How Team Building Can Transform Your Company

Most established companies already know the crucial need for team building. However, many small entrepreneurs take too long to realize the need for a planned process of boosting teamwork as most of the critical decisions are made by the owner. This attitude deprives the company of the full potential of its greatest strategic resource—the capability of its personnel.
Many people think team building is a waste of time and money. This is probably due to hyped-up expectations during team building activities. Often the hope for benefits either happens only temporarily or is immediately forgotten upon returning to the workplace.
You can take active measures to ensure that team building is truly effective. Consider the following suggestions:
Define realistic objectives. Since many of the objectives are intangible, it is difficult but still doable to set targets. Take the time to first work out this issue. To do this, make a list of desirable outcomes and design activities and other measures to achieve your goals.
Ensure that incentives and policies encourage team work. To have a credible team building program, you must review your policies and incentives if they are conducive to team building. You must walk the talk; if all your rewards are for individual achievement, it would be very hard to instil team spirit. This is a delicate balancing act for there should also be motivation for individual effort. One guide is to estimate how much value added can be attributed to the achievement. Another consideration is the probable effect of the policy on each employee. Often, there must be compromises made as you usually cannot hope to please everyone. Make it clear that everything is subject to change as you observe the results of your new policies.
View team building as a continuous process. One of the main causes of team building failure is to think of it as just a fun activity undertaken once or twice a year. While the exercises are a vital component of team building, they must be viewed as just the starting point for the team building process. It is the day-to-day actions of the team that must be monitored and managed to push the team building agenda. Review each team member’s actions to see if there are indeed improvements. There must be reminders and corrective measures to keep things on track and to build momentum.
Be prepared to convert or eliminate those who are not team players. As much as possible, everyone must exert effort to contribute to the team. Try to persuade recalcitrant personnel to buy in to the objectives. Observe if there are those who are derailing the process. There should be no exceptions. Letting one person be excused will encourage others to be lax, too. Unless that one person is more important than the damaging effect on other team members, you must either convince him to be cooperative or to give the appropriate disciplinary action. There may even be times when you have to transfer or terminate the person. The willingness to undertake such stressful decisions is where you exhibit your true commitment to team building.
Look for hidden talents and weaknesses. While the discovery of hidden capabilities has always been one of the major objectives of team building, oftentimes this desired result is left to chance. Actively seek to find out traits useful to management, and structure your activities to ensure such skills are made more visible. Instead of just leaving it to the outsourced conductor of the team building exercise, there should be a deeper collaboration to improve the process of discovery.
Help people develop the proper levels of trust. It is in the issue of trust where there is the most controversy. This is the theme in a large number of team building activities. The theory is that the more trust there is in the organization, the more productive it is. However, we all know that the reality is that there are some people whom you should not trust with some tasks due to a variety of reasons. Worse is, there are a few individuals who are really malevolent. Leaving yourself vulnerable to people who harm you is not the best policy. The better people know about each other, the more they are able to calibrate the appropriate trust level.
With the increasing complexity and demands of modern business, there is an urgent need to tap the greater capability of teams. Effective team building will transform your company to an organization that delivers optimum service and results.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. CC-4, Sunday, September 8, 2013. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.