individual communication skills, behavioural traits and personal style are always going to be important for the collective success of the team because they will influence outsiders’ perception of the team.

4. When it’s time to make a change, acting quickly and decisively will allow you to get on with the task at hand without the distraction of uncertainty and rumours.

Perhaps you have some examples of your own?  Please share your insights by adding a comment below.

Could your team use a tune-up?

My car currently has a small niggling problem that’s not serious, but I know I should do something about it.  Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience, with a car, computer or other technology?

Have you ever had the same sort of nagging thoughts about your team at work?  Things are running smoothly, but you know they could probably be even better if you took the time to look under the bonnet and do some team maintenance.

You could be avoiding taking any action for one of the following reasons:

  • Time  “Sure, we’d like to do something, but we are always so busy.”
  • Uncertainty  “I really don’t know where to start.”
  • Fear “We are doing pretty well.  I don’t want to risk opening a can of worms.”
  • Scepticism  “We tried team building activities before.  It was fun but it didn’t really transfer back to the workplace.”

Sound familiar?  So why should you take time out to work on your team?

Teams that have been selected, trained and coached according to the strengths of the individual team members will always out-perform any teams composed and managed simply along functional lines. 

Teams outshine their competition when they –

  • Have shared goals and a focus on outcomes
  • Value cohesion, communication and collaboration
  • Recognise and share work according to their indiviual strengths

Any team building activity that contributes to better teamwork will focus on how these high performance team characteristics are applied in the workplace.  For example, read the case study of one team development process.

TIP:  Know how to get the best performance from your team with practical and meaningful team development.  Register for our webinar on 7 July at 12 noon (AEST).

Case Study: Team Tuning

Many businesses are blessed with highly motivated and engaged staff who are industriously working toward their strategic goals.  Working as a team comes naturally to these employees and they are keen to find ways to work better together.  I was fortunate enough to work with one such team recently to fine-tune their team performance.

Process

All five members of the team completed the online assessment of their behavioural and work preferences.  On the day before the team coaching session, they received their individual Harrison Assessments reports.

A team paradox report, displaying all team members’ scores for each trait on one graph formed the basis of our team meeting.  Because we had only two hours for discussion, the agenda focused attention on four facets of the team report:  Motivation, Communication, Innovation and Organisation.

For each of these areas, we analysed and discussed the relative strengths of the team members to determine what was important to the team, how the strengths have helped them to date and what difficulties were present now.

Brainstorming of actions that would help the team capitalise on individual strengths and achieve the organisation’s goals resulted in a list of individual SMART actions. (SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-framed.)

Results

Several factors that could be used to bring the team to peak performance were uncovered via assessment and the team discussion.  Here are a few examples:

  • One team member is highly organised and this strength will be put to good use in developing systems and processes in the business.
  • There is a team member who is not always comfortable putting forward their opinions or giving feedback.  Once the rest of the team were aware of this, they were able to explore ways to make it easier for that person to communicate with them in productive ways.
  • Some team members require more structure to their work, while others find structure frustrating.  Awareness of individual needs made it easy for others to suggest ways to accommodate those needs.

Benefits

On completion of the team meeting, the team had:

  • A better understanding of each others’ strengths, values and needs,
  • New, more effective, ways to work together,
  • Individual and collective accountability, with each member of the team responsible for specific actions that would make the team more effective and
  • Renewed commitment to their common goals.

Could this work help your team? Call us on 1300 785 150.

 

What do you want?

Last week, our single question survey asked readers “What is the one people management issue that is causing you the most pain right now?”

The response was fantastic!  Thanks for all your contributions.

Didn’t see it?  It’s not too late to give us your answer and have it added to our list of topics for future webinars and articles. 

The first webinar is scheduled for 12 noon on Wednesday, 7 July 2010.  Topic and registration details will be posted in the next couple of weeks.

Here is a summary of the suggestions so far:

Team

  • establishing teamwork – working together on to meet organisational goals
  • culture
  • understanding what each person does and how roles work together

Motivation

  • rewards –  ideas on non-monetary rewards
  • getting staff to work in new ways in an industry that has been more reactive than proactive in the past

Delegation

  • effectively communicating what needs to be done
  • having tasks completed to your requirements
  • ensuring staff are productive when you’re not there

Training

  • developing teams to meet future needs
  • helping staff indentify skill gaps
  • making time for training

Recruitment

  • attracting the people with the right attitude
  • matching the right people to the role
  • having the right people in the right seats

Performance

  • meaningful annual reviews
  • addressing weaknesses without causing offence
  • managing underperformance

Why not take a minute to add your own or support one of these suggestions?

Click here to have your say or leave a comment below.

 

"The last couple of years at batyr has seen incredible growth and the Balance at Work team has supported us along the way. They have helped us improve leadership skills across the team by helping us source and manage mentors, and even engaging as mentors themselves. As a young and fresh CEO Susan has also supported me personally with genuine feedback and fearless advice to achieve great things. "
By Sam Refshauge, CEO, batyr
"We used the Harrison Assessment tools followed by a debrief with Susan, for career development with staff, which then allowed us to work with Susan to create a customised 360 degree review process. Susan has a wealth of knowledge and is able to offer suggestions and solutions for our company. She is always ready to get involved and takes the time to show her clients the capability of Harrison Assessments. "
By Jessica Hill, Head of People and Culture, Choice
"Balance at Work are the ideal external partners for us as they completely get what we are trying achieve in the People and Culture space. Their flexibility and responsiveness to our needs has seen the entire 360 approach being a complete success. The online tool and the follow up coaching sessions have been game changers for our business. The buzz in the organisation is outstanding. Love it! Thanks again for being such a great support crew on this key project."
By Chris Bulmer, National GM Learning and Development, ISS Australia
"We use Harrison Assessments with our clients to support their recruitment processes. We especially value the comprehensive customisable features that allow us to ensure the best possible fit within a company, team and position. Balance at Work is always one phone call away. We appreciate their valuable input and their coaching solutions have also given great support to our clients."
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By Shaun Stanfield, Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet

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