Team building is for new teams and healthy teams. If you’ve got a Toxic Team, it will just make things worse!
I’ve often been called into a truly toxic team only to hear that their attempt to fix issues of competence, trust, or decision-making consisted of a two-day offsite where they went zip-lining or built something out of popsicle sticks.
If you have a new team and you’re trying to get to know one another and create some shared experiences—go for it. If you’re a great team and everyone respects and likes one another and you just need to let off some steam—knock yourselves out. If you’re a team with serious issues, spend your time and money on team effectiveness, not team building.
What do I mean by team effectiveness?
- You start with the purpose of your team. All efforts to improve your team should start with why the team exists and what you need to achieve. If you’re only working on the dynamic, you’re doing team building.
- You establish a shared set of guidelines that you will hold one another accountable for following.
- You use tools and discussion to gain a better understanding of the people on the team, and not just on a superficial level. Naive approaches that don’t take into consideration the fundamental characteristics of the team members will not create breakthroughs. You might see change, but it won’t be sustainable.
- You address difficult issues in a deliberate and direct way. That might mean talking about how to make your meetings better, or how to handle conflict better. If you’re only getting at issues metaphorically, you’re not actually dealing with them—that’s just team building.
- The facilitator doesn’t leave until you have set up some mechanisms to sustain the behavior change. If your drum concerto ends and the facilitator gives you each a maraca and a slap on the back and wishes you well—that’s team building.
I look forward to sharing more of the Knightsbridge Team Effectiveness approach with you over the coming posts.