Developing your team
- Action Planning
- Example Designs
- Example Activities
So you and your collegues are tired of experiencing the sypmptoms of poor teamwork. You understand or want to understand the stages of team development and the team building blocks (see below) used in the 4 stages of team building, in order to enable your team to become a mature team.
In this section, you will find a summary of process that will ensure project success, should you choose to use us as your team building training partner.
In the first instance it is important to us that you (as a potential client) understand what constitutes an effective team.
Effective teams seem to exhibit a set of common characteristics, characteristics which are associated with a mature team and effective team working. These characteristics can be referred to as the building blocks, to be used in a team building. These building blocks (that underpin our approach to team development) are as follows:
It is also important to identify the objectives that are important to the development of your team. We use a comprehensive Building Blocks Questionnaire team assessment instrument first, to determine development objectives, to guide us in selecting the most relevant team building activities and supporting materials for your team.
Your teams will be encouraged to experiment with the activities and to relate the learning to their work. Your team will develop back at work plans to apply the learning. (In learning by experience the value of an activity becomes apparent when it is tried fully, then tested back at work.)
Techniques, structured experiences, diagnostic questionnaires and a back at work review process are included in our team development programs. As far as is possible activities are linked with the explained theory, which in turn is linked back to the real workplace situations your team members have been drawn from.
The diagnostic instruments (e.g. 'Our team and its stage of development') we use enables teams to look at team strengths and weaknesses. Using these instruments will start the process of diagnosing your teamwork problems and of understanding more fully the concepts involved, using a simple development framework:
Diagnosing before Prescribing
In order for your team members to take full advantage of the opportunities offered them in a team building program they need to feel committed. Having them participate in the formulation of the needs and the subsequent diagnostic activities is a sure fire way of ensuring their commitment and support.
For instance, an initial team building assessment may include a comprehensive audit of the following team 'building blocks':
We can help you define needs in the initial assessment. During training your employees will develop their diagnostic skills and be able to identify the 'gap' between where they are now and where they would like to be. Plus, develop action plans for when they return to work.
Our team building activities are designed to enable your team members to diagnose, explore, then develop strategies to improve the above dynamics. From experience there are some hoary old chestnuts that regularly crop up from group to group in these dynamics, and a set of cause and effect relationships.
We could prescribe before we diagnose, but prefer to let you and your group diagnose before they come up with their prescription. It works!
Action planning is vital if your team building efforts are to succeed. It also needs to be part of a simple framework which includes identification of your needs and your ability to subsequently review the action plan. In any development activity the simple framework shown in the graphic, should always be kept in mind.
When working with us, it is not advisable to start action planning until you have identified your need and for you to always review progress during and after the action.
Action planning can be as simple as following the checklist of questions given in the Checklist Approach to Action Planning (that follows); using this approach will help uou ensure that:
- Needs are identified
- Needs are agreed
- The right people are involved
- Action is practical and appropriate
- The right resources are used
- Any other implications are considered
- The right time scale is adopted
- Results are used as a basis for further improvement
Checklist Approach to Action Planning
To assist you, some typical examples are listed below each question.
1. What is the need?
- To improve openness.
- To address a specific known problem.
- To develop a more effective form of leadership.
- To improve our decision-making ability.
- To clarify our objectives.
- To generally review and improve the way we operate as a team.
2. Is this need agreed by those affected?
- Has everyone been consulted?
- Have we ensured commitment?
- Do we have to spend more time agreeing needs?
3. To whom does it apply?
- The whole team.
- Leaders of different teams.
- Task groups.
- An individual.
4. How will we know if we have been successful?
- Are we sure of our development objectives?
- Are they measurable?
- Can other people help us to evaluate?
- What behavioural changes do we expect?
5. Is anyone else likely to be affected?
- Other teams or departments.
- The organization as a whole.
- Other team leaders.
- Do we need approval?
6. What methods, techniques or actions will be adopted?
- Teambuilding activities
- Other activities and techniques known to me.
- Other sources of ideas.
7. What other resources will be needed?
- Do we need external help?
- Can other departments or teams help us?
- Do we need to get out of the work situation?
8. What time scale will be adopted?
- A month
- A quarter
- A year
9. How will progress be reviewed?
- By self review.
- By process observation.
- By regular specific review meetings.
- By other review methods
10. How will we assess whether further action is necessary?
- Should we evaluate our effect on others?
- Should we analyse our needs again?
Example Team Building Training Workshop Designs
The different designs which can be derived from our materials and building blocks approach are almost endless. A few examples are given below, to show how we can design and arrange for different team development purposes, up, down and across organisations (around the world.)
These tested training designs vary in objectives, in length and in participants. They are purposely included for example purposes
Improving our teamwork
Originally designed as a 'starter' (Stage 1) event to enable an existing team to explore the potential of, and need for, teambuilding. This design has often been used with teams who are considering teamwork for the first time and need a general introduction as a prelude to further work.
To provide an opportunity for teams to understand:
- The importance of teamwork.
- Its relationship to other organizational problems.
- The need for improvement.
- Approximately 1 day.
- Teams who regularly work together and have not previously been exposed to team theory/ activities.
An introduction to team leadership issues
Designed to allow managers with no previous experience of teambuilding activities to begin examining their own role and behaviour in relation to the teams they are leading. Originally used with managers in a large organization who had previously received no formal training, it has been used since to whet the appetite of many managers.
To provide an opportunity for team leaders to:
- Question their assumptions and beliefs about the management of others.
- Examine their performance in working with others.
- Consider the theory of effective team leadership.
- Approximately 4 to 5 hours
- Anyone with responsibility for the leadership/management of teams.
An Introduction to Teamwork
An introduction to team development for people who do not regularly work together and wish to be introduced to its potential. Originally it was used for a large gathering of chief executives of retail stores groups who had heard about team development and wanted to know a little more.
To provide a basic introduction to teamwork issues by:
- Explaining basic teamwork theory.
- Experiencing simple teamwork activities.
- Approximately 3 to 4 hours
- Anyone who has not experienced teambuilding activities previously.
A medium length event enabling people to familiarize themselves with essential theory and activities as a prelude to understanding teambuilding activities in their own teams/ organizations. The design has been used on several occasions as the basis for public workshops where trainers and managers from different organizations come together for two to three days.
To provide a medium length training experience in which participants can:
- Explore the importance of effective teamwork.
- Understand basic teamwork theory.
- Consider particularly issues of balanced roles, management style, support and trust, co-operation and conflict.
- Receive practical guidance and ideas on assessing teamwork problems and beginning to improve teamwork.
- Develop action plans based on the above.
- 2 days
- Key managers in organization.
Improving My Management of Others
A full day in which managers can assess their performance as team leaders and make plans to improve their future performance. A step on from An introduction to team leadership issues, this can be used where managers are prepared to invest a full day in examining their own strengths and weaknesses. This design was originally put together for a group of managers, each of whom managed individual plants, who met together for an annual business conference and wished to spend part of the time examining how they managed their own units.
To provide an opportunity for team leaders to:
- Question their assumptions and beliefs about the management of others.
- Assess their personal performance in working with others.
- Obtain basic guidance on applying this learning in their own situation..
- 1 day
- Managers and supervisors who normally lead teams.
Indepth Teambuilding Workshop
A one week event in which a team can work seriously on the fundamental issues which will improve its functioning and prepare plans for the future.
To provide an opportunity for team members to:
- Understand the importance of teamwork.
- Relate this to operational plans.
- Analyse team development needs.
- Prepare action plans for teamwork improvement.
- 5 day
- Intact work group or leaders of a number of teams.
A one day event for those who need to understand the theory of team development but who do not regularly work together. The design was originally used with a group who had little experience of team building.
To promote understanding of team development theory:
- 1 day
- Groups of individuals who need to understand the basics. They need not normally work together.
Team Building Workshop Design Flexibility
Our designs are flexible and can be adjusted to suit different participants, problems and time scales. It is hoped that they will be useful in demonstrating the way in which the materials are used to build up our training sessions. This can be done by using a set of simple guidelines, which, if followed, should be of great assistance in designing training events which are relevant, stimulating, meaningful and enjoyable.
Guidelines for Designing Training Events
- We always start by defining the objectives you wish to achieve.
- Because teambuilding often depends on openness, members must be prepared to say what they really think. This means that participants must attend on a voluntary basis.
- Notwithstanding the need to reach a natural conclusion we establish a time table and keep to it as far as possible. We make sure that our facilitators understand the timings, but do not close down discussion prematurely.
- We select activities and lecturettes which will best help you achieve the objectives.
- We intersperse activities, lecturettes and discussions to give a balanced programme.
- We try to eliminate jargon and difficult theory wherever possible.
- Team training will have a greater chance of success if the participants have themselves been involved in defining the problem.
Team Building Activities and the Learning Experience
Learning is more than a matter of absorbing information. Your team may know very well what they should do but fail to accomplish in practice what their intellect tells them is right. Such behaviour can become self-defeating. Your people may begin to expect failure at a particular point, and this further reduces the chances of success by inhibiting their energy and reducing confidence and initiative.
These barriers to effectiveness can be thought of as 'blockages'. Useful development will occur when such blockages are identified during team building activities away from work. Doing so will enable your team to experience the possibility and potential of progressing beyond them. Such experience renews motivation and envisions future 'higher ground'.
Our practical team building activities have been designed to help your team develop insight, skills and resourcefulness. Each activity has the same principal function: to create a learning experience that can be practically used in any workplace, to achieve results.
There almost always are three steps in achieving significant learning.
Step 1: Exploring the present
The present situation must be explored as thoroughly as possible. This includes looking at all factors involved, rational and irrational, positive and negative.
Although we tend to see the world and ourselves only from one point of view, other individuals and teams can give us information from different viewpoints, thereby challenging our assumptions.
This helps to explore the present more fully.
Step 2: Visioning the future
Unless a team is to drift from situation to situation at the mercy of circumstance, it is necessary to have clear aims and objectives that are tangible expressions of desires and needs.
A vision of the future is a very important tool for assisting change. It provides motivation and increases the will to succeed.
Without aims, teams cannot bring their tenacity, drive and creativity into play. The absence of genuine desire frequently undermines achievement and development.
As teams explore their aims it also is important that they spend time identifying and considering options.
Step 3: Bridging the gap
The third step in the process of change bridges the gap between the present situation and what the team wishes to achieve.
After goals and targets are identified, resources need to be identified and allocated. The importance and difficulty of the planned change govern the quantity and quality of the resources that need to be mobilized. Important tasks require significant effort, and, as every team knows, there is a greater risk of failure when a team embarks on a programme of change with insufficient resources.
Planning change is complex because situations rarely are static and new factors constantly intervene to affect existing plans. However, not all deviations are destructive. Sometimes new opportunities arise and it would be foolish to ignore these in pursuit of more limited goals. Each new opportunity or change should be reviewed in view of the broad objectives that have been set.
A new problem often can become an opportunity if sufficient creativity is employed. The exercise of initiative and assertiveness is vital to accomplishment of goals.