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Archive for the ‘team building tips’ Category

Instructions for Build-A-Bike Team Building Activity

Instructions for Build-A-Bike Team BuildingSince we created the Build-A-Bike ® team building activity in 2005, we have received thousands of requests to post the instructions for Build-A-Bike ® team building activity online. We’ve always been a little hesitant to post the instructions, because we have spent over a decade creating a brand that the public recognizes as a quality product. However, the event is so popular, that we really want to make sure that if you are doing one of these programs on your own, that you have every opportunity to make the activity successful.

A Few Cautionary Suggestions Before Organizing a Self-Facilitated Build-A-Bike ®

The absolute, most important thing to keep in mind about team building activities is, the larger the event and the longer the time frame, the more you will want a professional team building instructor or facilitator. If your group size is 20 people or smaller, and you just want a quick 30-minute fun activity, then the self-facilitated version might be excellent for you! However, if you want an event to last an hour or two, or if you have a group of 100 or more people, we strongly suggest that you higher a professional instructor. (We have a list of certified instructors located all over the US, Canada, and Europe. Just call us at 800-872-7830 for a list of instructors in your area.

When we deliver a Build-A-Bike ® activity, our goal is to keep every participant active and having fun throughout the entire event. If this is your goal as well, make sure and hire an instructor. The instructors on our list have each conducted HUNDREDS of events. They have seen everything. They can handle any challenge that presents itself. The biggest challenge that we see in self-facilitated events is that there is often a few people participating and a bunch of people standing around watching.

Finally, if timing is important, we suggest a professional instructor. It typically takes a single person about 15 to 20 minutes to assemble a bike. If you have groups of four to eight people working together to build the bike, it typically just takes a few minutes. So, the activities that accompany the event are way more important than the bike assembly.

Instructions for Build-A-Bike ® Team Building

We offer a turn-key Build-A-Bike ® Kit that includes a bike, helmet, team building activities, and access to an online instruction manual for a small fee. You can order these kits online at Build-A-Bike ® Kit. At the time I’m writing this post, we are charging $200 per kit. We suggest at least one of these kits for every eight people in your group. Keep in mind that if you are donating the bikes to a charity, the larger the donation, the more impressive the ending of the event. So, if you only order a single kit, you’ll just have one bike at the end to donate. We also suggest that you donate at least four bikes — even if you have a small group of participants.

If you want to create a custom activity for your group, for a small fee, our instructors can design one for you. You can also rent tools from us. So, we can ship you a team building event in a box fairly easily.

A Few Easy Team Building Activities

Even if you don’t want to purchase our kits, we have posted detailed instructions about a number of our favorite team building activities. Links to these activities are below.

Since we do thousands of these activities all over the world, we have an extensive list of charities who know about Build-A-Bike ® and will enthusiastically accept the donation.

Options for Self-Facilitated Events

Five Ways to Add Fun and Energy to Your Meeting or Convention

Add Fun and Energy to Your MeetingAre you staring another boring convention in the face? Below are five ways to add fun and energy to your meeting or annual convention. Have you been drafted to organize your next team meeting or convention? As the event organizer, you have both a fantastic opportunity and a potential mine field. So, we organized these simple tips to help you navigate through the obstacles and be the hero of your next meeting. Keep the following ideas in mind when you organize your convention or meeting! First, less is more. Secondly, establish a common theme. Next, scrutinize every speaker and activity. Organize the agenda based on the time of day. And finally, add something unexpected and fun!

(1) Less is More

Meeting planners and organizers often want to make sure that they maximize the content of the convention so that there is no wasted time. This is a BIG mistake. In fact, there is a code that you will sometimes receive in your exit surveys. If you understand this code, it will help you better organize the agenda later. For instance, if you see comments like, “Let’s do something outside next year,” that is actually code for, “We love the location of the meeting, but we were trapped in the banquet hall all day.” Frequent breaks and free time for participants to explore the venue are key in convention satisfaction.

(2) Establish a Common Theme to Add Fun and Energy to Your Meeting

Even first time event organizers will typically establish a theme for the meeting. However, the theme has to be something that your attendees will be enthused about. For instance, “Change You Can Believe In” doesn’t really mean a whole lot to the attendees. In fact, attendees may be resistant to the change. However, “Beat (Your Biggest Competitor)” is something that your attendees will get behind. Whatever theme you end up with, make sure and focus a lot on the next tip…

(3) Scrutinize Every Speaker and Activity

Make sure that every speaker and activity in every, single, slot on the agenda focuses the group on your theme. You will often be pulled by different executives who want to add their own big idea to the agenda. However, the once you get off topic, it will become much more difficult to keep the main idea clear to the audience.

Last year, we were hired to deliver one of our Build-A-Bike ® team building events during a new re-branding roll-out for a credit union. The them of their meeting was “Brand Camp,” which was play on words for the running joke in the movie American Pie. Now the normal Build-A-Bike ® activity doesn’t really apply to the re-branding of an organization. However, because we knew the theme, we were able to alter the activities and the delivery to focus on how each of the small groups building the bicycles had to complete their individual task properly for the customer (the kids receiving the bike) to all get a consistent product. We used that as a metaphor for how the roll-out would need to be consistent as well.

These little touches will make your convention more memorable.

(4) Organize the Convention Agenda Based on the Time of Day

A good rule of thumb for organizing the agenda is that as the day progresses, you want to gravitate toward entertainment versus data. It is always good to start with an energetic speaker or keynote to set an enthusiastic agenda. However, if you have dry or less enthusiastic content, make sure and place those speakers in the morning. Afternoon sessions typically work well with breakout sessions so that there is more interaction. Late in the afternoon, panels of speakers and question and answer sessions work better. Once you get past 4 PM in the day, though, you want to organize something more fun.

I’ve seen good event planners start their last afternoon session with a panel of “old timers” (seasoned employees) with a couple of beers in front of them. This panel spends the time relaying war stories from their experience.

Team building companies like our are also often hired for late afternoon or early evening activities.

(5) Add Something Unexpected and Fun

The reason why our Charity Team Building activities work so well at conventions is that team members are working together on something totally un-work-related and for charity. Coworkers get to see each other in a unique way. In addition, there is always a lot of energy and laughing along the way. These activities allow your attendees to learn something while they are being entertained. So, they work really well — especially late in the day.

So, if you want to add fun and energy to your meeting, keep these five simple things in mind. First, less is more. Secondly, establish a common theme. Next, scrutinize every speaker and activity. Organize the agenda based on the time of day. And finally, add something unexpected and fun!

A Few Team Building Ideas that Cost Nothing (Or Very Little)

Team Building IdeasThousands of people come to our website every day looking for new team building ideas. In fact, the term team building has a number of different definitions. This term means a lot of different things to different people. Companies often have our instructors help them with annual conventions and meetings, because they are looking for ways to add enthusiasm and energy to their regular meetings. These one-time, or annual, activities are a fantastic way to build camaraderie and teamwork, but what do you do the rest of the year? Below are a few of our favorite team building ideas that are either free or cost very little to your company.

For Some Reason, a Lot of Good Team Building Ideas Involve Food

Although this first idea isn’t free, it is often very popular. Many managers often remember to order breakfast for their employees if the group will be in an all-day meeting or training session, but those types of purchases are really expected, today. However, if you happen to order a couple of pizzas for lunch on one of your employee’s birthday, the notion will often be much more appreciated. A quick note to everyone in the office saying, “Since it is Joe’s birthday, we’d like to invite everyone to the break room at lunch for free pizza!”

One of my friends had an employee bring her son’s chocolate-bar school fundraiser to the office. He had 20 employees in the office. So, he bought 20 bars of chocolate and gave one to each person in the office. The morale in the office rose, his employees each received a nice gift, and the mother who was helping her child was also very enthused. Pretty good investment for $40.

A box of tacos builds morale as well. Every once in a while, pick up a box of breakfast burritos or breakfast tacos for the office. Again, these are fairly inexpensive and often very appreciated.

Company-Wide Kudos

A quick (and free) way to build teamwork is to pass along positive reviews to the whole company (or department). In our company, we send out a survey after each event asking the customer to review and rate the event and instructor. Anytime we get a five star rating (which is often), we forward the review to the entire company via email saying, “Kudos to (The Instructor)”. Granted, since we do get a lot of nice reviews, it does cause a lot of emails to flow. However, that quick, positive feedback increases teamwork exponentially.

Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good, but that I heard never.” – Dale Carnegie

As managers and leaders, we tend to focus on making corrective comments, but the “atta boy” comments tend to go a long way for positive morale.

An Impromptu Outing

When I was in high school, I worked at a fast food place. One day, those of us working on the day shift decided to go to a movie together. It was a spur of the moment decision. When we all met up at the theater, though, the boss was already there. We were all a little uncomfortable, because we hadn’t actually invited him. He had heard the discussion, though, and when everyone arrived, he purchased tickets for the entire group. It was such a memorable gesture, that I still recall the gesture over 20 years later. I still think of that first boss as being one of the leaders that I most respect in my career.

Last year, I had a meeting at our team building office in San Antonio. Since it was summer, I had my son tag along, and we decided to go visit the Alamo, etc. When we arrived in San Antonio, it was almost lunch time, so as I did the suggestion above — I ordered a couple of pizzas for the group. Then, we spent the rest of the lunch hour at the go-cart track across the street. It was a blast. Most of the folks in this store are salespeople and the rest are in operations, so it was a highly competitive outing. The whole group went back to work with a lot of enthusiasm.

Do Something for Charity

Our Charity Events are very popular at conventions and annual meetings. One reason for this is that while building teamwork and camaraderie, the group is also doing something nice for others. For years, companies have been working with organizations like Habitat for Humanity where the whole company takes a day off to build a home for someone who is homeless. However, your commitment doesn’t have to be that dear.

For instance, we conducted a Build-A-Bike ® program for a company in Atlanta a few years back. The group decided to donate the bicycles from the event to an elementary school close to the venue. Build-A-Bike ® has a single part where the teams used markers and construction paper to make a banner. After the program, the participants decided to donate these leftover art items to the school as well. When the principal showed up to receive the bikes, she gave a heart-felt thank you for the craft items. The group was a little surprised, because, compared to the bikes, the arts and crafts were fairly insignificant. The principal told them that she had recently had to discontinue her art program, because the school just didn’t have the funds to support it.

On Monday morning, the boss’ office was stuffed with arts and craft supplies that individuals in the office purchased on their own. They made a special trip to the school after work to donate the items.

Remember that the Best Team Building Ideas Come from the Heart

The key to these altruistic activities is that they can’t be forced. The more spontaneous they are, the more welcomed they are received. I’d suggest that, at one of your regular meetings, identify to the group a specific need of a charity, and then ask the group if they can think of any way that we can help the folks in need.

What all of these ideas have in common is that they aren’t being used with an ulterior motive. The leader isn’t trying to get something in return. Whether you are spontaneously celebrating a birthday, sharing a compliment with the team, doing something for charity, or having an impromptu outing with your employees, you want to do it for the benefit of your associates. If you have that attitude, you’ll come up with a lot more ideas than these!

Why Team Building is Important after a Merger or Acquisition

By Michelle Riklan

Team Building is Important after MergerMergers and acquisitions can be exciting opportunities for companies to come together under a united sense of purpose and vision. Team building is also important after a merger or acquisition. Mergers can breed jealously and distrust. In fact, employees with an “us-versus-them” mentality will produce harmful effects and poor performance. What is the key to making sure your merger or acquisition is the former? Team building events. Team building activities create a formal opportunity for teams to come across “party lines” and work together. In addition, these newly created teams can help foster the right environment for effectively executing a merger. Finally, we can effectively abolish the phrase “the way we used to do things” in the process.

Three Reasons that Team Building is Important After a Merger or Acquisition.

Read on to discover why team building events are so crucial during M&A. Unite your employees with these tips for creating a team building event for merging corporate cultures.

Reason 1: Mergers and acquisitions make employees feel like they have a lack of control.

For the vast majority of team members, they probably had no say about if this merger or acquisition would take place. In addition, we likely didn’t consult them about how it would be carried out. Often, this can lead to employees feel like they’re not cared about or that they’re not able to express their viewpoints or concerns. They feel like they are just pawns that are subject to the higher-ups’ decisions.

Creating a team building event where employees work together in teams to create a final product helps them feel like they are supported and in control of their own destiny. Leaders should ensure that employees have the opportunity to express their ideas and feelings. Then, allow them to put these ideas into practice if they make sense for the company.

Reason 2: Employees are often resistant to the unknown.

Change is hard, especially for employees that have been around for a while. While change is inevitable in today’s culture, building, maintaining, and nurturing trust with your employees makes all the difference in the midst of mergers and acquisitions.

Trust is built through team building events where everyone – from senior leadership to interns – are involved and engaged. This helps your team see that you are committed to their success. Additionally, when you are present for support but not micromanaging, you have adopted an empowering management style. Your employees see that the trust you’ve built is mutual and that you have faith in them to carry out the right actions.

Reason 3: It’s hard to break down pre-existing groups.

Every workplace has groups or cliques. When a merger or acquisition happens, these groups can become even more defined or exclusive. This creates the us-versus-them mentality between the two legacy companies.

It’s impossible to just break down groups and not expect them to re-form. So instead, encourage team building where people are put into groups that bridge the divide between the two companies. This kind of event encourages the formation of groups around department, personality, or even interests outside of work. When former lines are blurred, cooperation is fostered.

A Fun Team Building Event Can Help after a Merger.

There are several reasons why team building events are necessary after a merger or acquisition. But once your company decides to follow through, what are the best practices for executing a team building event?

  • Make it fun. Team building has received a bad reputation for being boring, but it doesn’t have to be. First, your team building event should be centered around exciting and educational. In addition, competitive elements will bring people together.
  • Make it organized. Team building events that are disorganized contribute to the idea that they are a waste of time. Form a committee (of members of both companies!), or hire an outside firm to put on your event to ensure everything goes according to plan.
  • Make it benefit others. Team building events with a charity component put everyone in the giving spirit and encourage teamwork centered around a common goal.

By following these tips to execute a team building event after your merger or acquisition, you can bring people together. Your team will have a new sense of focus and pride in their new company.

Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also teaches in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.

What to do When Your Team Doesn’t Play Nicely in the Sandbox

Team Doesn't Play Nicely in the SandboxLook for ideas on what to do when your team doesn’t play nicely in the sandbox? Any time people get together, whether at work or play, there is the potential for conflict. This “rule” is not exclusive to family outings. For teams, conflict can be a double-edged sword. In many ways it depends on the team members’ interpersonal preferences and personality types as to how they respond to conflict. When a team or its members are not playing nice in the sandbox, that kind of behavior and activities that can damage a team’s morale and long-term success. Below are a few things to understand about why your team doesn’t play nicely in the sandbox.

So Your Team Doesn’t Play Nicely in the Sandbox…

Understanding Healthy Conflict

Healthy conflict does exist. There are some people that are going to shy away from any type of conflict or perceived adversity, so teams need to recognize who those people are and keep them engaged. Healthy conflict is when thoughts are being hashed out. When people are passionate about strategies and ideas, there is a good chance that people will get heated. The reason is because it means something to those individuals. So long as the conflict stays professional and the people involved are able to see past near-term disagreements, healthy conflict on a team is something that can lead to successful projects and initiatives.

Address Unhealthy Conflict Early

Unhealthy conflict, or when people are not playing nice in the sandbox, has the opposite effect on teams. It shuts some people down, can bring ideas and progress to a halt, and can do serious short- and long-term damage to everything good the team has going for it. One of the worst things that can happen is for people to put unnecessary negative energy into their feelings about someone else.

One of the keys is to figure out early why the conflict exists. Teams are generally made up of approximately 5 people, give or take. Has the team broken off into 2 or more factions? Who is actually not getting along, the entire team or just a couple people? This has to be found out. Sit people down individually and ask questions. If there is one person not playing nicely in the sandbox and everyone feels it, it’s not healthy to let that fester. Everyone may recognize it except the offending party. Worst yet, the offending party may know what he or she is doing and not realize how it is affecting others.

Start Digging

One of the first things to recognize when peeling back the layers is that, most of the time, people in situations like this think they are right. Very rarely can one find circumstances where all the blame goes to one side or the solution is cut and dry. As a leader, you have to gather as much information as you can from team members.

Acquiring relevant information as to how people have been affected and feel about the state of the team helps identify a strategy on moving forward.

Communication is key to any relationship, and relationships at work are no exception. Different personality traits can rub people the wrong way. Certain types of conduct sometimes can grate on people’s nerves. As simple as some of this sounds, miscommunication and differing communication preferences can be the source of much workplace conflict.

Utilize Available Resources

Eventually the situation is going to have to be addressed. There are varying degrees of comfort levels for these types of meetings. For managers and supervisors that have not dealt with many interpersonal conflicts, it can be stressful. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who can give advice or has been there before. This may be another manager, mentor, HR professional or organizational behavior consultant.

Depending on how deep-seeded the involved parties’ conflict really is, consider mediation services. Not only does mediation allow each party to express his or her feelings, but they will come to an agreement about how to move forward working with each other. Many organizations employ or have contracts with trained mediators and facilitators. Some employee assistance programs (EAP) will offer this service as part of an EAP contract.

Another alternative that can engage the whole team is to have a workshop where everyone learns about different personality types. Leaders Institute® has a great program for creating a team culture and exercises to help blend personal development with building trust and understanding among team members.

Focus on Values

Finally, but far from least important, redirect the team’s focus back to its core values. How are the actions or behavior that is disrupting the team helping the team uphold its values? If those values are not being adhered to, how is the team working towards its mission? It’s not just a boss’s responsibility to move a team to be more productive. As an effective team, and as leaders, it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure the sandbox is running smoothly, productively and respectfully.

Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also teaches in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.

How You Can Tell If Your Team Thinks that You Are a Great Leader

team thinks that you are a great leaderHow can you tell if your team thinks that you are a great leader? Leadership comes in all different shapes and styles. There is no one prescribed method. When it comes to leading a team, it largely comes down to supporting and bringing the best out of the team members. That involves creating the right environment or culture. Just as there are different leadership styles, people have different preferences for the types of leader they like to work with. One of the areas leaders often struggle with is recognizing when their leadership is effective. It can be easy to analyze business results, but figuring out how a team feels about the leader is difficult to discern. Asking for feedback is one route to go. Coincidentally, leaders whose teams think they’re great will get candid feedback. On the other hand, there are also several ways a leader can tell by observation if your team thinks that you are a great leader.

If They Tell You What You Need to Hear, Your Team Thinks that You are a Great Leader

When a leader has a team that is willing to bring him or her bad news in a timely fashion, that is a very good sign. Leaders should strive to create an environment where it is more important to get it right than hide problems. When team members freely share the bad news, they have confidence in their leadership.

This signals certain levels of trust and comfort. Not a comfort akin to complacency. Comfort in the fact that by telling the boss the numbers on the latest product launch aren’t looking as good as projected, she won’t flip out and destroy the messenger. A leader will not have the full picture if he is only hearing the news.

If They Have Your Back, Your Team Thinks that You are a Great Leader

Teams led by a great leader win together and lose together. This particular point and the preceding one are not meant to be negative, it’s just that oftentimes adversity sheds the most light on a team’s effectiveness.

One of the burdens of leadership is taking responsibility for things that happen. Most great leaders will deflect praise from success. When things do not go as planned, a team that stands behind its leader is a testament to its feelings for that person’s leadership. When the boss is in hot water and the rest of the team gets in the boiling pot with him, this speaks volumes.

They Refer High-Performers to Join the Team

Just like with customers, there may be no higher compliment than a colleague referring talent to work with a team. This is not about a referral program or getting a bonus if the person stays 6 months. An unsolicited “You want to come work with us” from one high-performer to another says a lot.

Great employees usually associate with other great employees. When those employees start steering their colleagues to the team, that is a sign the team is confident in its leadership and is focused on getting better, not protecting their turf or expertise.

The Expectations Are High

Another way to tell if a team thinks highly of its leader is that the team has high expectations. They hold themselves to high standards without anyone telling them to do so. When teams with great leaders win, they celebrate that success, but do not rest on their laurels They do not want to disappoint customers, stakeholders or each other.

This motivation is not out of fear, but loyalty. A great leader’s team sees how hard the leader works. They recognize how committed that person is and they follow that example. Where other people or teams may be satisfied if something is good enough, teams working for great leaders kick their performance into overdrive and take it to a new level. When teams work for a great leader, that leader does not have to beat the drum for improvement or achievement, the entire team lines up to play that tune.

Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also teaches in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.

Build a Culture of Trust and Rapport with Your Team

Looking for a quick way to build a culture of trust and rapport with your team? Over a decade ago, I wrote a book called 28 to Influence People as a simple how-to book in building a team culture and improving leadership skills. Interestingly, since I wrote that book, my company, The Leader’s Institute, LLC has become one of the fastest growing and largest team building companies in the world. These principles from the 28 Ways book are time-tested. As a result, they work 100% of the time. However, groups sometimes have confusion between “shared experience” team building event and “behavior change” team building activities.

For instance, sometimes, groups just want to do a fun activity as a group and feel good about the camaraderie that was built in the experience (shared experience). Other times, teams may be experiencing team challenges, or the team may be doing well, but still want to improve communication and teamwork (behavior change). Sometimes, groups want a combination of both.

That is one of the reason why our team building events are so popular. Our instructors mix real behavior changing activities with a fun shared experience. For instance, the first seven chapters in the 28 Ways book are seven ways to build a culture of trust with your team. They are also essential keys to building a team culture. So, in fun activities like a Build-A-Bike ® team building event, an instructor might deliver these seven principles to the group as an introduction. Then, the instructor may reinforce these principles throughout the activity. That way, the group receives real team building skills while having fun in the activity.

Seven Ways to Build a Culture of Trust

  1. Avoid Complaining.
  2. Look at Things from the Other Person’s Point of View.
  3. Smile.
  4. Make an Effort to Remember Names.
  5. Avoid Placing the Burden of Your Problems onto Other People.
  6. Take Responsibility for Clear Communication.
  7. Practice Good Listening Skills.

For a list of our fun team building events, click here. Or, if you want to participate in the online workshop based on these principles, click here.

5 Characteristics of Highly Effective Teams

Characteristics Highly Effective TeamsThe power of a team lies in its capacity to perform at levels, and deliver results, greater than the sum of its parts. Managers and leaders put a great deal of effort into assembling high-performing teams. Considerable resources are often expended to ensure those teams reach their potential. For team members, as well as other people in an organization, recognizing when a team is doing well is important. When improvement is needed, it is important to make positive changes. However, sometimes it is helpful to take a step back in order to recognize when a team is working effectively. The workings of a highly effective team are not always obvious or intuitive to everyone. So, below are a few characteristics of highly effective teams.

Highly Effective Teams have Trust

Being in an environment of trust feels way different than the alternative. Transparency is another way to think of this concept. Effective teams operate in an environment where they have each others’ backs. They take risks, and share successes and praise. Even more importantly, they are quick to reveal missteps. This is important because the earlier mistakes are highlighted, the easier they are to fix, and the faster and more the entire team learns. Operating in a trust-filled environment breaks down barriers and allows people to be more vulnerable.

Highly Effective Teams Debate Positively

A common misnomer about teams is that harmony is a good thing. At a core value level, yes, harmony is probably good. On the other hand, if all a team does is agree and go along to get along, this is a sign of trouble. Effective teams debate. Thanks to mutual trust, this debate is an invaluable exercise to flesh out ideas, concepts and strategies.

It may feel uncomfortable to argue, but that is why it is so important to create a safe, trusting environment. One good strategy to spur debate is to assign someone to play the Devil’s Advocate role during a discussion. Rotate the responsibility among team members as needed. Debating, challenging and defending ideas creates better ideas. To an outside observer it may seem like chaos or dissension, but for effective teams, it’s serious progress.

Highly Effective Teams are Mission-oriented

Great teams tend to be those that get pointed in the right direction early. Even when people are working on different aspects of a project, effective teams understand the end goal. They understand the mission. Habit 2 of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the End in Mind.” Covey was writing about making powerful changes for personal leadership, but the principle is still relevant to a team.

Bringing a team together to consider questions like, “What are we creating?” “How do we want to make a positive contribution to our organization?” “How will we change the world?” can be profound. Sometimes we limit ourselves unnecessarily. Teams that use this perspective to create a mission statement or are able to rally around an existing mission can achieve great things.

Highly Effective Teams get Results

This characteristic is multi-faceted. There is an underlying assumption that in order to be considered an effective team, there has to be positive results. The team has to hit its mark. This is true over the long run and is important to the sustainability of most organizations.

On the other hand, success is not always guaranteed, nor is it the best teacher. Effective teams do not over-celebrate their wins or get too low following a loss. Teams that take the time to study their results, good and bad, are able to learn and refine their recipe for success.

Highly Effective Teams have a Culture of Leadership

This subheading might be misleading. Effective teams don’t necessarily have to have a great leader. They work best in a culture of leadership. When team members are not worried about who gets the credit. When they go out of their way to serve each other. Teams that seek to learn and improve at all times. When a team has a culture of leadership, it is not about multiple team members trying to be the leader, it is about the team owning its work and supporting each other because they want the team to be more successful than any one individual.

Does Your Team Experience ALL of these Characteristics?

If you’d like to strengthen any or all of these areas within your team, contact one of our team development specialists at (800) 872-7830 for a free consultation. We have a number of solutions to help you develop a highly effective team!

What’s Your Workplace Culture Like?

What is your workplace culture like?When you think about your workplace, how would you describe it? Would you call it warm and inviting? Supportive? Encouraging? Does the atmosphere make it easy for your employees to grow their career? Perhaps your workplace is very accommodating to those staff members with families, like children and elderly parents, to work and take care of their loved ones at the same time. What you are describing is your workplace culture. Workplace culture is what your leaders believe in, what their management subscribes to, and the values that permeate throughout the entire staff. When an office’s workplace culture is good – that is, when it matches up with your own values as a leader – it can help your team work together seamlessly. Employees might think the work itself may be ho-hum, but they’d think twice before leaving, because the management and environment is great.

They feel safe and supported there, and they want to do the best for their boss. Because they know they’re working hard for the good of the company. Employees are at their best, and are productive, creative and innovative.
But when the workplace culture is bad – they dread going in to work, because frankly, they find the behavior there disruptive and frankly, tiring. They look for other jobs in their spare time. Whether you accept it or not, they’re not giving their job 100 percent.

How Does a Manager Create a Better Workplace Culture?

As a manager or a leader, your job is to make the workplace culture as positive and as inspiring as possible for your employees. Creating that culture takes time and energy, and it will take even more time for employees to get on board and get used to the new mentality.

But the rewards will be great. With a better workplace culture comes better engagement, better workplace attendance, greater productivity, and at the end, larger profits.

There are five degrees of workplace health. Read on to find out where you and your company rank:

  1. The first degree – and the lowest level – is dysfunction. Here, employees don’t trust each other or the boss, and work rarely gets done. When it does, the job is mediocre. The employees frequently call in sick and there will be high turnover. There is low morale here.
  2. The second degree is tension. There are disagreements between employees and the managers, and people talk about each other behind their backs. Attendance is slightly better than the dysfunctional level, but employees are actively searching for new jobs, and will jump ship at the first opportunity.
  3. The third degree is civility. Employees and managers get along, but they only barely tolerate each other. They treat each other with respect, and act professional, but don’t really like each other. They get by enough to get the job done, but employees would be hard pressed to say that they actually love their jobs.
  4. The fourth degree is acknowledgement. Employees and managers are thankful for each other and acknowledge each other on a job well done. Staff like each other and everyone is comfortable in their roles.
  5. The fifth degree – and this one is the highest – is validation. Leaders and managers acknowledge the hard work of staff, and give them challenges and responsibilities, which they love. There is a great deal of trust here, and employees are genuinely able to say that they love their jobs. There is room for growth and professional development, and rewards are far more than just monetary.

Which level does your workplace culture fall under?

Author Michelle Riklan: Michelle Riklan is an instructor specializing in workplace development. Call us at (800) 872-7830 to set up an appointment to consult with her.

How Do You Know it’s Time to Have a Teambuilding Event for Your Staff?

Teambuilding has gotten a bad rap in recent years for being ineffective, coddling, and plainly a waste of time.

Teambuilding Event for Your StaffBut with the rise of the Millennial generation in the workforce, along with increased widespread employee turnover and a renewed focus on employee engagement, many companies have been turning toward teambuilding activities to help establish and nurture trust and productivity within their teams. Some organizations make the mistake of implementing teambuilding activities to correct or solve employee behavior issues. Employee behaviors are certainly an indicator that a teambuilding event may be beneficial for your company, but under-performance or behavior issues are also asymptomatic of a larger circumstance at play. Leaders would be wise to implement teambuilding events before these kinds of behavior issues arise. But how do you know when the time is right to have a teambuilding event for your staff?

Below are a Few Ways to Know it’s Time to Have a Teambuilding Event for Your Staff

Below are a few workplace situations that may signal to leaders that a teambuilding event may be an effective way to proactively and intentionally build trust within their teams.

• A generationally diverse spectrum of workers. Millennials value meaningful work that balances with their personal lives, and appreciate recognition of their unique strengths and skill sets. They enjoy teamwork, collaboration, and an open and flexible work environment. This is very different than the Generation X and Baby Boomer generations, which accept that work is a necessary and independent function driven by competition, work ethic, and ladder-climbing.

These are obviously different viewpoints, which can cause workplace tension when they work closely together. A teambuilding activity can nurture understanding between these different groups.

• A recent hiring spree or growth spurt. Though trust is hard to get back once it’s been broken, with new team members, you have the chance to help employees build trust with one another from the outset. A steep influx of new team members within a company can cause an us-versus-them mentality or cliques. More senior team members can also become annoyed with having to answer questions, train or onboard several new team members at once.

Proactively setting up teambuilding events where newer and older employees learn more about each other’s different work styles, strengths, and personalities will help to create a supportive and understanding culture.

• A company restructuring or rebranding. Big organizational changes can make workers uneasy or nervous about where they will fit within the new identity of the company. To help team members see company changes as a positive, teambuilding events are the perfect morale booster and a way to solidify goals and values for the new face of the organization.

Employees, especially millennial generations, enjoy having a voice in the direction the company is going. Use teambuilding events in these situations to re-evaluate company initiatives, services, and product offerings, team processes, and key performance indicators. Transparency and openness go a long way toward uniting a team under common goals.

• An increase in your remote workforce or more flexibility in schedules. According to a recent report by WorldatWork, telework or remote work (in some form) is now offered by 88 percent of organizations, and is growing steadily each year. While this renewed flexibility is a huge benefit for many workers, it also can create feelings of isolation and decreased engagement.

Technological connections, email, and instant messaging replace many face-to-face meetings in these kinds of environments. This is why an in-person teambuilding activity can be a refreshing way to help team members nurture relationships with co-workers they may not see on a daily basis.

There are many ways to approach teambuilding activities with your team, but in every case, a proactive strategy is always best. Keeping an eye out for these situations will help you identify when a teambuilding event for your staff makes sense, increasing morale, collaboration, and performance.

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