Fundamentals of Teambuilding

As we identified ourselves as Adventure Learning facilitators whom organize and customize Teambuilding programmes on a regular basis, I came to realization that our learning curve here though steep, carries a very different model of learning. The current model of learning requires On-The-Job Trainees to experience the different elements of a programme before undergoing a deeper understanding of theoretical models and the rationale, needs and uses of these models; this begs the understanding of the general concepts developed by social scientists and how we should apply these concepts into our daily programmes, and if so, which of these concepts are more relevant to us.

Teambuilding is defined as the process of utilising various methods of interventions that are targeted at enhancing social relations and clarifying team members’ roles with the ultimate objective of increasing efficiency and effectiveness in achieving the organisation’s objectives, mission and vision.

Traditionally, these activities usually assign tasks to different members of the team to solve through collaborative means. Teambuilding activities are deliberately structured to surface interpersonal problems that affect functionality of the team and while facilitating this process could address current and potential issues; it also carries the possibility to resolve these issues as well.

Teambuilding, as according to Klein is commonly used for group development interventions in organizations today. Of all organizational interventions, team-development interventions were found to have the largest effects on financial measures of organizational performance.

Team building generally sits within the theory and practice of organizational development; it could be employed in many organisations or non-formal organisations and is applicable to sports teams, school groups, armies, flight crews and other contexts. Although past literature has raised many issues on the conceptual definition and understanding of team building, there is now, consensus and conceptual clarity about what team building is composed of. Its four components are:

  • - Goal setting: Aligning around goals
  • - Interpersonal-relationship management: Building effective working relationships
  • - Role clarification: Reducing team members’ role ambiguity
  • - Problem solving: Finding solutions to team problems

 

Goal setting refers to a form of intervention that emphasizes on setting objectives and developing individual and team goals. Team members become involved in action planning to identify ways to achieve goals. It is designed to strengthen team member motivation to achieve team goals and objectives. By identifying specific outcome levels, teams can determine what future resources are needed. With a clear action plan and objectives, resources would be more focus on achieving the specific objectives. Individual characteristics (e.g. team member motivation) can also be altered by use of this intervention. Successful goal settings help the teams to work towards the same outcomes and make them more task and action oriented.

The second component, role clarification refers to a form of intervention that emphasizes increasing communication among team members regarding their respective roles within the team and identifying their individual roles and possible contributions. Team members improve their understanding of their own and others’ respective roles and duties within the team. It includes an understanding of the talent that exists on the team, and how best to use it, and allows members to understand why clear roles are important. The members should also realize that they are interdependent and the failure of one team member leads to the failure of the entire team.

Problem solving is a form of intervention which emphasizes identifying major task-related problems within the team. Team members become involved in action planning, implementing solutions to problems identified, and evaluating those solutions. Problem Solving, as a form of intervention is also critical as it requires the team to self-diagnose and self reliant. If teams are good in problem-solving skills, they are less likely to need external interventions to solve their problems and in the future, much more cost efficient.

Interpersonal relations management refers to the intervention which emphasizes increasing teamwork skills (i.e. communication, open sharing and mutual understanding). This intervention is to help team members develop trust in one another and increase confidence in the team. It requires the use of a facilitator or a third party to develop mutual trust and open communication between team members. As team members achieve higher levels of trust, cooperation and team characteristics can be changed as well.

In other words, a Teambuilding session must be able to address at least 1 of these components, or in part, able to subtly suggest or surface probable underlying conflicts or in the very least, suggest propensity towards resolving situations or conflicts lying within the environment of team building.

Klein, C., Diazgranados, D., Salas, E., Le, H., Burke, C. S., Lyons, R. & Goodwin, G. F. 2009, Does Team Building work?. Small Group Research

Salas, E., Diazgranados, D., Klein, C., Burke, C. S., Stagl, K. C., Goodwin, G. F., & Halpin, S. M. (2009, 12). Does Team Training Improve Team Performance? A Meta-Analysis. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 50(6), 903-933. doi: 10.1518/001872008X375009

To lead an orchestra, you must turn your back against the audience.

People in your organisation are not sugarcane, they are your trees. You are the gardener, while your job is to facilitate their growth while they are your biggest assets.

Team building differs from team training in a number of ways, it is not necessarily formal or systematic in nature; it does not necessarily target skill-based competencies, and is generally conducted in settings that are not in the actual environment where the team conducts its day-to-day operations.

Team building core principles

Among the 4 components, it would seem that the easiest component one can manage on his/her own to the biggest extent would be arguable interpersonal relationship management. While in a team setting, strong and positive interpersonal relationship management might not surface strong return on investment, it is more than necessary for a team to run in the long run.

In Stephen M.R. Convery’s book “The Speed of Trust”, he theorizes that trust always affect two outcomes, namely speed and cost.  economics of trust in which more trust equals to less speed and less cost.

While team building doesn’t necessarily defines as building up the individual’s competency in his/her skills set to increase the productivity of the team; it does however, requires each individual to contribute their strengths (and plausibly individual’s weakness as well) to complement the rest of the team.

Trust and its importance in the process of Team building

4 components, of which, the most xxxxx is : Interpersonal – relationship management

There are 2 types of trust in a work place: Namely, trust in your competency and trust in your character. Cost of trust is xxxxx, and interpersonal relationship is built on this trust.
Prove that social emotional learning will help interpersonal –relationship management.

These team-development interventions have proven to have positive effects on cognitive and effective processes and performance team outcomes.

While team building doesn’t necessarily defines as building up the individual’s competency in his/her skills set to increase the productivity of the team; it does however, requires each individual to contribute their strengths (and plausibly individual’s weakness as well) to complement the rest of the team. More importantly, it requires each individual to be socially aware of their personal and team mates’ strengths and weakness. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org), Social and Emotional Learning core competencies are made up of five interrelated sets of cognitive and behavioral competencies; namely, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

Self awareness refers to the ability to recognize and detect one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behaviour while accurately assessing his/her strengths and limitations and possessing a well grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

Self-management refers to the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations; including managing one’s stress, impulses and motivation while working towards his/her goal.

Social Awareness refers to the ability to empathise with other’s perspective while understanding the social and ethical norms of behaviours of other cultures.

Relationship skills refer to the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals including a strong ability to communicate clearly and negotiate constructively and seeking and offering help when needed.

Responsible decision making refers to the ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behaviour and social interactions under the consideration of ethical standards, societal norms, well-being of others and consequences.

Increasing the key domains of Social and emotional skills would increase interpersonal-relationship management.

There are five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioural competencies in SEL and they are clustered as five key domains of social and emotional skills.

Key Domains of Social and Emotional Skills

Description

Self Awareness Identifying and recognising emotions
Accurate self-perception
Recognising strengths, needs and values
Self-efficacy
Spirituality
Social Awareness Perspective taking
Empathy
Appreciating diversity
Respect for others
Self Management Impulse control and stress management
Self-motivation and discipline
Goal setting and organisational skills
Relationship Management Communication, social engagement and building relationships
Working cooperatively
Negotiation, refusal and conflict management
Seeking and providing help
Responsible Decision Making Problem identification and situation analysis
Problem solving
Evaluation and reflection
Personal, moral and ethical responsibility

 

Team building was originally a group process intervention aimed at improving interpersonal relations and social interactions. Over time, this activity has developed to address best practices for achieving results, meeting goals and accomplishing tasks. It refers to the activities in which teams can engage to change their context, composition or team competencies to improve performance. It is distinct from team training, which is also a team-development intervention that is designed to improve team functioning and effectiveness.

Team building differs from team training in a number of ways. Team building is not necessarily formal or systematic in nature, does not target skill-based competencies, and is typically done in settings that are not in the actual environment where the team works on the task.

Team building generally sits within the theory and practice of organizational development, but can also be applied to sports teams, school groups, armies, flight crews and other contexts. There have been many issues in past literature about the conceptual definition of team building. However, now there is consensus and conceptual clarity about what team building constitutes. Its four components are:

  • - Goal setting: Aligning around goals
  • - Interpersonal-relationship management: Building effective working relationships
  • - Role clarification: Reducing team members’ role ambiguity
  • - Problem solving: Finding solutions to team problems

 

These team-development interventions have proven to have positive effects on cognitive and effective processes and performance team outcomes. Team building has seen the strongest effect on effective and process outcomes. According to Klein et al. (2009), team building is one of the most widely used group development interventions in organizations today. Of all organizational interventions, team-development interventions were found to have the largest effects on financial measures of organizational performance.Recent meta-analyses show that team development activities, including team building and team training, improve both a team’s objective performance and supervisory subjective ratings on performance.

 

The four approaches

The following are a summary of the four approaches as described by Salas and his team:

- Goal setting: this intervention emphasizes setting objectives and developing individual and team goals. Team members become involved in action planning to identify ways to achieve goals. It is designed to strengthen team member motivation to achieve team goals and objectives. By identifying specific outcome levels, teams can determine what future resources are needed. Individual characteristics (e.g. team member motivation) can also be altered by use of this intervention. Many organizations insist on teams negotiating a team charter between the team and responsible managers (and union leaders) to empower the team to accomplish things on behalf of the organization. Successful goal settings help the teams to work towards the same outcomes and make them more task and action oriented.

- Role clarification: this intervention emphasizes increasing communication among team members regarding their respective roles within the team. Team members improve their understanding of their own and others’ respective roles and duties within the team. This intervention defines the team as comprising a set of overlapping roles. These overlapping roles are characterized as the behaviors that are expected of each individual team member. It can be used to improve team and individual characteristics (i.e. by reducing role ambiguity) and work structure by negotiating, defining, and adjusting team member roles. It includes an understanding of the talent that exists on the team, and how best to use it, and allows members to understand why clear roles are important. The members should also realize that they are interdependent and the failure of one team member leads to the failure of the entire team.

- Problem solving: this intervention emphasizes identifying major task-related problems within the team. Team members become involved in action planning, implementing solutions to problems identified, and evaluating those solutions. They practice setting goals, developing interpersonal relations, clarifying team roles, and working to improve organizational characteristics through problem-solving tasks. This can have the added benefit of enhancing critical-thinking skills. If teams are good in problem-solving skills, they are less likely to need external interventions to solve their problems.

- Interpersonal relations management: this intervention emphasizes increasing teamwork skills (i.e. mutual supportiveness, communication and sharing of feelings). Team members develop trust in one another and confidence in the team. This is based on the assumption that teams with fewer interpersonal conflicts function more effectively than teams with greater numbers of interpersonal conflicts. It requires the use of a facilitator to develop mutual trust and open communication between team members. As team members achieve higher levels of trust, cooperation and team characteristics can be changed as well.

Written by Damien TEONG (Facilitator)