Tips for Team Building

Tips for Team Building

Do you immediately picture your group off at a resort playing games or hanging from ropes when you think of team building? Traditionally, many organizations approached team building this way. Then, they wondered why that wonderful sense of teamwork, experienced at the retreat or seminar, failed to impact long term beliefs and actions back at work. Here are some tips for organizing effective team building session.

  • Form teams to solve real work issues and to improve real work processes. Provide training in systematic methods so the team expends its energy on the project, not on figuring out how to work together as a team to approach it.
  • Hold department meetings to review projects and progress, to obtain broad input, and to coordinate shared work processes. If team members are not getting along, examine the work processes they mutually own. The problem is not usually the personalities of the team members. It’s the fact that the team members often haven’t agreed on how they will deliver a product or a service or the steps required to get something done.
  • Build fun and shared occasions into the organization’s agenda. Hold pot luck lunches; take the team to a sporting event. Sponsor dinners at a local restaurant. Go hiking or to an amusement park. Hold a monthly company meeting. Sponsor sports teams and encourage cheering team fans.
  • Use ice breakers and teamwork exercises at meetings. I worked with an organization that held a weekly staff meeting. Participants took turns bringing a “fun” ice breaker to the meeting. These activities were limited to ten minutes, but they helped participants laugh together and get to know each other – a small investment in a big time sense of team.
  • Celebrate team successes publicly. Buy everyone the same t-shirt or hat. Put team member names in a drawing for company merchandise and gift certificates. You are limited in teamwork only by your imagination.

Take care of the hard issues above and do the types of teamwork activities listed here. You’ll be amazed at the progress you will make in creating a teamwork culture, a culture that enables individuals to contribute more than they ever thought possible – together.


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4 steps to improve employee performance

Step 1

Jot down the differences and similarities among the employees who report to you, and draft an action plan for acknowledging those differences as well as the similarities. Use this planning technique to identify goals for your employees, according to their skills, aptitude and capabilities. One of the traits of an outstanding leader is the ability to develop effective interpersonal communication skills that adapt to the varied work styles, culture and needs of employees. Management and leadership are two separate functions; however, to become a good manager, your leadership style needs to be one that acknowledges the strengths in the different personalities and skills within your work force. An effective manager works to adapt her style so it works for the entire work force, not just a select few employees. Attention to the needs of a diverse work force will encourage your employees to perform well.

Step 2

Exhibit behavior that your employees will emulate; modeling behavior is likely the best way to train employees in the nuances of professionalism in the workplace. When workplace professionalism becomes standard procedure, employee performance improves because your work force is proud of the manner in which they perform duties and interact with internal and external customers. Employees are most likely to exceed job expectations when they have a sense of pride in their work. In addition, praise employees for their efforts and for a job well done. Providing regular feedback to employees is another trait that true leaders and effective managers possess.

Step 3

Reward employees whose performance exceeds expectations and develop performance improvement plans for employees whose performance falls below expectations. Work together with your employees to construct plans that will enhance skill sets and prepare them for future roles within your organization. Investing the time and energy in developing your work force has significant returns. In addition to improving performance, this leadership activity demonstrates you have a vested interest in your employees. This can increase job satisfaction, which can, in turn, raise the level of job satisfaction among your work force.

Step 4

Communicate with your work force on a continual basis. Do not leave your work force uninformed about work policies, organizational change and, importantly, job expectations. Employees who feel they are valued tend to have better performance records and work remarkably well in a collegial and cohesive environment. Without leadership communication, employees will feel unimportant and devalued even if the lack of communication is unintentional. Share all necessary company information that can help employees understand their role in overall business objectives. This technique ensures a fluid exchange of ideas and opinions between a manager and his employees.

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Cultivating staff innovation

Employee innovation takes effort, as the concept of innovation can be intimidating to many employees. It’s important to recognize that innovation includes not just the breakthrough blue ocean opportunities, but that process improvements, new procedures or even a modest change to an existing form can help create better customer experiences or result in new value. Every employee within an organization is capable of innovation, and it’s the responsibility of business leaders to tap into the collective talents, ideas and experiences of their teams. In order to find new ways to engage employees in innovation, you need to understand the five characteristics of effective employee innovation:

1. Cultivate Conversation & Collaboration

To be successful, organizations need to foster dialogues.  For a true two-way dialogue to take hold, management must also engage in the conversation to provide feedback, offer encouragement and help shape idea fragments into actionable opportunities.

2. Tackle Today’s Business Challenges

To generate quick, visible results one should focus people’s attention on current business problems, unit objectives and market opportunities. Challenge employees to tackle specific questions. Problem solving allows employees to start from a common framework and build outward. Ideas and solutions generated from such an approach are more likely to be implemented because they deal with an organization’s most pressing business needs. When employees see that business units value their ideas on real problems, they will be more willing to engage in innovation going forward. Shared problem solving helps build a sense of community and collaboration. When employee-driven ideas match up well with established business priorities, existing business units may already have the staff and infrastructure in place to evaluate, build upon and execute these ideas.

3. Own the Problem — and the Process

Employee innovation cannot happen on its own. To foster a culture of innovation, companies must develop and manage a process to take ideas to action, with success contingent on the involvement of four constituents:

Executive Sponsors: Executive involvement sends a clear message that innovation is a priority for the organization. Those who sponsor idea challenges should be recognized as individuals who have a vested interest in the problem and the wherewithal to act on new ideas.

Management Enablers: A designated team of business leaders should be assigned to each challenge to manage and champion ideas. This group will engage in dialogue with the employee community and take responsibility for identifying which innovations to pursue. They may pose follow-up questions and help build out promising ideas.

Administrators: An employee innovation program will require metrics, reports, communications and support. Program administrators may oversee the process, maintain any necessary technologies or web sites and facilitate end-to-end management. Administrators often have job responsibilities outside of employee engagement or innovation, but some companies may dedicate resources to this particular function.

Employees: Ultimately, the success of any effort depends on the ability to engage employees. Companies can make it easier for everyone to participate by providing multiple ways to get involved. Some employees, for example, will want to create ideas. Others may choose to comment on ideas, add to ideas, or simply vote on which ideas offer the greatest potential. In addition to people, a well-defined process can help replicate and improve results over time. As a creative venture, however, administrators should allow different sponsors and enabling teams some degree of flexibility.

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