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Monday, April 09, 2012

Sustaining Teamwork

In my mind's eye, the picture above depicts all the necessary elements to sustained teamwork.

It all starts with an effort to build trust. There are three causal elements necessary to make this happen; a willingness to trust, having the right communication mindset and using dialogues to clarify expectations and solidify norms. All these three elements simultaneously build trust and lead to the development of the other fundamental elements in the team building process. This causal loop rarely happens spontaneously. If you want to have it, you have to be deliberate about it. In fact, I believe that team builders must focus on this first if they want to build a strong team. Half of my two-day team building workshop is spent jumpstarting this process with the goal of giving the participants confidence to continue when they go back to the workplace.

My recent attendance to a training program opened my eyes to the idea of using the term dialogue instead of debate or argument as a label for team communication. This to me is an important paradigm shift and I am humbled by the fact that I've openly embraced productive conflict to thresh out solutions to team problems when a more collaborative, less combative and more generative language can encourage the right mindset in team communication. I have recently turned a new leaf and have introduced this in my team building workshops. I promise to write a separate article to highlight the impact of this awakening soon.

Dialogues are important, because they encourage inquiry, generation of ideas, strategies and clarification of roles. Because people see themselves as party to a creative process, buy-in is much easier and roles are clarified faster. This builds sense of ownership which leads to commitment and accountability.

When teams are able to solidify rules of engagement, they find a way to execute better or continually improve the way they execute. Team members who are accountable and committed quickly identify areas for improvement and engage each other in a dialogue to act on the team's needs. This, I believe can only lead to better performance. Better performance means better results, which leads to higher personal and interpersonal confidence leading to stronger trust base. We already know how trust paves the way to better communication that eventually leads to better communication which is the requirement for continuing teamwork.


  1. I love your causal loop...I imagine commitment (red) also strengthens execution (white)leading to etc., etc....accountability also leads to heightened trust and trust can lead to clarity/buy-in---saying that trust, once built, enables clarity/buy-in, which leads to commitment...GREAT JOB! I've taken the liberty of adding this causal loop to my collection of causal loop examples...Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nice ways to keep up the team work. You can try for team building events as well


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