This blog series looks at how you, as a manager transitioning into a new department or team, can use the opportunity of the transition to foster stronger teams.
The first post served as an introduction to why having stronger teams will help you be more effective as a manager. We promote the idea of real teams that are aligned with the business goals you are tackling.
The second post introduced 3 team processes that you can use to assess your team and start building it into a stronger, more aligned team. These activities were:
1) Conduct a Team Assessment
2) Align with the Team Sponsor Expectations
3) Convene a Team Charter Workshop
The third post highlighted 4 more team processes for building your team. These activities were:
4) Establish Clear Goals and Roles
5) Review and Update Team Processes
6) Working with Remote Staff: Face to Face Workshops
7) Working with Remote Staff: Virtual Workshops
Today’s post introduces the final three activities that we will introduce in this series.
8) Experiential learning/team building
There is a place and role for the traditional ‘team building’ events. Their purpose is to place the members of the team in a challenging situation, in which they have to solve problems that have a parallel to the sorts of problems they face on a daily basis. By working on issues in a ‘safe’ context, the team gets to explore how well it did, and can identify lessons to improve how it can approach its ‘real’ work.
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It is advisable to work with a professional facilitator. In addition to certain activities requiring expert guidance for reasons of safety and security, you will want to engage in activities that will really stretch the team in how it thinks of itself and builds its capacity. You also want to avoid ‘games’ that might undermine the serious work of building the team into a stronger and more cohesive unit.
Such team building processes can be integrated with other Team Learning Activities, such as Team Charter meetings or Goal and Roles workshops.
A less common team development event is to participate in a service learning program. The team visits a community where it can contribute something that will benefit the community (such as the team’s labor to help construct houses or rehabilitate schools and clinics). In exchange, the team members engage in meaningful work that is valued by their hosts.
The Service Learning experience provides the team with a memorable experience – not only are bonds within the team strengthened, but links between your organization and the wider communities are built.
An immersion program is an opportunity for members of the team to spend time with local families and communities. Such programs have been used by a growing number of companies, especially those with a global market, as a way for their staff to have a deeper appreciation of the context in which people live in a particular country, and to experience the multiple versatile ways in which people develop resilient ways of dealing with daily challenges.
One way members of a team can participate in such an immersion experience is to spend a weekend staying in a poor community, hosted by local families (the visit may well be coordinated through an NGO or community organization with ties in the area). Team members participate in the regular daily activities of their hosts. At the end of the weekend, the team and their hosts can gather to reflect on the experience.
While a team does not spend time during the Immersion Program discussing its purpose and goals, the visit can play a significant role in a common experience that binds team members together.
We have now introduced 10 different activities that you can use and adapt to help your team become more effective. Some of them can work well as stand-alone activities, while others will have more impact if they are paired with other activities. Some of the discussions can be handled by the team working by itself, while other activities will benefit greatly from the support of a professional facilitator.
Contact us to learn more about how one of our professional facilitators can work with you, or to find out how to be connected to someone in our broader network of professional facilitators around the world.