Maybe you feel that your team needs to perform more effectively, or the team is facing a new task which requires new ways of working together. Or perhaps youíre working with a newly formed team and you want everyone to get a head start in their way of working and communicating with each other. A one or two day teambuilding programme can help them to get to know each other in a different way, develop effective group behaviour and learn how to communicate and give feedback more effectively. In short, a team in trouble can become a great team instead.
Groups (teams/departments/organisations) can get stuck in their ways just like individuals do. They have adopted habits that were useful in the past and may still be useful in certain ways, but these habits get in the way of change. Thatís why change hardly ever succeeds by just changing rules and procedures.
My work with groups is essentially the same as working with individuals. Together, we explore where we are now, where we want to go and what holds us back from getting there. The obstacles may lie in the group itself or in the environment; most of the time they are present in both. And however satisfying for the short term, complaining about the environment will not take us where we want to go. Instead we will explore the groupís strengths and weaknesses in how they communicate and work together and how they connect with their environment. Then we will work out how the group can benefit most from its strengths and overcome its weaknesses.
Underlying the more obvious strengths and weaknesses, the group will discover the behavioural patterns that strengthen them and hold them back. These may include group dynamics, formation of subgroups, informal hierarchy, lack of open feedback and communication, etc. Discovering the underlying dynamics may prove to be confrontational. One very important condition for the teambuilding process is a safe environment, where group members can feel free to express their feelings and thoughts, and to experiment with new group behaviour during the course of the programme.
How does it work?
First of all, an intake session with the manager or HR officer will take place in which his/her views on the team will be discussed as well as the aim and goal of the teambuilding programme. In this session, the general outline of the programme will be decided upon. On the basis of this preliminary session, a concise written proposal will be formulated, including goals, number of sessions, methods and activities and foreseen outcome of the programme. The preliminary session and the concise proposal is free of charge.
The programme may consist of:
- Preliminary interviews with all or some of the team members
- Workshop sessions, preferably outside the office
- Individual or (sub)group assignments in-between sessions, of which the outcome will be presented to the plenary group in the next session
- Discuss challenges and focus issues
- Discuss/decide on new team (sub)goals
- Work out new strategies
- Work on subgroup or plenary group assignments
- Discuss and reflect on group behaviour
- Develop new work procedures (formal as well as informal)
- Practice new group behaviour
- Decide on (sub)group assignment for next session
The in-between (sub)group assignments are essential for the teambuilding programme to be successful. Unless the group actually incorporates the new group behaviour and work procedures, the change will not be lasting. The organisation (management) should also be aware that the behavioural changes in one team will affect the other teams in the organisation. As the team will start to show their new behaviour (team is more cooperative, more assertive, more communicative) their environment may react in ways that cannot always be predicted. Sufficient aftercare for the team and attention to the rest of the organisation is recommended.