Leadership Blog

Getting “Personal” with Team Building

Team Building Meetings are an opportunity to get away and grow together, but “how” to guide the meeting is easier said than done.  The quality of a Team Building meeting is dependent on the preparation by the leader and the personal relationships within the team.  Several Best Practices and Principles are summarized here in a slightly different framework than before to help leaders:

Best Principles

1. The objective is to work better together by building the trust, the team, and relationships around the goals, roles, and plans.
2. These meetings to get away and think must be a disciplined part of the culture that is regularly scheduled. Otherwise, you’re just hamsters running on a wheel and you’ll never get personal enough.
3. Everyone must be united in purpose, always respectful, open, and confidential when appropriate.
4. It is OK to be passionate and have a constructive debate.  There can be no hidden agendas that undermine the trust.
5. Leaders must remember all teams have these questions on their minds:

• What are your expectations?
• Can we trust you? Do you trust me?
• Do you do what is right for the company, for the team, and for us individually?
• Can you make me a better “me”?
• Are you more concerned about “We”, or “I”?

Building Teams

Building Teams

Best Practice

1. The leader must strategically plan the agenda for what most helps the team.  Deciding an agenda at the last minute doesn’t work.
2. If the team digresses onto a “healthy” tangent, that is OK.
3. The 3-Questions of Expectations are a must for new teams. (Blog http://frontlinefocus.us/?p=1351)
4. Round Robin Questions are great for established teams. (Blog http://frontlinefocus.us/?p=1387)
5. Team Building Meetings are an expectation of every manager and a condition of employment.
6. Every manager is trained in “how to” lead Team Building Meetings, with the teams also trained in “how to” participate.
7. Recommended frequency is monthly for operations, quarterly for staff.  Duration is max one hour.
8. A Leader’s deliberate follow-up after the meeting ensures commitments are understood and delivered.
9. Leading Team Building Meetings is a line-item on the Performance Appraisal.
10. The facilitator keeps meetings flowing in the right direction, stimulates participation, and keeps conversations respectful.
11. “Hard” subjects about the work process and “Soft” subjects about relationships are kept in separate meetings.

High-Quality Team Building is a competitive advantage and Best Practice of World-Class businesses.  It gets personal, uniting the team in purpose and opening them up to healthy disagreements.  The result is a high-quality teamwork environment.

Make it a great week! …And Pass It On!

Quote from the late great Football Coach Bud Wilkinson: “If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team.”

Team Building Builds Business

Team Building Builds Business

Posted in Culture, Leadership & Management | 3 Comments

Team Building Makes $$ !

Orders had dropped off.  Inventory had built to unhealthy levels, and we needed to take plant production days out.  Having exhausted all other tactics to scale back, we began looking at reduced schedules involving temporary and rotating layoffs of 2,000 employees.  Then, the executive team came up with the idea to bring next quarter’s training and team building meetings forward.  The responsibility was there anyway, so why not do it earlier and reduce future liability?  Yes, the question, “how do we pay for this?” was clearly on our mind, but our analysis showed a financial payback.

Shutting the plant down for three days, we focused the natural work groups on the theme, “Building the Team, Building the Trust, Building Tomorrow.”  All planned training for compliance, operations, and technology was also brought forward.

The result? … The next quarter, every business metric exceeded expectations! Frontline attitudes and teamwork soared.  And when Sales improved to support the increased production, we were off to the races.  The plan worked, and the improvements were sustained.  As momentum continued to build, we realized that we could link the performance gains directly back to the team building event.  Team Building made money!

This event, along with hundreds of other team building meetings, validated the positive effect of a systematic and planned team building process.  Time and again, I have seen planned team building correlating directly with improved results.

Most team building is done on the frontline during the daily business dynamics with a leader’s example, coaching, and communications.  Planned Team Building adds that extra component to glue the team together, increase understanding, and solidify relationships.  This is not a locker room pep talk at half-time but a time between games where the team goes to deeper levels to connect relationships, purpose, and plans.  It gets personal.  It gets results.

Team Building starts with the leader being a great example, and is brought to full potential with deliberate Team Building events …and when done properly, it makes money!

Make it a great week! …And Pass It On!

Quote from Coach K of Duke University: “Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”

Team Building Makes $!

Team Building Makes $$!

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