Un-team building — an action-change approach
We all like rope-climbing, drumming and cooking contests, even golf! But that’s not what makes teams collaborate better and operate more productively. Nor is it inspirational quotations!
Why? The traditional notion of team building has a sustainability issue
Changing attitudes and behaviours in the moment is a cinch when folks engage in a stimulating time together — usually off-site and at a resort. Behaviour change theory PDF abounds.
It’s assumed that if you get a group together, climb ropes and play games the team will overcome their perceived obstacles to fixing their inefficient behaviour.
That said, team building tools are useful when the group knows how to sustain the learning and action it in new ways of working together.
What gets teams working better together is learning how to have better conversations. Better conversations lead to better collaboration, which leads to better action and better results for teams and organizations dealing with change, and dealing with how to improve their approach to change.
So, how do we shift the fundamental differences within teams that appear to dominate and overrule underlying common interests?
Your team already is collaborative and efficient. They just don’t see it that way because nobody asks them about what’s working. Help them notice what’s already working – their resources for change — before they climb the ropes.
Some teams are mistakenly seen as being at war. They are either fighting for power or protecting themselves. No cannons are being fired so the war is a construct. Hence, don’t let an apparent crisis go to waste. Help the team learn to focus on the future they want and to shift the immediate actions in that direction. For more on this listen to Alan Kay’s podcast on making the most of Teams at War.
Reframe their problem-focus by acknowledging it constructively. ‘If you were in the shoes of some of our clients, what concerns would they have for themselves?’ Followed by, ‘What are our grounds for optimism that our effort to be helpful to the clients will be a great success?’
They already know what to do — it’s just not clear to them. Sustaining change requires a conscious competence of what the team already does well and how they see themselves doing more of it in the future. Help them see beyond their differences. Sustainable team building aligns people around useful behaviours they don’t often tap into.
Learning active collaboration practices during a team building exercise underscores Jim Duval’s line “Everybody is trying to collaborate – just not each other’s way.”