By Tita D. Puangco
A reader recently asked, “Is there a way I can continuously build the teams under me so they become more dynamic? Once a year, we would go out to do a team building activity, for a month we experience success in relationships and performance eventuallythe next month’s work,it becomesagain a struggle. What activities canyou suggest to keep the teams up and going despite the stress of work? “
TEAM CULTURE VERSUS TEAM BUILDING
This is a very interesting challenge, keeping the teams up and reducing stress and fatigue. I suggest you move from simply team building programs to creating a team culture. This means creating the environment that will involve and engage employees as a team with clear measures and objectives. The environment includes defining group values and practices and enforcing norms. While team building programs annually serve as “ rest and recreation “ and “ stress relievers” they can simply serve as the foundation or starting point of managing the dynamics of team culture.
EXECUTIVE COACHING FOR STRONG TEAMS
Let me share some practices of companies outstanding in team culture building. One company leading in its industry decided to have its top 20 executives and leaders undergo one on one coaching tapping third party consultants with the point of view of educating them in building strong functional teams.
The coaching program was made up of 4 coaching cycles:first is to focus on leadership values and behaviors. The 360 degree assessment program used was SYMLOG an instrument developed by Dr. Robert Bales of Harvard backed up by 40 years of research. Through coaching the executives,they will be able to understand what behaviors of them contribute to teamwork, what behaviors interfere and what behaviors are effective sometimes but often interfere with teamwork. Based on the feedback, the executives developed their goals and action plans.
The second cycle is to focus on creating awareness of the executive on their social styles and roles they typically play in a team. Knowledge of their dominant social style will allow them to increase their versatility and flexibility working with others. So are you a driver? How do you flex when communicating with a subordinate who is amiable or expressive or analytical?
It also includes uncovering the typical roles played by the executive in team. Using Belbin team roles a person can appreciate his/her key contributions to a team: it is to act as chairman facilitating activities or a resource investigator who frequently refers resources to the team. Or a shaper, given an idea can move it forward into a doable idea. It also allows a person to explore what other roles he/she is capable of growing.
The third cycle is zeroes on organization dynamics and the fourth cycle is for the executives to plan how to move forward in unity.
BUILDING TEAMS THROUGH CELEBRATION
Another company decided that making time for the team once a month was a good idea. In a half day, the team would do celebrations. It could mean a joint celebration of birthday celebrants or a pizza shared creating a sense of feast after a task milestone is achieved. Work has become more enjoyable because of the fun generated. Attrition has gone down as people increase their sense of identification and belonging to the group. Later on, the team decided to deal on more serious task issues. They discovered for instance, having clients located all over the globe requires a core value “an appreciation of diversity and the importance of inclusion.” The team created an attractive tarpaulin that is prominently displayed inside their conference room with the shared norms. Examples would be: Be open to new ideas. Challenge ideas, not the person. Show respect at all times. Listen. Share ideas within two or three minutes. Speak with candor and transparency.
HELPING AND HINDERING NORMS
Another company displayed in its conference room Helping and Hindering Norms. Helping norms include: Be open to new ideas. Give honest feedback. Listen to the essentials a person is sharing. Hindering norms covered the following: Close your mind to another’s view point. Argue and debate. Show disrespect. At the end of every meeting a brief assessment is conducted using the norms as basis.
GOSPEL BASED PRACTICES
Finally, a gospel based company, monthly reflects on the Word of God. Together they share experiences how they lived the Word. Every day, they toss the cube of Christian love that has on each side a reminder to be lived that day. Examples would be: love everyone, be the first one to love, love without expecting anything in return. Among others.
LEADER ROLE MODELING
Creating a team culture requires much perseverance and tenacity from leaders. Plus a lot of role modelling. But it is worth the effort and energy. People cherish and contribute in building and growing the team. Plus the continuous growth in achieving, meeting and exceeding targets.
(Tita Datu Puangco is the President and Chairman of the Boardof Ancilla Enterprise Development Consulting, a major training and organization development company in the Philippines with an Asian reach. It specializes in enterprise transformation, executive coaching, corporate leadership and functional training, human resource systems, learning events and management of business training centers. Visit Tita’s Blog at http://titatalkstraining.blogspot.com. For additional information please email author at [email protected] or at [email protected])