Four Essential Areas of Focus in a Powerful Team Building Workshop

Bill Resh  |  October 2, 2012
last updated

Communication Is a Key to TeamworkThere are many ways to define a successful team, but what are some of the primary components of good teams? How can these be reinforced in team building workshops? A top-four list of focus areas should include communication, listening to others, problem-solving, and cooperation.

Focus Area #1: Communication Among and Between Team Members.

It has been said that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts when it comes to team effort. A successful team building workshop will help illustrate the importance of group sharing. When there is an atmosphere of encouragement, where all voices are brought into the discussion, an amazing thing happens. New ideas to old problems and unique solutions come forth. There needs to be an assumption that all ideas and opinions are valued and from these come team success. Useful team building activities will place the participants into small teams where the dynamics of this type of communications can “play out”.

Focus Area #2: Listening to the Ideas of Others.

Secondly, teams need to exercise good listening skills. In other words, are we “Really listening” to what others say? It’s one thing to have an opportunity to share. The question is, “is anyone listening?” We are all guilty at times of practicing selective listening and filtering out what we don’t want to hear or what we deem unimportant. When that happens, the messages that the team may need the most are effectively silenced. Team building activities that point out this flaw in listening can really enhance the overall communicative power of the group. Sue Patton Thoele speaks on this topic, “Deep listening is miraculous for both the listener and the speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.” I might add that the whole team effort expands as well.

Focus Area #3: Get the Teams to Work Together to Solve a Common Challenge.

Powerful team building programs will immerse the participants in situations that allow them to overcome problems and come up with solutions as a team. In a sense, the team activity should mirror real-life situations. In every life, some rain will fall. For every team, problems will crop up, often erupt. Successful race car driver Sebastien Bourdais said that “It’s a team… they give you everything you need to be successful, if there is a problem, they work and work and work until it is solved”.

How teams deal with the problems spells the difference between the better teams and the failing teams. The better teams employ good communication and listening skills and work together to solve the problems. This some time will require a dogged determination and perseverance to “try new solutions”. Undeterred when these do not always succeed, new ideas are encouraged and some are tried. Eventually, the successful teams solve the dilemma and move on to new challenges.

Focus Area #4: Reinforce Cooperation Versus Competition.

Finally, you will find that great team building sessions will create conditions where small groups can work together and see first-hand how cooperation brings their efforts to a successful conclusion. Perhaps there are vast differences in skill sets and temperaments among the team members. Instead of being a divisive feature, these differences can be seen and used as integral parts of the overall effort.

Cooperation assumes that we all need to play a role. The Bible speaks of the diversity of roles in this manner, “The eye cannot say to the hand that ‘I have no need of you’ “. No, there is an important job for each team member to do and when they all cooperate in doing their part good things usually will happen.

So in summary, when a company or manager is seeking a team building program that will have valuable content, it should focus on some or all of these areas. There should be exercises to promote better communications and also listening skills. The group should learn how to persevere in group problem-solving situations, and finally, a spirit of cooperation should be fostered. In the final analysis, the program should cause the team to work on the areas that will help them be a great “Team”.

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “7 Valuable Ways to Build a Cooperative Team“.

author Bill Resh
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Bill Resh is an instructor for The Leader's Institute ®, and he is based in the Charlotte, North Carolina Region. He is a specialist in custom team building activities.
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