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Monday, July 02, 2007

Only if You are Serious about Building your Team

This is of course not to say that other means of building teams are not serious or should not be taken seriously. I'm just trying to grab your attention, because I am serious about what I am going to share with you today.

Going to an offsite teambuilding workshop can be quite expensive these days. What with the current trend of sprucing teambuilding workshops up with adventure courses like Amazing race types of activities, ropes courses, paintball and a host of others that add thrill and sense of adventure to it. Some facilitators can go to real extremes to hype the excitement factor. Guilty as charged your honor, I've put as much exciting activities as I can muster in my programs to make it full of "fun learning." Do they work? of course they do, to a certain extent and depending on the company. Before you accuse me of trying to exonarate myself from some companies failure to achieve teambuilding success, let me explain... I believe that the real teambuilding happens after the teambuilding workshop. What the facilitators do is facilitate the teambuilding learning process. Give me two companies with the same teambuilding need and I will run identical programs and I will bet that if one of them do not have the commitment to follow through, only one of them will succeed. One of the companies will look for another teambuilding on the following year with the participants saying, here we go again!

But this article is not about pumped up, experiential learning loaded teambuilding. This is about what I would dare say a better approach to teambuilding. Its about a teambuilding intervention that does not require climbing trees or catching people fall (but of course that can be added upon request, I'm a real wimp!). It's about a teambuilding program that churns out concrete outputs that help teams in pursuing their goals.

Three years ago, I read a book by Patrick Lencioni entitled "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. It was introduced to us (the team I was with at the time) by my boss who want us to use it as a model for our team interaction. I was impressed by its practicality and simpleness (though making it happen is not as easy as it seems), I have been hooked and followed the development of the concept to this day. Because I saw it work in the team I was with, I was inspired to put together a program based on the five dysfunctions of a team as:
- Absence of Trust
- Fear of Conflict
- Lack of Commitment
- Avoidance of Accountability
- Inattention to Result

I decided to run a couple of batches before coming out in public with it. With my appreciation of Lencioni's concept, my own experience with my former team, and my experience in facilitating all sorts of teambuilding activities, I can say this one is well worth the money.

This program is perfect for management teams who are experiencing the dysfunctions. (and who aren't). It's ideal for small teams composed of 15 people or less although, with some tweaks here and there, it can be facilitated for bigger teams but I would advice against it.

Here's what I believe the program can help your team with:
  • Build trust - not just your typical definition of trust but the kind that make members of the team allow themselves to be vulnerable by being open about their weaknesses, problems and concerns. You ask why this is important, think about how posing to have no weakness can hurt team performance. Teams fail to identify problems because are not open about their own weaknesses. This also helps team member gain courage to seek help, talk about ideas, make suggestions without the stigma of being judged for being wrong.
  • It helps team members engage in productive confict in a passionate manner. This is important because failure to engage in meaningful exchange of ideas and opinions can lead to the other kind of conflict, the one we don't like - interpersonal conflict, which leads to groupthink and politics. Productive conflict on the other hand helps the team utilize its most important resource - its members.
  • Rally the team towards a common goal. It helps remove the silo mentality that is prevalent in many organizations. It also helps teams put together a rule of engagement that will make meetings and other team activities more productive and focused on goals.
  • Establish sense of accountability for each other's performance. One of the most problems of teams is its over reliance on the leader to call people's attention regarding poor performance or un-ideal behavior. A highly effective team empowers its members to call on each other about performance or behavior issues. Being accountable to this and knowing one's accountability not only to the leader but to the entire team can help the team push the envelope towards good performance.
  • focus attention on results - There are activities in the program that allow members to create scoreboards that will help them determine if they are on track or not in their pursuit of their goals. It is important to note that the absence of a scoreboard can confuse even the most experienced of players hence, this is a very important part of being a team, to know how well (or poorly) the team is performing in relation to its goals so that the team can adjust their strategy. Also by having a team-based scoreboard, team members are able to focus on the scores that matter. it would be quite funny to have a team member who celebrates as the team fails just because he bested his own record. In many companies, this scenario is quite familiar, I've heard it a number of times, people saying, "it's not my fault the team did not meet its objectives, I sure hit mine!"

There is only one important commitment necessary for a program like this to succeed and that is 100% commitment of the organizational leader to do whatever the program requires. If you want to know more about this program, please send me an email through or call me at 639205044521. Or you can buy the book. They also came out with a field guide if you feel that you like to facilitate it for your team yourself or facilitate it for your clients, the field guide can be a lot of help. They are available in your favorite bookstores. But if you need my help, well you know what to do.

'Till next time.

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