Team building…sometimes your group needs a tune-up…forging new relationships or creating camaraderie. Maybe lack of leadership is an issue and you need to refocus energy towards this goal. Rocket Blast is a unique experience that contains work on building skills, relationships and esprit de corps…and it’s a lot of fun!
Posts Tagged ‘Team Building’
We just spent the week at the ASTD 2011 conference, in Orlando, Florida, as both volunteers and attendees. It was an amazing experience, and at times, a disappointing experience.
For those of you who may not know, ASTD stands for “American Society of Training and Development” it is, arguably, the premiere professional organization for trainers, facilitators, team building providers and many other corporate learning professionals.We will likely post a couple more articles reviewing and describing our observations from the conference, but where I would like to start is with a brief discussion (or possibly diatribe) on keeping learners engaged throughout seminars, workshops, webinars, and the like.
I served as a workshop session monitor as part of my volunteer duties and attended quite a few learning sessions as a participant. Based on those experiences, let me assure you, in case you were worried, “death by PowerPoint” as a “learning tool” is alive and well! I was amazed to see so many industry luminaries still lecturing and droning over PowerPoint slide – shows as their primary method of imparting knowledge. Mega bullet points, tiny fonts, boring graphs, and even long paragraphs were projected on screens and read to workshop attendees over those 5 days – some with great gusto and animation, some in a tired monotone, and many somewhere in between.
There were plenty of presenters who did some interactive exercises and activities, such as using “poll everywhere” (which, in my opinion, is a brilliant app), leading partnered discussions and exercises, insightful Q & A sessions, and so on, but in my personal experience these activities were the exception rather than the norm.
There is so much research out there on how people learn, the best ways to engage learners and how to increase retention, that I have a hard time believing how much “sit and spew” style training is still going on out there.
Here are a few examples of research that supports getting participants actively involved in learning:
These are just a few current and popular resources that are eloquently making the case for increased learner involvement, activity and participation in learning experiences, there are many, many more (a future blog entry, perhaps?). Please, trainers, facilitators and experts – get us involved! We want to learn, we are interested in you and what you have to say – we just need to engage more than our butts and note – taking synapses in your sessions!
- Contest for the Worst PowerPoint Slide Ever (neatorama.com)
- Reforming Higher Ed #3: Teach Differently (barnettwriter.wordpress.com)
- PowerPoint: the kudzu of modern communication | Cory Franklin (guardian.co.uk)
Team building programs. We’ve all participated in them….some are focused on specific results, others are aimed at team alignment, sometimes for relationship building, and finally, the program might just be plain fun and energy for the team. Getting creative with new activities is a challenge we love at TTU – and we have found a keeper.
“Minute to Win It”, a popular TV game show, returns tonight with contestants battling to win the coveted million dollars while playing games that, let’s be honest, you might see at a bar or a frat party. When it first aired this spring, our team got together and knew there was a team building program in there somewhere. It didn’t take long before “In It to Win It” was born, loosely based on the actual hit game show with participants competing in games, some we created and a few from our days in college!
We recently conducted our first live team building session of “In It to Win It”…..and was it a hit! We were able to integrate strategy, planning, communication, time management and teamwork (wow….sounds like team building!!) into the activity plus plenty of fun. Participants raved that it was creative and two hours of non-stop energy, which fit perfectly for the end of their 3-day corporate meeting. Hey, you never know where you’ll find a new team building session!
High Performance Team Challenge-Day 21
“Big thinking precedes great achievement.”-Wilferd Peterson
If you have been following this challenge, you have likely had some deep thoughts about your team as a whole,your team-mates, and yourself as a member of that team. If not-why not? Having the questions, the conversations and the conflict when necessary, sets the stage for having the big thoughts that so often precede achievement.
Over the course of these posts we have discussed:
3.Interpersonal Team Dynamics
4.Priorities (and prioritization)
8.Team building activities
15.Even playing together as a team.
All of these topics are key components of being an effective team rather than just being a collection of individuals.Now that you have had an opportunity to explore all of these team qualities-it is very likely that you found some areas of great strength and some areas that contain the opportunity for great improvement. How are you going to implement what you have observed and learned? How are you going to build on those strengths? Minimize those weaknesses?
Working on teams can be extremely difficult and immensely rewarding.Challenge yourself to meet the difficulties, and reap those rewards!
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- Ron Ashkenas: How to Build an A-Team from Day One (huffingtonpost.com)
- The 17 Indisputable Laws Of Teamwork (slideshare.net)
- Why a tool doesn’t bring you business success (theenterprisearchitect.eu)
- Understanding work teams (slideshare.net)
- Team Building in Sports (slideshare.net)
- Do Your Business Leadership Skills Harm Your Projects? (brighthub.com)
- Increasing Productivity Through Teambuilding (human-resources-management.suite101.com)
High Performance Team Challenge-Day 17
Many team meetings involve team members giving each other informational updates and other types of presentations. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you know that “bad PowerPoint” is a definite pet peeve of ours. Spending time with your team working to build better presentation skills can be time well spent in several ways:
1.It can make internal team communications much more interesting, powerful and time-effective.
2.When the people on your team consistently give interesting, high-value presentations to customers or people from other departments, it can increase the quality of your team’s reputation.
3.Investing the time to develop team member’s skills can definitely increase engagement and interest in the team.
4.The process of learning about, then developing and practicing new presentation skills together can serve as an excellent shared team building experience.
5.While working on presentations, team members will become more aware of and aligned around the content and Ideas covered in the presentations.
Here are some great resources to to help you get started:
Presenter Pro- Great presentation skills reference
Keynote Remote – Control your slideshow from your iPhone!
Share your favorite presentation tips-Leave a comment.
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- How to Avoid Making PowerPoint Your Enemy: Tips for Your Pitch Deck (readwriteweb.com)
- Duarte Design’s Five Rules for Making Presentations that Don’t Suck (klessblog.blogspot.com)
- Story Telling vs. 10,000 Years of PowerPoint (globalneighbourhoods.net)
- How to add Transitions to your PowerPoint 2010 Presentation Slides (simplehelp.net)
- iPhone App – Keynote Remote (rickcartwright.com)
- The Art of Presentation: Think (woorkup.com)
Although meetings are often held up as inefficient time wasters, they can serve as highly effective team building experiences as well. The keys to holding meetings that are valuable and represent team time well spent are:
1.Be clear (with yourself and the attendees) about the purpose of the meeting (have specific outcomes.)
2.Plan ahead-Create an agenda that actively supports the team’s priorities.
Three solid reasons to hold a meeting:
1. Decision Making-The most important and relevant reason for calling a meeting. Know the decisions that need to be made and be sure that prior to the meeting, attendees are also “in the loop”.
2. Team Alignment and Team Building- Building relationships and beginning to align people around an idea, a new project or a recently formed team are all made easier through “face to face” contact.
3. Information Download- There are often more effective ways to share information, such as e-mail, teleconferences, websites, etc. It is ok to include an informational component to a meeting that has been organized for one of the two reasons listed above. This is by far the least compelling reason to call a meeting. If the only purpose of the meeting is to share new policies or some other information, reconsider holding the meeting.
After you have decided that a meeting is going to be a valuable experience for everyone involved, here are a few more things to think about:
1.Stick to the agenda- People appreciate meetings that start (and more importantly,) end on time. Don’t wait for stragglers-that sends the message that your team culture is one that accepts tardiness. Plan the right amount of time for each agenda item, then stay on schedule-tightly. (Don’t fall into the trap of allotting unrealistically short time periods on the agenda, then running over.)
2.Invite the right people- Only people who need to be directly involved on the decisions, brainstorming ideas or team alignment factors should be in the meeting. Anyone else-send’em the minutes afterward-they will thank you.
3.Avoid “Bad PowerPoint” – Here is a post on that topic with additional resource links.
Make your meetings into team performance exercises instead of corporate donut parties!
We would love to hear your ideas on how to improve meetings and so would our readers –Leave a comment!
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey
Setting, staying focused on, and actually achieving priorities on schedule and in order is an extremely challenging thing to do-emergencies crop up, in the form of emails, texts, phone calls etc.
We know this is the second post in the series that is related to priorities-and that is how important we believe setting and sticking to them is (day 4 was the first).
Something that I am fond of saying is,”There’s no such thing as a team building emergency.” I think that statement is probably true for most of us-unless you are a soldier, a firefighter, a police officer, or a medical professional, (also maybe a plumber, or currently, a BP Exec, or an underwater oil well capper) actual emergencies are likely very rare in our day to day work.
“I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.”-Dan Millman
So for today’s post-we are throwing out a variety of prioritization tools that can help you and your team can use to stay on target!
Team Building activities are sometimes seen as “hokey” or silly, and some are. I’ve got to ask, though, isn’t having cocktails with co-workers at the local Chili’s and complaining about the new format of the TPS reports a little hokey too? Both types of activities do have their place and serve their purpose in building teams that get results.
Any shared team experience creates a set of memories and adds new dynamics to team relationships.In team building activities, the “hokey factor” often actually serves a few value-added purposes:
1.Creates “memorability”-Who can forget that time that we all wore dinosaur claw gloves and built a marshmallow tower?
2.Allows the introduction of workplace dynamics-tight resources, unclear directives, communication challenges, etc. while easing the tension of those dynamics by not feeling or looking too much like the real workplace.
3.By not being too much like “real work” it allows team members to “let their hair down” while debriefing similarities and differences between team behaviors during the activity and in the “real world”.
This post is not actually intended to be an argument for hokey team activities, -it is an encouragement to you to consider either researching a few simple team building exercises you can do yourself during team meetings, or hiring a professional team building firm occasionally for team meetings or off-sites.
Team building activities don’t have to be hokey, silly, time consuming or expensive, and your team will often gain remarkably interesting and positive results.
Here are some ideas and resources:
On the web:
Business Balls-Experiential Learning Article
Business Balls #2- Extensive guide to team building activities, games, quizzes and puzzles.
Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers: 50 Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes- Simple and Clear activity ideas
Managing to Have Fun-Plenty of employee engagement, morale building and team building ideas
The Big book of Humorous Training Activities-Games-Humor always helps!
Downloadable Activity Template:
Team Cents Team Activity -Try it with your team-it’s fun,easy and powerful!
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High Performance Team Challenge-Day 9
“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.”-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
This quote might be a little on the dramatic side, but the thought behind it definitely applies to team performance and alignment. For many reasons, it is really easy for people to get so involved in crossing items off of their task lists, responding to “emergencies” and dealing with the minutiae of work life, that they forget about the overall mission, vision and purpose of the team. In some corporate environments, “busyness” can be misinterpreted as doing business.
“Never mistake activity for achievement”.-John Wooden
A quick and often surprisingly profound way to help your team re-focus on what really matters is to conduct at least one, and possibly a series of Simple Process Mapping Sessions. Team Leaders and members are often under the mistaken assumption that “everyone knows what I do/what the team does.” This is not usually the reality. Over time, team roles and processes go through subtle shifts-conditions change, then an informal response, fix or step is implemented or removed, and eventually the process is not performing as originally designed (if it was originally designed.) This is a natural aspect of systems, and can be easily examined using the exercise we will outline here. In Six-Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and other “Quality” circles “Process Mapping” refers to a few relatively sophisticated problem solving tools.
While related, the Process Mapping exercise we will discuss here today is much simpler, and the primary focus in on communication and alignment amongst team members, with the added benefits of providing a first step in working toward process improvement and enhanced efficiency.
The steps are simple:
1.Gather team members for a time-defined meeting, ideally, no more than 90 minutes.(These steps are assuming no geographical challenges-for teams that are geographically separated, the steps are the same, the specific methods will be different, but can be accomplished with online meeting tools.)
2.Using either a long sheet of “butcher paper” or a series of flip chart sheets attached together, draw a timeline across at approximately the top 1/3rd point on the paper.
3.Label the start and the end of the timeline with the the first and last steps of the process you are planning to “map” (For example: A sales team may start with “A lead comes in…, and end with “The new customer signs the contract… a shipping department’s timeline might begin with “the product arrives on the conveyor…” and end with “UPS picks up the package from the dock…”
4.Next, give team members plenty of post it notes, and ask them to list all of the tasks (one task per post it), that they perform in their job (not only the ones directly related to the process being mapped)).
5.Next, ask team members to stick all of their post its under but along the timeline in the approximate order where they “fit”, with tasks that are directly related being closest to the timeline and the ones least related further below.
6 After this step is completed by everyone, give team members a few minutes to just look at and read everyone’s post its. (You will likely hear comments such as ” I didn’t know you did that!” or “I hate those.” or “How often do we have to do that?”)
7. Now ask team members to collectively organize and categorize the post its into like items, and when finished, to label the categories. (If there are more than 5-6 people in the room, you may want to divide everyone into “waves” for this step.
8. Next, ask people to do one final prioritization, in descending order, of all of the tasks, into categories such as: Extremely important (closest to the timeline), Sometimes important (next) Never or seldom important (furthest from the timeline, at the bottom of the paper)
9. Now, with everyone sitting in a semicircle, where they can see each other and the process map they just created, ask the team to first discuss what they learned about the team and each other’s roles, then what they noticed about how they spend their own time.
Resist the urge to instantly spring into “problem solving mode”. Trying to “fix” things too soon and/or haphazardly can lead to new difficulties in the process. Let people know that this is the beginning of a more effective team and process, not the end. At this point, you and the team will have a lot of data to sift through and evaluate, likely an eye opening team experience, and an enhanced sense of alignment. We will discuss how to use the results of this process in future posts.