August 29, 2014
To Build Your Team, First Build Trust

Team-building activities create close-knit, happy and productive workers who function efficiently. Engaged teams are more motivated and reliable. They are supportive of the objectives of the team and there is greater alignment through the organization.

The result is that high-functioning teams are focused on improving job performance and the organization’s competitive position because they have a stake in the company’s success. Team-building initiatives improve workplace morale and reduce employee turnover.

Team-building as a cornerstone of corporate culture

Effective team-building begins with employee allegiance to corporate values, as well as immediate team objectives. It develops a service community within the organizational culture, one dedicated to optimal performance.

Coaching and otherwise facilitating teams to this level of achievement adds value to your organization, particularly as it relates to engagement with corporate strategies and goals. The team’s goals and the company’s goals are aligned, enhancing the communication between different levels of the firm. Teams are more inclined to achieve stated objectives.

Employees’ perception of personal and team value improves, boosting their confidence in their ability to complete their responsibilities within the team. Evidence suggests efficient teams finish their work 20 percent faster, with worker-satisfaction improving by 10 percent.

In addition, team-building exercises help develop workers and have a significant impact on employee performance. 45 percent are more likely to stay with their employer, 32 percent saw improved team productivity and 82 percent are less likely to use sick days.

The enhanced attendance and corporate loyalty engendered by team building further develops a team-centric corporate culture.

Team-building activities of value

Team building exercises should emphasize:

Improved communication: Team morale improves with enhanced understanding of project goals and other members’ beliefs about them.

Seek exercises that emphasize interactive exchange of ideas. For instance, divide the team into pairs and have each pair sit back-to-back. One member holds a photograph, describes to the other, who tries to draw it based on that description. Repeat the exercise between partners, then continually re-partner until all team members have been paired. Continue the exercise as descriptions lead to increasingly accurate drawings.

Decision-making: Even though they are part of a team, members should still be able to participate in key decisions. The Stepladder technique allows all members to express their opinion, in turn, encouraging total group participation. Multi-voting allows team members to vote on multiple team-issues with a weighted-vote method; choices with the most votes receive further consideration. The Delphi method encourages individual brainstorming of team issues, contributed anonymously to the decision-making process.

Planning: Keeping journals allows team members to track both errors and successes from previous projects, and use these findings as a basis for planning. Brainstorming and white-board sessions should include all members. These meetings help generate a fundamental outline of strategic principles according to business rationale and potential decision-outcomes. This kind of team planning allows members to take ownership over group decisions.

Problem-solving: Team members should try to resolve problems by comparing the present issue with those they’ve experienced in the past. Another technique suggests that members argue the pros and cons of suggested solutions. Queuing models optimize team solutions, depending on what resources are available.

Trust: There are several well-known team exercises that help foster trust within the group. For instance, one member of each group can lead a blindfolded member through obstacles or on extended-walks. The process is then repeated with roles reversed to build trust among participants.

Effective team building identifies the challenges confronting each particular team. Once appropriate goals and the means of achieving them have been articulated, the team can efficiently address them, through practical implementation of the action-plan. Team members learn not to compete against each other but to collaborate as a cohesive unit for project-completion. Building focused teams unifies daily corporate culture, delivering better quality performance and results.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith is the CEO and a co-founder of Rescue One Financial, headquartered in Irvine, California. Rescue One Financial helps individuals with unsecured debt during troubling times. Brad started his 18-year financial services career on Wall Street where he worked with the largest retail advisory group at Merrill Lynch. Brad writes a twice-weekly blog published on the Rescue One Financial web site, has authored a number of published articles and is a regular guest contributor to US-based radio and television financial programs.

Other Articles by Brad Smith:

3 Unforgettable Leadership Traits Of Effective Leaders

Can A Co-CEO Model Really Work?

Leadership Is A Process, Not A Position