Team around a table

When it comes to team-building activities for the workplace, there is usually one of two responses.

  1. Enthusiasm around doing something unique and different as a team.
  2. A collective groan from the employees who think that this will just be one more thing that HR or Training thinks is fun.

The response that isn’t always asked or explored, though, is critical – how about this: How will this team building actually affect our team’s performance? I’m not talking about how it will make the team understand each other better (it should) or how it can create a more cohesive environment (it should).

I am talking about how you are measuring performance around competencies that the team needs for success and how a team-building activity actually builds upon those competencies.

So what team-building skills and competencies are important? How about competencies from noted management guru William Dyer in the book Team Building, like how effectively a team can run a meeting or if the team builds trust or if the team knows its leader’s management and communication style.

Team-building activities must focus on ensuring that teams really become more proficient in three key areas that unlock success in any skill or competency that an organization deems important.

  1. Team members need to know how to understand themselves and the way they work most effectively and efficiently from an individual standpoint.
  2. Team members need to know how to cultivate relationships in a way that creates a whole greater than the sum.
  3. Team members need to know how to best approach the tasks that need to get done.

It sounds simple, but these three things are incredibly complex.

The self-awareness aspect is difficult to truly understand (which is why we advocate a psychometric assessment to help bring this into a more concrete and visible focus) and the process of knowing how to cultivate relationships is a layered, nuanced balance between understanding differences and looking for cohesion and common ground. Again, assessments and a common language can be critical in aiding this process because they open up a dialogue about how each person goes about their work and approaches the relationship. Which leads to the third area, that of advancing tasks via stronger relationships and greater understanding of one’s own preferences. Tasks can take on a different role in this regard, as there is a new, more comprehensive understanding about what it takes to do a task successfully and create higher performance once a team has identified its roles more clearly and knows that each person is on board.

So no matter what team-building activity you choose, understanding your employees and the way relationships can be enhanced will help take team-building activities to a more productive, results-oriented place.

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