Five steps to meaningful teambuilding

posted in: All, Team Development | 2
Teambuilding.

What do you think of when you see or hear that word? In my experience, the idea of teambuilding generates mixed responses: some people dread it, some are elated, and others fall everywhere in-between these extremes. Why such varied responses? When I ask people about their experiences with teambuilding I find that while most have extremely positive experiences, some unfortunately do not. What makes the difference?

Here are five ways to make your next teambuilding event both memorable and meaningful:

Teambuilding goals

  1. Set goals. Be clear about what you are intending to achieve through teambuilding activities. Is this event just about getting to know each other and build camaraderie? Or do you want something more? Goals such as improved communication or decision-making can be effectively addressed with teambuilding activities using experiential learning methods.
  2. Sequence teambuilding activities appropriately for the group. A new team that is just beginning to work together will need a different sequence, and perhaps different activities altogether, than a cohesive team that has been working together for awhile.
  3. Challenge by choice. Growth and learning happen when we are outside of our comfort zones – up to a point! If participants are pushed too far out of their comfort zones they are likely to withdraw completely. Be clear that participants always have a choice in how they participate. Ensure that activities are designed to accommodate a wide range of comfort levels among participants.
  4. Don’t skip the debrief! Effective debriefing following an activity allows participants to make meaning from their experience. This is when they are most likely to make connections between the lessons learned during the activity and their real-world situations. Without this step, a teambuilding activity may be enjoyable and memorable, but lack meaning.Teambuilding reflection
  5. Incorporate individual reflection. Set aside time for quiet reflection and journaling. Add focus to reflection by posing a thoughtful question that encourages participants to think about their experiences at a deeper level.

 

In your own experience with teambuilding events, what has made them meaningful for you?

Expand Your Comfort Zone

posted in: All, Change, Learning | 0

“Comfort zones are often expanded through discomfort.” – Mimi Solaire

Why would you want to expand your comfort zone? The comfort zone. It’s a safe place, probably one in which you feel confident. You know what to expect, how to behave. One might conclude that this is a good place, one to hang out in all the time.

I would argue “yes” and “no.” Yes, it can be a good place, one where you can restore your intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and physical energy. But no! Not a place to be all the time. Why not? Well, it would get boring for one thing. But more than that, learning isn’t happening in the comfort zone. It’s comfortable there because you’ve already learned what you need to know to get along there. Something else happens after too long in the comfort zone. You may have seen or experienced this yourself. Complacency, gradually affecting work, relationships, or health.Outside the comfort zone

What happens when you expand your comfort zone? Your capacity to learn and develop grows. And, each step you take along the path from beginner to expert expands your comfort zone that much more. As you think about all the things that come naturally to you now – perhaps things like walking, writing, driving, or typing – try to remember the awkwardness you felt when you were first learning, when these things took you out of your comfort zone. It took time, but the discomfort was worth it, right?

When you are developing a team, you are likely to push team members outside their comfort zones at times. This is good, because just as individuals experience growth outside their comfort zones, so do teams. The path to high performance is challenging and involves taking risks. It is anything but complacent. Purposeful team-building activities accelerate a team’s development and ability to perform at high levels by intentionally and persistently expanding comfort zones.

When I’m faced with something that takes me outside of my comfort zone, I find it helpful to focus on the things I’m going to learn from the experience, and how it will help me grow. What about you? What helps you get outside your comfort zone?

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Schultz

The Hamster Revolution for Meetings

posted in: All, Bookshelf, Productivity | 0

Do you find yourself continuously attending meetings that don’t seem to accomplish anything?  Do meetings lack focus or stray off-topic? Do you ever find yourself saying, “I am spending so much time in meetings that I can’t get anything done!”?

hamster revolution

Authors Mike Song, Vicki Halsey, and Tim Burress offer solutions in The Hamster Revolution for Meetings: How to Meet Less and Get More Done. They take a fun approach, while offering specific and practical steps you can take to make meetings productive and engaging. A case study and examples make it easy to see how the concepts can be applied in real-world settings.

Check it out, and let me know how the ideas work for you!

 

 

To Purchase

Making learning context work for you

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting for new members at my local Chamber of Commerce. One thing typically done at this meeting is an introduction of the Chamber’s staff. This is important because of the role the staff plays to ensure that members have access to all the resources offered by the Chamber. It’s an important part of a meeting jam-packed with valuable information for new members. I bet you’ve experienced something similar before. It can be difficult to keep your head from spinning!

But here’s what was different about this meeting – the meeting-planner recognized that without context the staff introductions would have little meaning to the new members. So instead of a random introduction, the staff members were presented to us in the way a new or potential member would encounter them. For example: “Hello, I’m Scott. I’m the first person you talk to when you call us or come into our building.”  “Hello, I’m Kathleen. Scott would transfer you to me to talk about becoming a member of the Chamber.” And so on. As the staff members were introduced in this way, I could see nods of recognition from meeting attendees, as they remembered their initial experiences interacting with these people. It was a brilliant strategy.

learning context
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Experience and learning. They are inextricably linked. Providing context helps us make sense of new information. Incorporating the learner’s prior experience with purpose and intention always makes learning more impactful.

learning context
In Context

 

What does learning look like in your organization? When things change in your organization and your team members need to learn something new – how do you approach it? Are they flooded with information in one unrelenting torrent? Are they learning in a vacuum, or is the material framed in a way that provides context? How much detail are learners given, and when? What mechanisms are built into the training to allow team members to apply what they are learning? How is the new information connected to things they already know? How involved are team members in their own learning? Do they set learning goals for themselves or self-evaluate progress? Is time allowed for reflection and processing? Are different learning styles or preferences taken into consideration in the development of training materials and delivery planning?

apply learning context
Applying the Concept

 

It’s a lot to think about. And yet, when you find a solution that offers context and mirrors the learner’s experience, it feels right, and you know you are off to a great start!

How have you used experience to make learning meaningful?

 

High-performing team transformation

posted in: All, Change, Team Development | 0

transformationTeams change. It will happen many times in your career. Team members come and go. It’s part of the team development process identified by Bruce Tuckman in the 1960s and 70s. Forming – storming – norming – performing, and at last, transforming.  After working so hard to reach and maintain the performing level, at some point things will inevitably change, and the team will transform to something else.

Perhaps you’ve been developing someone on your team to take on roles of greater responsibility, and that person has been an integral part of your high-performing team. And because of that individual’s efforts, your efforts, and the outstanding results of your team, the individual is offered a new position – one with even greater opportunities for development and impact. So the team transformation stage begins. The team loses a top contributor and you need to search for a quality replacement. The team is soon to find itself back in the forming stage as someone new joins the group, roles are re-evaluated, and the members of the new team get to know each other.

transformationIf this is your team, be glad! Yes, it’s going to be a lot of work. And there may be elements of sadness in losing a close working relationship. But teams need to continually evolve to maintain high-performance levels. New team members bring fresh perspectives and new skills to the team. Add these to an already strong team foundation, and performance can reach even higher levels than before.

It may feel discouraging to now feel like you are starting over at developing your team, after the high levels of performance you’ve achieved and become accustomed to. With focus and intentionality, you can help your new team develop through Tuckman’s stages more quickly. Over time, teams will naturally progress through the stages, but why not involve your team in purposeful activities to accelerate the process and improve their interactions? You might start with activities that build connection and trust among team members, and then progress to activities to improve communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. You’ll be back to working with a high-performing team that exceeds your expectations in no time!

Some great resources for team development activities are:

http://www.teamworkandteamplay.com/

http://www.training-wheels.com/

What kinds of things have you done to develop your team? I’d love to hear about your successes and challenges!