Establishing a strong, effective team takes an intentional, consistent effort. It’s crucial to note that there is a difference between what we typically think of as “team building” and truly building a team. Team building is often event-based and isolated to a particular day and time, once or twice a year. Building a team, on the other hand, is something we do on a much more regular basis, daily even. It is a process of continually reflecting, learning from our interactions with one another, and allowing that learning to influence the way we work together. Below are three “everyday teambuilding” suggestions to help you build your best team!
- The foundational step in creating a cohesive team is building trust. It is useful for people to spend time getting to know each other and exploring their similarities and uniqueness. Prepare 2 or 3 “self-disclosure” questions prior to your team meetings and have every team member take a turn responding, round robin fashion. Questions can progress from fun trivia type questions to more meaningful or work-related questions as the trust builds. For example, “What is your favorite vacation spot?” is a risk-free question, while, “Who in your life has most influenced your career? What did he/she do?” may feel more risky to some. The purpose is to allow for discovery of what teammates may have in common as well as to gain greater insight into what makes each other tick. Team members might rotate the job of coming up with the questions and facilitating the discussion.
- Another important step towards trust building is providing the space for team members to discuss individual expectations and the values that are important to them as a member of the group. Ask team members to think about what they value most in relationships and come prepared to each share their top 3 values. After each team member shares his/her list, explore commonalities and themes. Build themes into the team’s Guiding Principles or Important Values Agreement and have each team member verbally agree to uphold. This leads nicely into an opportunity to talk about an area where most teams have trouble: accountability. Explore questions like: “How will we know that we’re doing/upholding ‘abc value’? What will be different or enhanced?” “What will we do when we feel a value is not being honored?” This conversation can be facilitated over a few team meetings.
- On a regular basis (i.e.: quarterly), plan 10-15 minutes at the beginning of each team meeting for a “team process check-in.” We spend most of our time talking about the “what” (i.e.: the tasks at hand) and perhaps not enough time talking about the “how” (i.e.: how effectively we are interacting, resolving disagreements, getting to closure or decisions, etc.) This is where we the time, before the team begins discussing the tasks at hand, to focus on the process of being a cohesive team. At these process check-ins, pose a question or two for the team to explore together. Examples include:
- What’s good about the way we’ve been making decisions together? What’s working well for us?
- What would you (each team member) like to see more of regarding our communication about “abc”?
- Let’s reflect on Project X (just concluded). Name 1 or 2 things we did really well and how it contributed to the project’s success.
- What wins or successes are we celebrating today (remember to include the small everyday ones)?
- If there were one thing, that if different or better would have a big, positive impact in regard to how we’re handling our differences, what would that be?
Consider what might be possible when your team engages in this level of Everyday Teambuilding throughout the year. What results could you expect to see that you are not seeing today?