Management experts and researchers agree that successful organizations are characterized by effective teamwork. Organizations are increasingly realizing the importance of developing teams that can work in a coordinated, efficient, and creative manner.
If you recognize the need for team development, and are planning some initiatives for that purpose, you should have some idea of the pitfalls, and how to go about it. Whether you hire a consultant to help, or you lead the process yourself, you need to know what must be avoided.
Many team building initiatives fail because there are inherent mistakes in designing and organizing these initiatives. We have seen an enormous amount of resources going down the drain in team-building initiatives due to the following drawbacks:
Disinterested Senior Management
Any team development initiative will plainly fail if the senior leaders stay utterly aloof from the activity. The easiest way to derail the initiative is to bring the CEO or formal leader of the team into the session as an observer. We discourage observers totally. It is unfortunate that management sometimes enters into a team-building in a somewhat detached way. The uninvolved manager looks at team development as something meant for others, not for herself. She thinks that it will help others change, but she doesn’t need it.
After going through latterly hundreds of team building initiatives, I have reached the conclusion that the most influential person in most teams is the formal leader. Like it or not, he sets the tone for the team, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It is obvious that team effectiveness cannot be improved unless the manager is willing to look at his contributions to the team. Management often has to change too.
During a recent team-building initiative, we encountered CEO of a company who was indeed a true role model throughout the initiative. He demonstrated his positive attitude by stating, “If you aren’t willing to hear from employees how your behavior impacts the team (negatively or positively), don’t do team building. The worst thing you can do is start the process and refuse to acknowledge that you are a key player in the process.”