I did not have any ‘formal’ business training as of that point in time other than attendance at whatever workshop or seminar the company would pay for me to participate. I decided that I would write the Employee Handbook by first contacting our corporate Attorneys and requesting any materials they had in their resources and I would then form a committee of employees…one from each department and one from each level…to help write the Handbook.
Everything was done with the guidance of the lawyers’ material and the consensus of the group. It was a learning experience, a team building experience and a corporate growth experience….all in one. It was amazing….I still remember the feeling I had when the Employee Handbook was completed; everyone involved was proud. We had disagreements and discussions….and more disagreements and more discussions…but in the end, the team worked together…and we were better individuals for it and the company was a better place to work.
I often wonder how many of those individuals that worked together on that project…actually remember it and have the same thoughts/feelings about that experience as I do. The majority probably do not; there were only about eight or nine of us….but, I’m sure a few of them do…I left the company in 1985…I ended up having a complicated pregnancy and needed to spend a good deal of time flat on my back….work was not in the cards at that time…onto build another type of 'team'...
Team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but trust and support one another and respect one another's individual differences.
When you walk into a room, there is always someone who thinks that they are the smartest person in the room…even if you are the ‘boss’ and you know more than they know from a company perspective….that one person will still think that they are the smartest in the room. No matter what the mix, there is always someone who dominates the discussion, and others who defer to that person out of frustration…or complacency.
Getting the best out of a group is not always about silencing the loudest; it is about getting everyone involved to explore all the angles, bring all the ideas out into the open and collaborate on a path going forward….much easier said than done.
Team members are very good at organizing when relationships with other members are already established. When individuals know one another and have developed trust and understanding, the issue of getting everyone’s ideas on the table doesn’t come up much. Over time you learn about each other, come to respect those who can contribute and just figure out how to work together. This happens more often than not….
What can be frustrating is when an organization is in the midst of transformation….a two (2) person start up hiring that third member or a global company moving into another market, you are faced with people who don’t have shared experiences that enable them to work well together... The dynamics of the group can easily get in the way and the ‘loudest’ usually wins….
The primary way to focus on good and productive group/team dynamics is to somehow insure that everyone in the group gets to contribute and that everyone’s contribution is heard…something that takes work! A good start is to intentionally form teams/groups that span levels, expertise and skills…something that I did so very unintentionally back in 1983..
The very best team building/group dynamics approach that I’ve seen is an IBM model that gives everyone on the team a pad of sticky notes and a pen. The group/team leader presents an aspect of the challenge or the entire challenge…each person spends a short period of time thinking about the challenge and writing ideas on the sticky notes…one idea per note. The notes are posted on a white board in the meeting room. The individuals then go back to their offices and back to their work. They can present the ‘challenge’ to anyone in or outside the organization, with pre-designated permission. Ideas garnered from other sources are placed on additional sticky notes that are continually posted on the whiteboard. The group/team leader then begins to categorize the sticky notes and once the notes are being posted with a great deal of time lapse, the members of the group/team are then called back into the room…this could be a few hours or a few days later.
It is at this time that all the ideas are reviewed….it is very hard to quash a good idea, once shared. This method gives rise to much better teams and it certainly leads to better outcomes. The more people that have a voice, the more opportunity one has of choosing the best idea…not the loudest.
This method of team building does not just ‘work’ in a work environment….it would go a long way in social organizations, church groups, classroom work, etc. If you would like to learn ways to encourage and promote team building and positive group dynamics in your organization, please contact Rosanne Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 484-798-1236. Good Luck!!!