Teambuilding: paving the way to engagement
How much do you care for the people you work with? For the majority of us, work is all about executing individual tasks and sticking to our own cubicle. We like our daily routine, because it is familiar to us, but little do we want to know about what happens in other cubicles on the same floor. However, as much as we might enjoy having a quiet day at work, unchallenged activities make us poor performers. While we may not notice our own apathy and lack of involvement, people around us may well do so.
Team building is fun, in most cases, and might be the perfect tool for assessing individual performance and the degree of engagement. Comparing ourselves to others may not be productive when it comes to our personal life, but from a professional point of view, seeing how others react and interact may encourage us to seek improvement. There is no perfect employee. There is no full comprehension of what our colleagues really think of us. But if you have participated in a teambuilding event, you know that people, in their diversity, do not need to be perfect as individuals, but cohesive as a team.
The first thing that we have to understand about a team is that all players have an area to which they add the most value. Consequently, everyone benefits from the right team member being in the right place. This is why teambuilding activities must begin with knowing each other’s skills, discipline, strengths, emotions and potential. Winning teams have players who are positively and passionately engaged, communicative and open-minded. Selfishness, cowardice and lone heroism, on the other hand, contribute to the team’s downfall.
Although often associated with outings of excessive partying, serious teambuilding enterprises engage employees in comprehensive activities of skill acknowledgement and development. Of course, there are the teambuilding activities that stand to be avoided, such as telling your colleagues what you don’t like about them, but coherent teambuilding ideas can help boost morale and increase productivity. Team exercises that are metaphors for daily workplace activities are example of teambuilding best practices.
For example, teambuilding activities that involve working together to build something are a real success when it comes to engaging everyone in meeting the same objective. When the end product turns into something useful, the outcome is even more rewarding. An exercise where people write down their problems at work and throw them into the trash can have an amazing cathartic effect. Furthermore, if those problems are taken out of the trash and addressed to by other members of the team, solutions that improve organizational performance may be found.
Games such as “Friday Night at the ER” represent a means of developing skills such as systems thinking, leadership, change management, as well as performance management. The game has 24 rounds and the players must make decisions regarding the patient turnover and their care. They also have to solve administrative issues, by wisely using the given resources. The process helps players understand the interdependences of an organizational environment and teaches them how to achieve their individual goals while contributing to the attainment of the collective ones. At the end of the simulation, players evaluate their performance and discuss about what they have learned as far as the system thinking and the team work are concerned.
So what is teambuilding, besides the process of understanding team functionality? Every organization has its own interpretation of the concept. But what most companies should grasp is that teambuilding is the path to employee engagement, systems alignment and continuous learning. No matter how talented we may be, if that talent is not put to good use, it benefits neither the team nor the organization to its full extent. No matter how well we perform at our job, if we do not consider ourselves part of the organization we work for, we may not be the best performers in that respective organization.
Teambuilding is a performance management tool. Coherent teambuilding is proof of increased job satisfaction and commitment, of trust and support, of unique coworkers working well together. Teambuilding is about understanding that every person is talented and finding the right use for each talented person within a team.
So, it is not that you have to care about the people you work with. But you do need to know which persons are best suited to help you achieve the goals set out for you by the organization you work for. And who knows? Maybe you’ll end up caring for them too, after all.
- Thorman S. and Mendonca K. (n.d.), Team building toolkit, keys to enhance your supervisory success, University of California, Berkley
- Kricher L. (n.d.), Best practices of team based organizations, Development Dimensions International, Inc.
- The KPI Institute (n.d.), Friday Night at the ER
- Dyer G, Dyer J. and Dyer W. (2013), Team building: proven strategies for improving team performance