Saturday 31 March 2007

Team Resiliency--Team Building Guidelines

The only teeth that we really need to floss, are the ones we want to keep. And likewise, the only teams with which we really need to do team building...are the ones we want to keep.

Guidelines for Doing Team Building
Excerpts from ch 14 of M. Care book (1992)

· To begin, team development is something to regularly plan into your schedules. It is an ongoing process, involving much more than the initial orientation period or annual performance appraisals. A team development event every one to three months should be standard for most teams.

· Team development helps prevent major problems erupting within the team by dealing with issues that may otherwise not be discussed. They are a necessary complement to regular times of prayer together, fellowship, annual retreats, and conferences. Some teams benefit from special team sessions that are extended over two to three days, even when there is not some kind of crisis.

· Team exercises work best when the team ethos encourages openness and speaking into each other's lives. Team members, especially leaders, must be willing to take some risks with each other and be willing to show weaknesses.

· Choose one or more "growth facilitators" on the team who can coordinate team exercises. These should be individuals who are sensitive to the needs of others and to group process. Facilitators usually serve as moderators for these times, drawing people out and keeping things on track. They need not be the team leader nor a pastoral counsellor to be effective.

· Be aware of the team's current focal point--that is, the area which is the immediate concern of the group at any given time. This is the point of interest that a team would usually move towards if there were minimal resistance or reluctance to do so. It also represents the next step towards growth as a team seeks to become more viable. Sometimes the real focal point only becomes apparent during the middle of a team session or series of sessions.

· The focus of the sessions will change as the needs of the team change. Make sure that you are really dealing with felt needs of the team members, not just someone's good ideas. Frequently an issue or particular theme needs to be addressed over a period of time.

· One important goal in almost any session is to help people speak and listen to one another in new ways. Another goal is to encourage people to make contact with each other at fairly deep levels. People usually want to put aside their work roles and be themselves. Effective team exercises allow the real person to emerge from the role.

· Keep team development and team building times as practical and enjoyable as possible. Experiential approaches can produce more insights and change than simply sitting around and talking about "things." Use some novelty to keep people motivated and engaged. Make sure everyone on the team is included and contributes without feeling forced.

· Find ways to elicit group competencies and call on the collective wisdom of the team. No one should dominate. Important resources lie within the group, not just in some outside specialist.

· Encourage people to try new behaviours. Respect any hesitations to do an exercise. Sometimes people may need to be gently challenged; other times it is better to modify or change the exercise.

· Children are members of teams too. Do not overlook their need for growth and involvement in team exercises. They can also contribute a lot to the overall group.

· When giving feedback, be an encourager. People need to know their contribution. Avoid using generalities, so be specific and direct. Avoid making statements about intentions. Try using statements prefaced by "I think" or "I feel" rather than "You are."

· Always debrief at the end of the session. Discuss what it was like, what was helpful, not helpful. Let people express their thoughts and feelings and put closure on any unfinished matters.

· Consider using a coach/consultant at times, someone with an ongoing relationship to the team. Helps to: clarify issues, look at hard questions, mediate, bring fresh perspectives, encourage, equip.

Reflection and Discussion
What types of team building do you do in your team(s)?
How can your team further develop its team building skills?

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