Articles about team building, leadership and much more

Team Building Articles

Which Bird Are You? Taking Flight with the DISC Styles
Matching the DISC personality styles to eagles, parrots, doves, and owls is an easy and memorable way to help learners connect with what they represent and remember it.

Team Building? 12 Questions to Help You Make the Right Decision
There’s no such thing as “the perfect team.” But, wouldn’t it be great if you could help your team on their journey? There are many types of team building interventions and like a carpenter, you need to select the right tool for the job.

4 Hats Leaders Wear by Stew Bolno, MBA, EdM
Lee Iacocca was fond of a quote relating to working in a business. It was, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” This is fine when applied to employees of an organization. However, executives and managers within your organization don’t have the luxury of making a choice. Your role and your challenge is, quite simply, to lead.

7 Keys to Building Great Workteams by Suzanne Willis Zoglio
Fostering teamwork is a top priority for many leaders. The benefits are clear: increased productivity, improved customer service, more flexible systems, employee empowerment. But is the vision clear? To effectively implement teams, leaders need a clear picture of the seven elements high-performance teams have in common.

Appreciative Team Building: Creating a Climate for Great Collaboration
Using Appreciative Inquiry with teams creates a climate that sustains synergy and collaboration. The principles and steps of appreciative inquiry are presented and compared with traditional teambuilding initiatives. Shame and pride are discussed as emotions with pivotal effects on individual and group development. We then examine how sharing stories of success builds team cohesion.

Team Building Through Bike Building Building: A Perfect Gift For The Holidays
I recently attended a team building program in Chicago. 130 participants from a major financial lending institution came together to take part in a team building activity to help build teamwork, relieve stress, and give back to the community.

How to Stretch Your Team's Capacity for Innovation
In general, the idea behind brainstorming is to have each person in the team offer ideas that pertain to a given topic. Simply sitting together and sharing thoughts is good, but using a good brainstorming process is better.

Celebrations and Events to Build the Team by Peter Grazier
Through the years that I have been working with organizations, I have always been fascinated by the power of events and celebrations to pull people together. Since we spend our days working together and focusing on the business at hand, the work becomes our primary medium for interaction. As such, its character is formal, serious, important, necessary, technical, and administrative.

Coaching as a Competency by Stew Bolno
In sports, teams have coaches. They recognize the importance of the role and working with individuals in order to improve performance. It is presumed that the professional coach knows more about the subject matter under discussion, than the player.

Coaching on the Field & in the Office by Stew Bolno
Spring training has ended (in baseball, not corporations) and the season has begun. Throughout Spring Training, baseball players most likely heard one of the most repeated expressions stated by managers and coaches: "We need to work hard on the fundamentals.

Collaboration Movement Alive and Well by Peter Grazier
What began simply as quality control circles in Japan in the 1970’s has blossomed into a full-blown trend toward greater collaboration in the workplace. In reality, the movement began much earlier when psychologists began experimenting with work groups in the early 1900’s.

Conduct Entrance (Not Exit) Interviews
The Saratoga Institute recently reported that 85% of people are dissatisfied enough to change jobs in the next year. Is it just me, or wouldn’t it be better to ask people what you need to do to keep them working for your organization, rather than ask them why they no longer want to work for you?

Conflict by Peter Grazier
Last August I taught a weekend course on team building to about 25 people participating in A Systems Approach to Quality Improvement at Madonna University in Detroit. Sponsored by the Association for Quality and Participation (513-381-1959), the six-month course leads to a certificate in quality and attracts management personnel who want to expand their knowledge of contemporary workplace concepts.

Values and Beliefs as Barriers to Team Consensus
Recently I have been engaged in an Internet discussion with some people about the difficulties in reaching a team consensus. It seems that most teams will struggle with this once in a while. Some of the people felt that one reason we fail to reach a consensus is that much of the discussion is based on opinions rather than facts.

Employee Empowerment and Customer Service
One year ago I wrote an article called "Empowerment in a Cookie." I don’t like to repeat myself in these pages, but I can’t help revisiting this subject again in light of a recent experience.

Creating Team Agreement for Results
Because the WaWa, the Canada Goose, flies in formation,it is freedom tempered by responsibility. The leader must keep the group on course and look ahead for danger. The others must look around, to the sides, to each other.

How to Make a Decision Without Making a Decision
When I first saw a decision being made without any decision-making, I was trapped with hundreds of my fellow community members in a fertilizer factory in Western Colorado.

A Story of Management Resistance to Employee Involvement
This is the story of an idea so powerful that management couldn't kill it. An idea rooted in a factory that four different companies have owned, enjoyed great results from, and then tried to shut down---only to have the idea bite management back.

Employee Involvement, What I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago
When I began working with employee involvement concepts in 1980, I was unbelievably ignorant of the human dimension of organization performance. As a degreed engineer, most of my training had been in the "hard" sciences and left little time for other subjects.

Employee Involvement, What I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago (Part II)
In Part I issue, I discussed how my work in the employee involvement field over the last 20 years has changed me. This work has significantly altered my thinking about organizations, performance, and people. What I attempted to share was what I called "Key Learning Points"

Employee Involvement, What I Wish I Knew 20 Years Ago (Part III)
In my previous two articles, I related some of the key learning points that have been pivotal to my understanding and application of employee involvement and teambuilding concepts. These are the basics that, to me, make it work.

E-Learning Coming to a Computer Near You
According to workers, the number one factor negatively affecting productivity is poor management (Society for Human Resource Management, 2004). Another study found that 72% of companies predict that they'll have an increasing number of leadership vacancies over the next three to five years.

Worlds Quickest Empowerment Tip
You are manager, supervisor, or team leader attempting to move your team or your organization toward a more empowered behavior, meaning, people take more independent action to make things happen. A team member comes to you with a question, the kind you have been expected to answer many times before. After all, this is the role of the leader isn’t answer questions and give direction?

Executive Coaching
Executive Coaching can measurably improve the business performance and professional growth of senior executives. The Manchester Survey of 140 companies shows 9 in 10 executives believe coaching to be worth their time and money with the average return being more than $5 for each $1 spent.

Feedback is the Perfect Gift
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, something else, or nothing at all, you can't deny that at this time of year, the feeling of giving is in the air. We see it under a Christmas tree, in a barrel filled with toys for those who can't afford them, or in a box filled with bags of food for animals that have not yet found a home.

Team Building Lessons We Can Learn from Geese
Fact #1 – As each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if one bird flew alone.

The Hard Facts about Soft Skills
Performance/Management Consultants have heard all of the jokes about consultants. Some of these jibes even make me laugh. Perhaps the most enduring criticism is that of referring to seminars regarding Individual/Team Development Communications Training as "Soft Skills" training.

Heroic Leaders Don't Always Save the Day
When we picture the Heroic Leader, we see a manager putting on the cape to save the team from impending doom. They put on their cape and come to the rescue. But in the end, only the leader's ego is saved.

Hey, Listen Up! by Stew Bolno
I am quite certain that coworkers rarely utter the following words: "I don't like that person, she listens too much."

Work in the 21st Century will Recognize Human Potential
Last July I spoke at the World Future Society's Eighth General Assembly in Washington, D.C. I was asked to address how work might change in the future, looking at the year 2010 and beyond. The following is the text of what I related and what I sincerely believe will occur, given what we know today.

Team Based Incentives - Do They Work
Black and White are commodity products, but Red is a specialty product. The sales force is meeting its targets on Black and White, but sales of Red are low.

Incredibles Team Building
The Oscars are months behind us, and I’m still steamed. Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” was a fine, worthy film, with guts, grit and pathos – but best movie of the year? C’mon! There was only one truly great film in 2004, and it was all about teambuilding. Yes, dear reader, I’m talking about “The Incredibles”.

When You're In Charge: Tips for Leading Teams
Do you remember that trembly feeling you had in the 4th grade when Mrs. Smith warned you about cheating? You know, looking off another’s paper, talking about the answer, or working with someone else outside of class?

The Leadership Assimilation Process and What it Means for Teams
The company has spent a good amount of time and effort, and paid a hefty commission to an executive recruiter to find the perfect candidate to fill an important leadership position. The new person is accomplished, experienced, and confident. However, within a few months, and maybe even weeks, there is a visible degree of friction between the new boss and the people who he or she is expected to lead.

Leadership by Design
As an owner, principal, or executive of a business you recognize that you have authority over those who work with you. You may refer to yourself by your title, but you have a more important job; that of a leader. Leader -- this conjures up visions of power, charisma, and great people.

Does Participative Leadership "Dull the Sword"?
Recently I was asked a question by one of my clients that sent me into a state of contemplation. The question asked if by changing an organization's leadership style to one of greater participation, would the leaders be handicapped when they find themselves in other, more "aggressive" business environments?

Leadership Lessons from US Presidents
During January, we will witness the quadrennial inauguration of the President of the United States. History tells us that the ideas, perspectives, and decisions of each President make a difference.

Leading with Style
While there are many factors that drive a leader’s success, style plays a key role in effectiveness. In the 1920’s William Marston created the DISC behavioral model in which he described four styles of behavior. Each style embodied a specific set of behaviors, as follows:

From Manager to Coach
As business continues to expand the use of workteams, the need to enhance leadership skills to guide them becomes of paramount importance. Leadership of a highly involved, empowered workforce contrasts sharply with the command and control structures of hierarchical systems.

Personality and the Team - Value the Person
In our popular Personality and the Team program, we have the opportunity to show people how many of their behaviors can flow from their personalities.

The Spiral Meeting
Have you ever been to a meeting that has spiraled out of control? You had an agenda. You defined a meeting leader and a scribe to take the minutes. You even had donuts (always a powerful draw to get people there). And yet, the meeting did not accomplish its intended objective.

Mentoring Sales Managers
How does a service provider in the health care business expand market share when they are, already, the leader of the pack? That was the question challenging a firm that does the lion’s share of the business within their industry.

Motivating Factors
In ancient times, it wasn’t hard to motivate workers. A ship’s captain, for example, could stick a crew below deck, chain each man’s hands to an oar, and start cracking the whip—literally. Chances are, the captain got where he wanted to go.

Navigating the 1st Interview Question
What is the subject of an interview? Most people say, “I am.” This makes sense because the interviewer surely wants to know about the interviewee. Why should the company hire this person (let’s call him Bob), as opposed to someone else?

Navigating the 1st Interview Question
A few years ago I was asked to speak to a gathering of engineers of the three western regions of the Federal Highway Administration. The 175 engineers were convened for a 5-day conference.

Navigating the 1st Interview Question
While managers may have a strong sense of their organization's strategic direction, they often lack a fundamental understanding of the perceptions, feelings and attitudes of their employees. This lack of understanding often leads organizations to waste their most valuable resource...their people.

Navigating the 1st Interview Question
You are preparing for an interview with your top company prospect. Wouldn’t it be ideal if the most updated intelligence on their needs and issues were available? Not the generic, bland requirements listed in the job description, but the salient, pressing issues your potential boss is facing right now?

Overcoming the Job Interview
There is a key moment in many interviews – typically towards the end – when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for us?” This represents a tremendous opportunity that is often missed. Here’s the chance to surface liabilities about your background that have not yet been discussed.

Overcoming Resistance to Employee Involvement
It seems that this topic just never goes away. I have just returned from New Orleans where I conducted a seminar on overcoming resistance to employee involvement (EI), and was once again surprised (and dismayed) that we are still struggling with moving it forward in our organizations.

Overusing Strengths Creates Weaknesses
When it comes to using our strengths, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. How can this be? Shouldn't we focus on strengths, capitalize on them, and use them every chance we can? Of course, but when our strengths are exhibited at extremes, they become our weakness.

People Skills Training
One of the reasons I got involved in 360-degree feedback technology over ten years ago was the frustration I experienced as a management consultant. A typical assignment had me creating and presenting a customized leadership development program.

Training with PIZZAZZ!
As organizations struggle to keep up with the demands of a changing world economy, people at all levels of the organization are being called upon to make presentations, conduct training, and influence others to make changes.

Poor Meetings are Front Page News
According to a popular newspaper, the number of business meetings is on the rise. What makes this significant, however, is that much of the time spent in meetings is unproductive.

The Power of 360-Degree Feedback
Let's begin with a concept of which most of us would agree -- Positive and constructive feedback, if presented respectfully and with helpful intent , benefit both the individual and the organization. And yet, studies on turnover reveal that lack of feedback and recognition are often cited as a key reason why people leave organizations.

Starving for Recognition:
In 1981, I was working as the project engineer on a construction project to modernize a silicon wafer manufacturing facility in St. Louis. We, as the project's management, had begun an employee involvement process (although we didn't call it that back then) to involve the trades people in ways to improve performance.

Restructuring the Right Way
As the "Restructuring, Reorganizing, Downsizing" craze continues, I thought it might be appropriate to write a sample letter that organization heads might send to their people as they embark on this journey.

Enhance Your Team Building Efforts with Portable Ropes Courses
The absolute best and surest way to teach somebody something is to provide a metaphor or in some way link the new concept to an already known concept.

The Evolution of Scavenger Hunts to Treasure Hunts
Corporate teams are jumping at the chance to explore next-generation treasure hunts rather than old-fashioned scavenger hunts.

SMWT's: A Team Effort
Over the past 15 years, a growing number of American companies have participated in a grand experiment: self-managed work teams (SMWTs). These are production or service-delivery groups that operate without direct supervision—an idea almost unthinkable a generation ago.

Living with a Self-Directed Work Team
As the concept of self-direction continues to grow, it helps to look at the basic principles involved. Sometimes this is best served by listening to the people who are actually living it.

Sit There, Do Nothing...Are You Kidding Me?
Stress has become so prevalent in the workforce that a recent study by found that 68% reported feeling burnout at work. While there are many causes of workplace stress, there is something that people can do about it. The best part is that this strategy requires very little effort.

Economists Studying "Social Capital"
Once, economists studied physical capital--the bricks and mortar of economic life. Then, they studied investment capital--the financial resources that provide the wherewithal to build industry. More recently, economists have explored the role of human capital--the endowments of education and health that individuals possess.

Quantifying the "Soft" Costs of Empowering Employees
Not long ago, a question appeared on the Internet asking how one evaluates the "soft" costs associated with empowering employees. I responded with the following thoughts and was surprised by the positive responses. Maybe the ideas below will be of help to you.

Work and Spirituality
Is it just me, or are we all beginning to notice a growing interest in the relationship between work and the human spirit? It seems my desk is surrounded by books, newsletters, and even corporate memos that in some way discuss this.

Supervisors in Transition
Organizations today seem to be accelerating the pace of change. Everywhere there is experimentation with new work concepts such as quality management, re-engineering, process improvement, employee involvement, self-directed work teams, worker empowerment, statistical process control, just-in-time inventorying, quick changeover concepts, and more. Increasing competition has proven to be a strong motivator of change.

Teaching Team Behaviors Earlier...Much Earlier
Did you ever wonder why adults seem to struggle when assigned to a new workplace team of some kind? As organizations increase their use of teams, the “new”skills and behaviors required seem to challenge everyone.

Accountability a Sticky Subject for Teams
Thousands of organizations are eagerly creating empowered work teams in an effort to boost productivity, enhance quality and bolster employee morale. As more and more organizations move closer to full empowerment, however, they hit an obstacle that is becoming self-direction's most burning issue. Sure, you can hand-off management responsibilities and vest teams with the authority to act, but aren't managers really still accountable?

Team Measures
We have been talking a lot about team measures with our clients over the last few years. The reactions we get to these conversations have been interesting. Sometimes when we introduce the subject of measures we see eyes glaze over.

Team Startup - Free Download!
The Team Start Up guide has been prepared to give some guidance to team leaders and/or facilitators working with newly-formed teams. These steps have been used successfully, in part and in their entirety, with different types of teams, including labor-management partnership teams.

What is Team Building, Really?
Have you ever heard someone say this when you even mention team building? It’s even the brunt of TV humor. An episode of "The X-Files" started with Mulder and Skully in their car driving to a team building session, with the implication that there are much more important things to be done.

Team Motivation
Motivation. We hear the term often. Generally we associate the word with human behavior, meaning, a state of mind that moves us to action. And even though few of us have had formal training in it, it’s one of those characteristics of life that seems to fit the old adage, “I know it when I see it.”

Teams at the Top - New Book Misses the Point
Little has been written about the behavior of teams at the tops of organizations. This group of senior managers, most notably the Chief Executive Officer and his or her direct reports, holds a unique position at the top of the hierarchy.

Teams at Work
Small-company executives tell how team development improves productivity and profits.

Employee Involvement - 10 Years of Learning
This issue of Employee Involvement Network marks the 60th time---10 years---that I have put my thoughts into words in this newsletter. Over the last month I have found myself reflecting on this, seriously contemplating what I have learned in the process.

Time for Coaching
When I ask people if they provide as much coaching to their staff members as they should, they almost always say, “No.” Then, when I ask them why they don’t coach their people as much as they should, they inevitably reply, “I don’t have the time.”

Teams Finding It Tough? Maybe the Culture is Wrong
Without a doubt, teams are hot! Organizations can't seem to expand them fast enough. I just received a conference brochure through the mail entitled The Best of TEAMS 97 to be held in Chicago in June---an entire conference dedicated to making teams work.

The Toxic Workplace
Look around you at work and ask yourself how many of your coworkers are really enjoying their work or the work environment. Something is changing, and it doesn't seem to be for the better.

Take Your Team on a Quest with Team Building Treasure Hunts
Imagine your team racing through the streets of New Orleans, wandering Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, treasure hunting in the Museum of Natural History in New York City or exploring the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

The Miracle of Pittron Steel
A few months ago, my friend Ray Martin, Chief Operating Officer at Camden County Health Services Center told me of a man who has spent his entire adult life working to instill such a belief in work organizations. Ray was attempting to bring him to the center to work with his people.

Starting up a Virtual Team
A global New Product Development Team was launched by a major software development company with an aggressive completion date as well as specific performance expectations driven by the market.

Who Stole Our Meeting?
Most people know what makes a good meeting, yet so many meetings are unproductive. So if we understand that efficient and effective meetings require preparing and sticking to agendas, starting and ending on time, and keeping minutes, why do meetings go awry?

Work is One Big Fat Teachable Moment
When I speak at conferences about retaining winning talent and the problem of turnover, I often ask attendees to raise their hands if their fathers worked at three or fewer companies throughout their careers.