The word “Teambuilding” alone is enough to get some rolling their eyes and checking their calendar for a scheduling conflict. And while many of our first thoughts of teambuilding go to a comical episode of The Office or a YouTube video of an exercise gone wrong, the process of teambuilding, in whatever form it takes, is an invaluable tool in establishing and fostering trust, communication, and creativity that helps teams reach and sustain high performance. The question often becomes, “How do we know when to embark on teambuilding?” Teams come in a variety of shapes and sizes, working on everything from short-term projects to long-term programs, and there is the vexing difference between newly-created teams and long-established teams. For those in a leadership position, it may be useful to keep an eye out for some of the 5 signs indicating that your team needs a teambuilding event.
Five (5) Signs Indicating Your Team Needs a Teambuilding Event
New Band Members, Same Name and Songs
People end up coming and going from teams. It is downright difficult to keep a team together for a significant period of time. Not all teams are meant to operate long-term, but for the ones that are (or do), it is a given that some turnover will occur. People will move on to new roles, responsibilities, and organizations. In a lot of cases, they are backfilled and trained so well, the operation doesn’t miss a beat in the near-term. But just like a hit band who’s had to replace some of the original members, sometimes it’s just not the same. It may be the same name and songs, but the band has changed. New faces and perspectives can be tremendous assets, but it’s important to keep in mind that new team members will likely have different preferences for communication, working, and productivity. Sometimes it takes teambuilding to recognize what new members are bringing to the team and appreciate that they aren’t just filling a previously-occupied role.
There are several attributes that great teams share; almost always rising to the top of that short list is trust among team members. It’s not easy to come by; it can be a long and laborious road to establish it, and a short painful one to destroy it. Trust can also erode over time if it’s not maintained. While it’s unlikely that a half-day teambuilding event, or even a weekend retreat, can establish trust between strangers or adversaries, it can be a great jumping off point. Trust is earned over time, but when it’s lacking, starting the dialogue is an important first step.
Teams carry so much inherent potential, it’s exciting. What’s interesting about teams is that they rarely get brought together to tackle anything easy. After all, if it were easy, it would have already been done. For a team to effectively take on important work, it needs diverse ideas, thoughts and perspectives. Team members have to understand their responsibility to speak up and offer differences of ideas and opinions. If a team gets a case of groupthink, where everyone goes along to get along, or debate is stifled, team members may be doing a disservice and it’s probably time to remind the team why it exists and how it can best operate.
Communication & Collaboration
Have you ever searched the Internet for “team communication tools”? The number of services and products offered is staggering and at the same time telling. Communication is key for team success and successful collaboration, but it is difficult to achieve. Services offering chat features, file sharing, video conferencing, and the like are tremendous tools, but that’s only half the battle. If a team still isn’t communicating and collaborating effectively or to the extent necessary, it’s the people, not the service. Investing the time and energy to improve communication and collaboration will guarantee more long-term success than the best product on the market.
Loss of Focus
Maintaining focus on a mission or objective is one of the most important factors to any organization’s success. The problem is that in many situations people get busy with work or life or the day-to-day noise and lose sight of the greater cause. To some extent it’s natural not to talk about the mission constantly, but culturally and in reality, it should be at the heart of everything. That mission or objective is probably the greatest rallying point a team can have. When team members begin paying too much attention to outside distractions, or start looking beyond or around the objective, don’t hesitate to remind or re-focus a team on that ultimate mission or goal.
Teambuilding is an important and necessary part of leadership. Giving team members the resources to perform at their best includes recognizing when the team may not be hitting on all cylinders. Spending time time to get to know each other again, improve communication and collaboration, or to re-focus on what matters can be a small investment that has big ROI in terms of team productivity and performance.