When people are asked to recall peak career moments, their answers tend to fall into two categories. One consists of moments when the person's star shone bright. That's understandable. But the other category is less expected. It consists of experiences of having been a high-performance team member.
These accounts reveal that real team membership feels good. It fulfills our innate human need to belong, to create meaning, and to contribute. But it's also a rare experience, even though real teams outperform groups of individuals time and again. Perhaps this explains why anyone who's been on a high-performance team never forgets it, and longs to be part of a real team again.
What is team building?
Above all, team building is an involved, multifaceted, long-term process. It's a program, not a tactic or event. It is an unfortunate and unacknowledged fact that so-called team building events don't improve team performance unless they're part of an ongoing team development strategy.
Real team building also requires performance-based assessment, and the measures need to be clear, purposeful, relevant, and outcome- rather than activity-based. The bottom line is that team building takes time, because a group can only become a team through sustained, disciplined action. So to make teams pay off, the organization needs to support team development on an ongoing basis.
Functional team building
We use a functional team building approach, which means the focus is on making performance gains that actually transfer to the work setting. The endgame is to improve team effectiveness in specific, quantifiable ways, which requires that:
A. Baseline performance be measured along one or more dimensions.
B. Performance be reassessed in the future to gage progress.
C. Measures relate to actual work the team does (functional metrics).
Our team building programs improve performance by realigning one or more of the following team factors:
- Team strategy
- Team structure & composition
- Team process
- Work-specific knowledge, skills, & behaviors (KSBs)
- Human factors (physical & environmental)
- Group dynamics
Some of these factors are best addressed in offsite events. Others require team development in the work setting. Our goal is to leverage the client investment by determining the most promising area(s) to improve first.