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Team Building

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Team Building

Team building is a process that develops cooperation and teamwork within a work unit. To constitute an effective team, its members must share a common goal, have respect for each other, and be motivated to use the strengths of each member to achieve their objectives. Current corporate philosophy stresses that each member of a team plays an integral part in the success of the company.

With understaffing, burnout, outsourcing, and other morale-defeating activities on the rise, many corporations realize they must nurture communication within the organization. In addition, many businesses form teams, or committees, for varying purposes; therefore individuals can be members of several teams. For an effective team, time should be established for getting acquainted and the exchange of ideas. From the employee's point of view, being part of a team usually provides a sense of loyalty and ownership.

Through activities known as team building exercises, individuals can practice brainstorming, collaboration, creativity, trust, and feedback. Most team building activities focus on areas such as problem solving, organizational development, and conflict resolution. Participants can also develop leadership, interpersonal, presentation, and negotiation skills.

Many activities, both inside and outside of the workplace, fall under the broad category of team building exercises. Common team building activities include ropes courses, culinary school, or a field day of team games and exercises. Other light-hearted team building activities include radio-controlled car racing and scavenger hunts.

Team building events also include a company's celebrations around holidays. Whether it's a Halloween costume contest or a St. Patrick's Day feast, companies can start or continue traditions that employees look forward to and become involved in. Other team building activities can include sporting events, potluck meals, team t-shirts, or company drawings for prizes.

When planning or choosing a team building event, try to plan the event at an off-site location. Be prepared for the session by bringing items you will need. Be flexible and have a back-up plan in case you encounter hurdles. Use appropriate safety measures as needed.

Remember to involve all parties and anticipate opposition and blunders. Because individuals learn differently, incorporate components for those who learn through sight, sound, and touch. Encourage participants to go with the flow, even when the plan deviates. Allow time for thought and reflection, but end the event promptly.

To be effective, team-building exercises need to have follow-up activities, or the sense of collaboration and creativity is lost. Companies exist that plan and produce team building activities for businesses and organizations. Many books and Internet resources also provide ideas for team building activities and icebreakers.

Force Field Analysis

Concept

Force field analysis is a management technique developed by Kurt Lewin, a pioneer in the field of social sciences, for diagnosing situations. It will be useful when looking at the variables involved in planning and implementing a change program and will undoubtedly be of use in team building projects, when attempting to overcome resistance to change.

Lewin assumes that in any situation there are both driving and restraining forces that influence any change that may occur.

Driving Forces

Driving forces are those forces affecting a situation that are pushing in a particular direction; they tend to initiate a change and keep it going. In terms of improving productivity in a work group, pressure from a supervisor, incentive earnings, and competition may be examples of driving forces.

Restraining Forces

Restraining forces are forces acting to restrain or decrease the driving forces. Apathy, hostility, and poor maintenance of equipment may be examples of restraining forces against increased production. Equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the sum of the restraining forces. In our example, equilibrium represents the present level of productivity, as shown below.

Equilibrium

This equilibrium, or present level of productivity, can be raised or lowered by changes in the relationship between the driving and the restraining forces.

For illustration, consider the dilemma of the new manager who takes over a work group in which productivity is high but whose predecessor drained the human resources.

The former manager had upset the equilibrium by increasing the driving forces (that is, being autocratic and keeping continual pressure on subordinates) and thus achieving increases in output in the short run.

By doing this, however, new restraining forces developed, such as increased hostility and antagonism, and at the time of the former manager's departure the restraining forces were beginning to increase and the results manifested themselves in turnover, absenteeism, and other restraining forces, which lowered productivity shortly after the new manager arrived. Now a new equilibrium at a significantly lower productivity is faced by the new manager.

Now just assume that our new manager decides not to increase the driving forces but to reduce the restraining forces. The manager may do this by taking time away from the usual production operation and engaging in problem solving and training and development.

In the short run, output will tend to be lowered still further. However, if commitment to objectives and technical know-how of the group are increased in the long run, they may become new driving forces, and that, along with the elimination of the hostility and the apathy that were restraining forces, will now tend to move the balance to a higher level of output.

Managers are often in a position in which they must consider not only output but also intervening variables and not only short-term but also long-term goals. It can be seen that force field analysis provides framework that is useful in diagnosing these interrelationships.

Team Building - Integration of Goals and Effectiveness

Achieving Goal Congruence

The extent that individuals and groups perceive their own goals as being satisfied by the accomplishment of organizational goals is the degree of integration of goals. When organizational goals are shared by all, the term goal congruence can be used. To illustrate this concept, we can divide an organization into two groups, management

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