Team work and team building essentials

Team building skills are critical for your effectiveness as a manager or entrepreneur. And even if you are not in a management or leadership role yet, better understanding of team work can make you a more effective employee and give you an extra edge in your corporate office.

A team building success is when your team can accomplish something much bigger and work more effectively than a group of the same individuals working on their own. You have a strong synergy of individual contributions. But there are two critical factors in building a high performance team.

The first factor in team effectiveness is the diversity of skills and personalities. When people use their strengths in full, but can compensate for each other's weaknesses. When different personality types balance and complement each other.

The other critical element of team work success is that all the team efforts are directed towards the same clear goals, the team goals. This relies heavily on good communication in the team and the harmony in member relationships.

In real life, team work success rarely happens by itself, without focused team building efforts and activities. There is simply too much space for problems. For example, different personalities, instead of complementing and balancing each other, may build up conflicts. Or even worse, some people with similar personalities may start fighting for authority and dominance in certain areas of expertise. Even if the team goals are clear and accepted by everyone, there may be no team commitment to the group goals or no consensus on the means of achieving those goals: individuals in the team just follow their personal opinions and move in conflicting directions. There may be a lack of trust and openness that blocks the critical communication and leads to loss of coordination in the individual efforts. And on and on. This is why every team needs a good leader who is able to deal with all such team work issues.

Here are some additional team building ideas, techniques, and tips you can try when managing teams in your situation.

  • Make sure that the team goals are totally clear and completely understood and accepted by each team member.
  • Make sure there is complete clarity in who is responsible for what and avoid overlapping authority. For example, if there is a risk that two team members will be competing for control in certain area, try to divide that area into two distinct parts and give each more complete control in one of those parts, according to those individual's strengths and personal inclinations.
  • Build trust with your team members by spending one-on-one time in an atmosphere of honesty and openness. Be loyal to your employees, if you expect the same.

  • Allow your office team members build trust and openness between each other in team building activities and events. Give them some opportunities of extra social time with each other in an atmosphere that encourages open communication. For example in a group lunch on Friday. Though be careful with those corporate team building activities or events in which socializing competes too much with someone's family time.
  • For issues that rely heavily on the team consensus and commitment, try to involve the whole team in the decision making process. For example, via group goal setting or group sessions with collective discussions of possible decision options or solution ideas. What you want to achieve here is that each team member feels his or her ownership in the final decision, solution, or idea. And the more he or she feels this way, the more likely he or she is to agree with and commit to the decided line of action, the more you build team commitment to the goals and decisions.
  • When managing teams, make sure there are no blocked lines of communications and you and your people are kept fully informed.

    Even when your team is spread over different locations, you can still maintain effective team communication. Just do your meetings online and slash your travel costs. Click here for a free test drive.

  • Be careful with interpersonal issues. Recognize them early and deal with them in full.
  • Don't miss opportunities to empower your employees. Say thank you or show appreciation of an individual team player's work.

  • Don't limit yourself to negative feedback. Be fare. Whenever there is an opportunity, give positive feedback as well.

Finally, though team work and team building can offer many challenges, the pay off from a high performance team is well worth it.

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