Team building has been much maligned in the HR community for a multitude of reasons, the main being lack of measurable ROI. So do team building workshops really work or is just good money down the proverbial drain? To answer this, let us start by looking at how team building workshops are normally organized. In a lot of organizations, team building is considered as a “Fun Day”, where you can let your hair down and act like a kid. For many off-sites spread over multiple days, it takes on the role of gap filler more than a developmental activity. If the manner of execution for team building is similar to what is described above, then it is very likely that the team does not move forward an inch in their development. There needs to be a clear distinction between “Fun Day” and Team Building. While a fun day might be a good way to recharge drained batteries with en element of humor and fun, team building should be undertaken for a clear set of definable objectives. For the time being let us assume that we manage to do that part of program design and execution well; your team has done a great team building workshop where they had fun and also touched upon some of the developmental areas which needed to be worked on. What next for the team?
Here are some things you could do post a team building program to keep the team camaraderie going.
1. Informal team audit –
This could be a good way to gauge the current atmosphere in the team and get a fix on the areas to be focused on for team development going forward. This would be the starting point of a long term intervention aimed at team development. The execution of the same could be through a team questionnaire which can be administered informally with the team that identifies the key developmental areas for the team.
2.Network Analysis –
Source: Wikimedia Commons
A simple way to analyze the communication patterns within the team, to get a feel of “Who is talking to who/Who is not talking to who.” This could give the team leader/HR indicators on which individuals to focus on for the next team development sessions.
3. Defining Success:
Sometimes this simple step is ignored by teams and organizations. If there is a team which needs to work cohesively to achieve certain goals, it is imperative that everyone in the team is aligned on these goals. It might not be a bad practice to take some time out with the team to talk about the team goals, to ensure that all team members are on the same page.
4. Define Failure:
This can be an eye opener for a lot of teams, especially those who work in their own silos within the larger teams. The implication or “What if” questions –“ What are the implications for the business if we do not work as a team?” can throw up some startling revelations. Often, individuals in the team are so caught up in their own worlds, that they do not even realize the detrimental effect that their actions might be having on overall team performance.
5. Celebrate team successes –
Easier said than done! At the start of every calendar year, this is one of the things that most managers promise themselves they will improve on for the coming year, but somewhere down the line; it slowly gets pushed down the priority list amidst busy schedules and in the treadmill of corporate life. These are the small team dinners/lunches, which we keep postponing, thinking”Oh, this will mean 3-4 hours of time wasted for everyone. Let us do it later!” In more occasions than not, the “later” never comes and slowly this becomes a top priority item again in next year’s New Year resolutions for the manager!
There are many more action items which we can pen down for looking at team development, including the subsequent learning interventions, but without setting some fundamentals in place, those are likely to fizzle out at the starting point itself. So where does a team building workshop fit in with all this? A team building workshop, if executed well, is a great way to catalyze behavioral changes and serve as an eye opener to most individuals in the team, if not all. But it needs to be followed up with actions, like some listed above and many more, within the team to create an environment for team work. Otherwise the team building exercise is likely to end up as another of the “Let us do it, but don’t ask me why!” activities in the corporate calendar!
Do share your thoughts/comments as well.