Working on a Dream




Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Team Building 101

The process of team building happens in 3 distinct stages:
1. Individuals Assemble
2. Individuals join together as a team
3. Team engages in the task at hand

Let's break down the above stages.

First step, have something that the group can rally around.  Have you ever noticed that there are millions of groups/organizations in the world?  Whether it is a sports team, the NRA, or the followers of this blog; groups all have something in common...they offer something that people feel passionate enough about to join. 

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here is what this first step looks like: 

Individuals are now assembled and ready to begin. During the team building process, the first step is the easiest to accomplish.  A common purpose has brought people together in the same room [or sitting on the same log] , BUT something more must happen for this group of individuals to become a team. 
----They must gel together. 
For team building to be successful, stages 2 & 3 have to be accomplished.

Stage two, the individuals must join together to become members of a team.
This requires agreement on shared goals and a process to achieve those goals. Trust me when I tell you that this stage is both the most difficult & the one you should spend the most time on.  The reasons are numerous.  It is at this stage that there will be the most conflict.  For instance, lets say that your team has gathered for the reason to figure out a difficult issue in the community.  You can bet the family dog that most everyone at the gathering will already have opinions, solutions, and who is going to do what, to whom and when.  With so many views expressed in a passionate way (remember, if the people didn't care, then they would not be attending in the first place) there will be conflict. 
People will be holding on to their values and ideas tighter than a cocktail dress.

With this in mind, the groundwork must be laid out and the best way that I know how to accomplish this is by establishing group norms.  Group norms are the key ideals that will guide your team as they seek to solve the problem. 

An example of a group norm would be as follows:
A.  We will practice respect towards one another.  This means when someone speaks, they have the floor for 1-2 minutes and everyone listens.

After this second stage has been thought through and everyone's blood has been spilled,  you are ready for stage 3...

Third, the team members must become engaged in the task at hand.
Stage three begins the thrill of finally taking on the task.  Nothing is more powerful than a group of people acting together in unison to accomplish something!  What once started out as a group of strangers, now becomes a mighty force to be dealt with.

The picture below tells the final story...

"Individually, we are one drop.
Together, we are an ocean."

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