What Team Building Strategies Must Focus on to be Effective in Actualizing Outcomes
Team Building and Experiential Learning
In order to be effective, team building strategies must focus on building cohesion, unity, discipline, reliability, and above all, the need to maintain clear channels of communication and to establish the chain of command in the hierarchy.
To start with, team building strategies have to focus on building cohesion within the team. This can be done through formal and informal methods of training that can include brainstorming, formal meetings, and informal experiential training.
We will be using the term experiential training throughout this article and it would be useful to consider what it is.
As the term suggests, experiential training is the practice of involving the team members to share and participate in experiences together.
In other words, the objective of experiential training is to ensure that team members work as a unit and consists of a series of activities that focus on actualizing the team building outcomes.
The Example of the Armed Forces
In this context, it would be pertinent to take the example of the United States Armed Forces that builds up cohesion and discipline within the teams by focusing on shared experiences in boot camps and other such events.
Indeed, given the fact that the Armed Forces in any country have to have a high degree of discipline and self-control as well as the ability to follow orders and establish the chain of command, the members of the Armed Forces are usually put through grueling sessions where the objective is to make them trust each other as well as obey the commands of the captains and those who lead the teams.
Formal Methods of Team Building
Having said that, there can be other methods of team building apart from experiential learning and this can include the workshops where team members are given game and exercises that entail them to engage in role-playing and other activities where the outcomes of strategic learning and who plays the roles of the different strategy drivers and followers are the intended objectives.
In addition, by making them work on group activities and other forms of gaming, the team members are taught to trust each other as well as rely on each other for support and guidance.
For instance, returning to the experiential and Armed Forces examples, exercises such as trekking and rock climbing as a unit are often encouraged and are a part of the training so that team members trust each other in both life and death situations as well as during the normal course of operations.
How Corporates Can Instill Team Building Values
While corporates need not engage in life and death situations, nonetheless, they need the team members to work together in crisis situations. Moreover, given the disruptive external landscape that organizations work in, who can say for sure that life and death situations would not happen even for corporates.
Indeed, the fact that business contingency planning entails disaster scenarios such as fires and earthquakes, it is important for corporates as well as to make the team members trust each other and be reliable and be of support and guidance during extreme events as well.
In this context, it is worthwhile to note that effective team building also needs the chain of command to be solid and the channels of communication to be clear and free from noise and the organizational arteries to be unclogged.
For instance, just as the Armed Forces need the soldiers to follow orders even to the extent of sacrificing their lives, corporates too need their team members to follow instructions from the managers though if possible, in less extreme situations?
Establishing a chain of command means that the orders of the managers must be followed in all cases and when there is some dissent, it must be expressed openly and not be the source of political games.
In other words, even if a particular decision of the manager is contrary to what one believes ought to be the right or the relevant one, the dissenting team members must discuss the same openly with the managers instead of engaging in politics.
Further, the communication channels need to be clear and free from what is known as noise. For instance, the hierarchy must be respected and at the same time, the feedback from the rank and file or the bottom layers must reach the manager.
This two-way communication must not be accompanied by noise wherein the instructions and the messages are garbled leading to much friction.
In this context, it is also the case that experience and expertise must be recognized and if the fresh recruits or those who are younger when compared to the others put forward a relevant suggestion, then the arteries that run through the organization would benefit from the new perspectives that are brought forward by them.
Thus, it is clear that team building entails a broad range of outcomes that need to be actualized and hence, effective team building must take into account all the objectives and the desired outcomes. Lastly, team building is as much about friendships and relationships as it is about professionalism, and hence, the focus of team building must also be on the development and the nurturing of relationships and personal friendships between the team members. To conclude, organizations must follow the examples of the Armed Forces in fostering a spirit of camaraderie and cohesion within the team as well as use formal and informal methods of team building using experiential training.
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