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Team Building

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Team Building

Team building refers to the process of establishing and developing a greater sense of collaboration and trust between team members (Wikipedia, 2007). Interactive exercises, team assessments, and group discussions enable groups to cultivate this greater sense of teamwork. Team building is used in many contexts, for example in sport and work organizations.

Need for Team Building

Modern society and culture continues to become more fluid and dynamic. The effect of this environment is that individuals are now required to work with many different groups of people in their professional as well as personal lives. Joining a new group and immediately being expected to get along with them is somewhat unnatural - historically humans have worked and lived in close-knit, stable societies. As such, people have had to develop methods to help people adapt to the new requirements. All kinds of people face the same difficulties. As of yet there are no generally agreed solution to the problem - it may not even be possible given the thousands of years of cultural evolution that brought society to its present behavior patterns.

Team Building Ingredients

There are many ingredients that are seen as important to the successful set-up and launch of a team effort. These ingredients are selecting participants, establishing goals, assignment of roles, matching personality types, support

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within the team, and communication between team members and leaders (Lafasto, 2001).

Selecting participants

The first important ingredient for team building is selecting participants to be on the team. The team leader usually looks for specific skills in his or her members in order to ensure success in the project. It is important to have members who have confidence and are able to build trust among the other participants. A participant must also break out of his or her shell and become a leader. Most important, the participant must have a positive attitude at all times (LaFasto, 2001). Sometimes it is helpful to have an assessment that each member has to fill out at the end of the project to help in future team building experiences. The authors of When Teams Work Best collected 15,000 assessments that team members had to fill out about their fellow teammates. In the assessment there were only two questions asked: (1) what strengths does this person bring to the team? (2) What might this individual do to contribute more effectively to the team's success? (LaFasto, 2001) The assessment revealed six factors to help distinguish between the effective and ineffective team members. The factors fell into two groups: working knowledge and teamwork. Working knowledge consists of two factors: experience and problem-solving ability. Teamwork consists of four factors: openness, supportiveness, action orientation, and personal style (LaFasto, 2001). If each member has these qualities, the outcome of the team building activity will likely be successful.

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Establishing goals

Establishing goals within the team is essential in team building. It is important for the team leader to establish goals early so the members understand their purpose for participating. If the goals are clarified, the participants are motivated to excel in the activities and develop trust in their leader (LaFasto, 2001). Goals give the team direction and provide a feeling of value and importance. One common mistake of teambuilding is to assemble a group of people, call them a team, then give them nothing to do or have then continue to do the same things they did before they were called a team. Another common mistake is for the team leader to decide what team's goals are. Team members must be actively involved in their outcomes (Temme,1995). It is important for a leader to make sure the team knows how the work will be done and how they will accomplish their tasks (LaFasto, 2001). Without goals, the team has nothing to strive for, and many members may lose motivation. Keeping the goal simple and achievable will be very beneficial to the team in the end.

Assignment of roles

Assigning roles to team members assist them in knowing their place on the team. Each member should be assigned a role that is clearly defined and relates to his or her personality. Clearly defining the roles to the team members helps to make the assignments more straightforward, assist in understanding the

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decision-making process, and assure the task will be completed. It is important to clarify the team member's roles at the first meeting so members know exactly what they have to do. Making a list of everyone's skill sets, preference, work experience, and interests would help in assigning the roles. From this list it should be determined who is best suited for what role. If there is conflict in the process, team members can always share the responsibilities. Otherwise the leader can draw names out of a hat to decide who gets what role. However, participants may not have an interest in the role that they were unwillingly assigned to. A serious problem that may occur is that a specific role may have too little or too much work, which may cause resentment between the members. Productivity may also be lost. Balancing skill and roles can be one of the most challenging things to achieve, but it is very important to do to ensure the success of the team (Mallet, 2006). A team must always be ready to adjust to their new roles and be prepared if assigned to a new one. Members must be willing to move beyond their roles and help others in order to practice good teamwork and to get the job done (Parker, 1990).

Matching personality types

The personality of a team leader plays a big factor on how the team performs. A leader must understand the kind of

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