I was recently at a doctor’s office and above the water fountain, was a poster titled “Teamwork Has It’s Sweet Rewards.” The image included a dog laying on the floor in front of an open refrigerator. On its back, stood a small dog. On the bag of that dog was a cat who stretched its paws up toward the top shelf to retrieve a large cake covered in pink frosting and strawberries. This unlikely trio of comrades worked together to come up with a solution to their problem. Why is it that when we humans encounter people with differing perspectives or styles that we silo ourselves? At work, like often clings to like.
I recently read a fascinating article in Business Week magazine that discussed an alternative approach to picking team leaders. Typically leaders are chosen for their prowess with the technical aspects of the job, their decision making skills, and their assertiveness in commanding others. Historically, we see these people as natural leaders, yet we also see them fail often.
The BW article talked about another approach, using the experience of the University of Maryland’s men’s soccer team. The coach, Sasho Cirovski, watched his team decline in performance and standings after 6 straight NCAA tournament showings. Naturally, with such success, the coach thought they were on the verge of a National Championship. Instead, the team declined steadily.
The coach had picked his two strongest players to be captains, but they were falling short of the skills needed to help the team. So he called his brother Vancho, who was a human resource vice president for Cardinal Health Inc. in Windsor, Ontario. He suggested that Sasho survey his players to find the real leaders in the group. Using an instrument he used at work, the players were asked questions such as “Whom do you rely upon when your team needs unity and motivation?” and “From whom do you seek inputs and opinions before making minor personal decisions?”
Also called “social network analysis,” such surveys are increasingly popular among corporate managers who want to visualize and develop their informal organizational charts.
After the players had taken the survey, Vancho called with the results. “How come Scotty Buete is not your captain?” he asked. “He’s off the charts. He’s such a big influence.” Cirovski was shocked. Buete was a quiet sophomore, a promising local rather than a sought-after-recruit.
Just hours before a midseason road game, he made Buete the team’s third co-captain. The team rallied around Buete, who went on to score the winning goal in that game and remained an effective leader until he graduated.
The coach admitted that “Scotty was the glue, and I didn’t see it.” It was a defining moment that helped propel the team to four straight College Cup appearances (soccer’s version of the Final Four) and, last year, the national championship.
The coach now plans to use the survey to identify future leaders based more on social skills than technical ones. In this is an important lesson for business.
Virtual Team Building Activities
Leaders, facilitators and team members often overlook the power of positive team building quotes. Not only can sharing a great quote at the right time help build credibility, it can also be motivating to those you are speaking to. I would suggest using quotes whether you are facilitating a leadership workshop, leading a team building program, or just speaking to your peers or staff.
I have chosen several quotes to share with you as a resource. Please use them when appropriate to help boost the effectiveness of your message. Of course, be sure to give credit to the original source.
None of us is as smart as all of us. – Ken Blanchard
No man is wise enough by himself. – Plautus
Teamwork divides the task and double the success. – Unknown
Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. – Henry Ford
You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. – Doug Floyd
We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately. – Benjamin Franklin
It is amazing how much people get done if they do not worry about who gets the credit. – Swahili proverb
None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful. – Mother Teresa
The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime. – Babe Ruth
Michael, if you can’t pass, you can’t play. – Coach Dean Smith to Michael Jordan in his freshman year
We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees. – Jason Kidd
A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle. – Japanese proverb
A boat doesn’t go forward if each one is rowing their own way. – Swahili proverb
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. – Michael Jordan
Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success. – Stephen Covey
When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality. – Joe Paterno
It’s easy to get good players. Getting them to play together, that’s the hard part. – Casey Stengel
Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. – Vince Lombardi
There are few, if any, jobs in which ability alone is sufficient. Needed, also, are loyalty, sincerity, enthusiasm and team play. – William B. Given, Jr.
Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. – Unknown
Build for your team a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another and of strength to be derived by unity. – Vince Lombardi
A championship team is a team of champions. – Unknown
No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
A major reason capable people fail to advance is that they don’t work well with their colleagues. – Lee Iacocca
Virtual Team Building Activities
I think this is one of the oldest, yet most effective icebreakers for meetings, training, or team building sessions. The “4 Facts” exercise simply asks people to write down 4 “facts” about themselves, 3 of them true, 1 not true. We encourage participants to think of things about themselves that others don’t know. We also give them license to say things that they wouldn’t say in normal conversation, such as an award they won, or that they graduated first in their class in high school or college. When they are finished writing their “facts,” one person will read his list, and the others in the group will try to guess the lie. When they are finished with the first person, they go on to the next, and so on. You can also give a prize for the person who guessed the most correct answers, however, this is not necessary for the effectiveness of the exercise.
The beauty of this exercise lies in helping people to learn things about each other that they might never find out in normal conversation. Unique skills or talents may also be learned. It almost never fails to surprise people, even those who have worked together for years.
The 1 untruth in the list is intended to force closer listening, and add an element of interest.
Although it is never voiced, I sometimes worry that some participants may view an exercise like this as trivial. So I will share stories of how learning more about someone created a more productive relationship. Artificial barriers to communication exist in relationships like manager-employee, engineer-craftsman, executive-everyone else, white collar-blue collar, sales-operations, and others. Breaking down these barriers is good for the organization, and an exercise like “4 facts” can help.
Virtual Team Building Activities
I never liked forced ranking systems to “measure” employee performance and thin out the ranks. For those of you not familiar with this kind of employee measurement or rating system, basically the group leader, manager, or whoever makes a list of his or her people, ranking them based on their performance. If you find yourself in the bottom 10% of the list, there’s a chance you may be shown the door. This process apparently gives organizations a basis for getting rid of the “low performers.”
The problem with this kind of system is that it comes with significant disadvantages. It forces people to compete rather than collaborate with each other, defeating the purpose of real team building. Why would I share something with you if I thought it would give you an advantage over me during performance review time?
Apparently I’m not the only one thinking this way. An article in the January 9, 2006, issue of Business Week magazine seems to come to the same conclusion. The article, entitled The Struggle to Measure Performance, says that the practice of forced rankings is increasingly coming under fire. Following a number of discrimination lawsuits from employees who felt that they were ranked and yanked based on age and not just their performance, fewer companies are adopting the controversial management tool.
The article talks at length about GE’s culture that, under former CEO Jack Welch, used force ranking to rate its people. However, in moving toward a culture of innovation under its new CEO, the company is injecting more flexibility into the system. Innovation is one of the incredible byproducts of collaboration and teamwork, so removing barriers to them should help the company create the innovative culture it desires.
Apparently Yahoo is moving in the other direction, having recently implemented a “stack-ranking” system. In this system managers are required to rank their people from 1 to “X”. In other words, if a manager has 20 people, she would rank them from 1 through 20, distributing pay raises accordingly. Some managers feel this new system is going to “kill morale.” It will be interesting to watch Yahoo, a company that has grown on the engine of innovation, to see if growth or performance is affected.
If you know someone who was affected by this kind of employee ranking system, tell us about it. I’d especially like to know if companies that are using forced ranking also espouse team building concepts. Thanks…Peter
3/20/06 – Addition to BLOG The March 20, 2006, issue of Business Week magazine in discussing a new book entitled Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense related the following: “Practiced by as many as one-third of companies today, the authors say [forced ranking] has many flaws. A 2004 survey of more than 200 human-resources managers found that even though more than half of them used forced ranking, they felt it resulted in lower productivity, skepticism, reduced collaboration, and impaired morale. Breaking up teams by automatically firing the bottom 10% of workers can even be dangerous: Citing a National Transportation Safety Board study, the authors note that 73% of commercial airline pilots’ serious mistakes happen on crews’ first day together.”
Virtual Team Building Activities
Team building programs of the 90’s took place in fields and forests. Remember ropes courses, both low and high, that allowed people to engage in a series of team activities and face self-imposed limitations while dangling from cables?
The next decade ushered in classroom-based team building that included behavioral profiles, such as the DISC model and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
As we look forward to the next generation of team building programs, people will be coming out of the woods and sterile hotel conference rooms. So where will they be going? They’ll be headed to facilities with a sensory-rich environment that enhances the team building experience.
For example, imagine going to your local zoo and participating in ZooQuest, Teambuilding, Inc.’s handheld GPS-based treasure hunt. Or, picture yourself on the deck of the Midway in San Diego or the Battleship New Jersey across the river from Philadelphia participating in the Teambuilding, Inc. activity, Battleship Adventure.
By linking the activity to the facility, the experience is heightened and people remember more of what they have learned. Research clearly demonstrates that people learn better and remember more when their emotions are activity. So picture visualize your team at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ engaging in the Teambuilding, Inc.’s Deep Water Adventure activity in a room with a view to the shark tank.
Team building programs are evolving, so teams can too.
Team building programs are becoming more and more creative…and are requiring and building heightened levels of creativity. Consider the Teambuilding, Inc. activity, You Take the Cake!, in which participants are tasked with turning ordinary sheet cakes and loads of cake supplies in to a metaphoric representation of your team and how your team will work together to drive success.
At one of our team building program for a major pharmaceutical firm in which a marketing team turned their cake supplies into a three-dimensional motorcycle. Their creation symbolized the free-spirit and boundary-less creativity that they so valued. With a fleet of motorcycles driving down the highway in formation, they described the teamwork and coordination that they would help them to achieve their goals.
When teams leave there traditional work environment and not only discuss where they are headed, but also engage their emotions in a physical activity, the mind, body and spirit are primed to unify into a vision that becomes reality.
If you’d like to learn more about the Teambuilding, Inc. team building program, You Take the Cake!, contact Teambuilding, Inc. at 888.672.1120.
National Treasure and its sequel were big hits. The Amazing Race took Reality TV watchers on weekly adventures around the world. The DaVinci Code thrilled audiences with Tom Hanks’ clue-solving prowess.
All of this adds up to the desire of teams to experience clue-solving for themselves on their own team building treasure hunt. Teambuilding, Inc. taken up this challenge and created GeoQuest: The High-Tech Treasure Hunt. Teams of five or six receive a hand-held GPS unit that has been preprogrammed with specific sites (waypoints) that contain clues to solving the puzzles.
Groups can race through more than 45 cities around the United States, such as Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, San Diego, Denver, San Francisco and more. On their way, they must use their GPS unit to navigate to the waypoint. Once there, they must use their wits and keen powers of observation to solve mind-boggling clues.
Team building treasure hunts offer groups with the opportunity to work together to make decisions and get results, but most of all, they have a fun, bonding, shared experience that lasts well beyond their treasure hunt.
Team building – every great company swears by it. For decades businesses have sought to provide new and innovative programs to their staff to improve communication, camaraderie and productivity just to name a few. However, many leaders find themselves repeating the same standard teambuilding activities… until now. The newest and most creative Team Building Program pays homage to the CSI movies and television programs that are hugely popular today.
CSI is the perfect framework for building teamwork. What would happen if the forensics team didn’t work well with those who collected DNA and trace evidence? Imagine one CSI agent gathering fingerprints from the crime scene and keeping that data for himself rather than sharing it with a CSI agent from a different department. It truly takes a team to solve a crime, just as it takes a team work through challenges in the workplace.
Picture your team trying to solve a high-profile homicide or running the streets of your home town collecting enough evidence to apprehend a group of notorious felons. These exciting programs not only bring your favorite crime solving dramas to life but will encourage collaboration, teamwork and critical thinking skills from your team members. Forget about the boring boardroom lectures – put your teams to work literally in these stimulating activities.
The numerous benefits from using this style of program include; any size group can be accommodated, the activity can take place indoors or outdoors (or both!) not to mention it’s completely “outside the box”. Outdoor courses can be custom designed for your location and never again will you hear complaints or grumbles of the same old training sessions.
If you’d like to experience the teamwork that real CSI agents practice every day, TeambuildingInc.com expert facilitators can deliver an engaging CSI team building experience that culminates with an in-depth discussion of how CSI teamwork applies to the workplace. The connection between crime solving easily links back to the real world of business and specifically your company.
Your team has three options to experience CSI and a team building adventure:
1. CSI NegativeZero: The Case of Victor Steele (half-day): This indoor CSI program couples your team’s analytical abilities with some of the newest forensic technology. Your team is tasked with identifying the killer of a rising actor from a group of three likely suspects. Will you catch the murdering marauder in time… or will they strike again?
2.CSI: On-location (half-day): This outdoor CSI program allows your city to be the scene of a major crime spree…and you’re the newest member of the CSI team. Your job is to walk the streets of your town, trace the footsteps of the criminals, and collect the evidence that will put them behind bars. Using teamwork and quick-thinking, this high-stakes crime drama will put your sleuthing skills to the test!
3. CSI: Agent for a Day (full-day): Solve a classic murder mystery and then hit the streets of your hometown! This full-day CSI program combines CSI NegativeZero: The Case of Victor Steele and CSI: On-location to offer a dynamic CSI team building experience. Your team will experience both styles of a crime scene investigation in this day long program that doubles the impact of working as a team.