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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Team Building; The Whole Nine Yards

One of the biggest challenges I encounter as a consultant and team building facilitator in the Philippines is convincing clients to take the whole nine yards in team building.  On many occasions, clients have made up their minds about what they want before they call a consultant which is usually limited to holding a one or two days team building event, nothing more and nothing less. In my opinion, if a team has a real need to improve  performance, that kind of thing rarely works.
 What do I consider the whole nine yards of team building? Let me explain. A holistic team development intervention, in my opinion starts with the intervener understanding the nature of the team's need and ends with an evaluation of their ability to demonstrate change that leads to result. On occasions when clients allow us to really work with them in enhancing their team culture, this is what my company, ExeQserve does:
  1.  We conduct a series of needs assessment activities to help us understand the team's organizational climate, the personalities, their challenges and their performance improvement needs. This is usually done through three meetings that include interview of leaders, another meeting to administer climate survey, personality test and members’ interview. The third meeting involves presentation of needs assessment, recommendations and program design.
  2. Identifying a workplace development objective or outcome. I believe teams need a rallying point and success indicator, a way of knowing if they are working better as a team. We call it a thematic goal. It is a phrase we borrowed from Patrick Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
  3. Recognizing  the leadership development needs and developing an agenda - more than half of team infirmities are caused by leadership gaps. More than half is an optimistic estimate. It is almost instantaneous tha if leadership improves, the teamwork improves as well. Before we hold a team building event, we talk to the leaders about identified leadership gaps and what kind of changes they need to make to lead the team culture change. We explain that team development is really a leadership development program in disguise. We explain that this is their event. We are just resource persons, they have to lead the learning process.
  4. The learning event is an execution of what we as facilitators and the leaders of the team agree to do together. The leader takes the pivotal role of pointing to a direction while allowing members to draw rules of engagement or making agreements on how to play the game.
  5. The learning event is what it is, a learning event. The conversation among members that happens a few days after the workshop and is led by the real leader of the team is where the team really starts to build itself. 
  6.  Monitoring and evaluation - At level one evaluation, we learn how the members appreciate the program; by taking inventory of realizations, we gather their learning; through follow up sessions, we get to determine how much they are able to apply; and by reviewing success indicators, we get to know if the investment is returned. Conducting an assessment session at an appointed time is also a learning opportunity for team members to take stock of what they did well and what they can do better. It also allows them to set a new goal to pursue where they can apply their learning from the first cycle.
Bottom line - a well thought out, team development strategy can go a long way specially if it is matched with leadership commitment and development. You want something like this for your team? Let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article! Really rings true. We have seen teams really benefitting from having a concrete team development strategy. It's amazing how much improvement can be had just from having such a strategy. Thanks for spreading the word! :)

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