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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Team Building in the Philippines: You Can't Have Teamwork If You Can't Manage the Change

In my opinion, the reason why many efforts to build teamwork go to waste is because managers fail to manage the change. I often get inquiry about team building and when I inquire back about how far they want to go with it, I get silence.

Many managers are convinced that they need to improve teamwork but are unwilling to do the necessary work to have it. They think (or wish) that a one or two-day off site will create some magic that will suddenly turn the backbiting off. That it will suddenly make people more committed to the goals and do their fair share in improving organizational performance. Sadly, this rarely happens or if it does, the improvement is short lived.

No wonder some people are skeptical about it and have lost hope that a team building intervention will help a team work better. I know at least one person who declare that team building is for suckers. I can't blame all those who think the kind of solutions that proliferate out there are not real solutions. I'm of the opinion that a lot of the things people learn from a decent team building workshop are valid. The problem lies in how the whole thing is set up and how follow-through is given.

Building Teamwork is pretty much about managing change. Let's listen to what Change Management Guru John Kotter has to say:He said first "Create urgency". This to me means make a case for the change. Do you need it? Or do you need an excuse to go on a company outing? Be sure that you need it and are willing to go towards great lengths to achieve it.

Kotter then said, "Form a powerful coalition". This means that the journey from no-teamwork to with-great-teamwork is bought into by the leadership of the organization and are committed to championing the change. Since we are talking about building teamwork here, they should also be committed to modeling the way by showing teamwork among themselves.

The third step is "create a vision for change". This is important. We don't have a common understanding of what it is like to have teamwork. For some it's unbridled collaboration and empowerment, for others it's allowing the boss to herd the rest of the team like cows. So what do you really want to see into the future when the team succeeds and becomes a high performing team? This has to be expressed in vivid terms.

Next, "communicate the vision. This can be part of the preparation for an off site activity or can be done in the early part of the event. I prefer the former. I think everybody should be clear about why they are camping out. I tell you I've had more than enough of participants mistaking the offsite activity for company outing and the team building activities mere parlor games! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! ( Sorry, got carried away there)

The fifth action is to "remove obstacles". This is why people go out for a two-day off site team building. This is so they can identify what get's in the way of teamwork and decide how to overcome them. Patrick Lencioni identified five dysfunctions that get in the way of teamwork and prescribed some ways to overcome them. I use his prescription in my workshops.

You can't go home from a team building event without doing Kotter's 6th step and that is "create short-term wins". You need to identify the things you can do right after the workshop that will pave the way for building a stronger, more cohesive team. These quick-win activities should be clear, specific, actionable and observable.

This will be the subject of step seven, "Build on the Change" Which is following through on the norms set in the workshop and see to it that they all happen. Managers should not let up until all the agreed changes in behavior become habits and that quick wins are pursued and achieved.

The last stage is "anchor the change in the corporate culture". Let it grow roots. Build your policies around strengthening and rewarding teamwork and discouraging, even prohibiting the absence of it.

See? You build your team building effort around John Kotter's 8-step model and I tell you, there's hardly any reason for it to fail.

Here's one more thing. I'll be more than happy to help you use this model to facilitate an organizational culture change for your company if you let me. Forget the one-day or half-day sessions that lead practically to nowhere.

If you want teamwork, manage the change.

Related download: ExeQserve Team Culture Building Program

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