Debunking Team-Building Myths – Part 2

In my last post, I challenged two common team building myths:

Myth #1: You must hire a consultant.

Not true. Any professional can learn and apply basic The Leadership Gift™ skills to boost a group’s performance by 50 to 100 percent or more, sometimes much more.)

Myth #2: The first agenda in team building is to get people to like each other. Nope. In fact, the first agenda is for the people to discover what they are to accomplish collectively as a team!

Today, let’s examine one of the most damaging and expensive myths about team building.

It’s damaging because it keeps managers misinformed and because businesses spend millions of dollars on meetings and consultants as if it is true.

Want to know what it is?

Myth #3: Team building takes time away from real work.

This false assumption completely permeates every industry I have served over the years. Most new requests received for team-building assistance sound like these:

“We have a very busy agenda but want to reserve some time at the off-site for team building. We were thinking about golf…”

“I want you to do some team building for us, but we also need to get real work done.”

“Do you have some team building exercises that won’t turn people off or take too much time?”

Sound familiar?

This myth that team building takes time away from real work is so prevalent because of it’s collusion with Myth #2, that people have to like each other.

And it’s true; if we are focusing on getting people to like one another then they probably aren’t addressing their work together.

Another reason for the myth is the common practice of labeling any joint, non-work activity organized by the manager as team building.

In my experience, such activities may or may not build the team though they serve important purposes as celebrations, stress relievers, and opportunities to know each other.

If we are calling every collective, non-work-oriented event a team building activity, then it is difficult to think of team building as getting work done.

In my experience, when high performance teamwork occurs naturally, the members have reached a certain understanding together. So to me team building means engaging one another in fruitful conversations about

  1. what the group is going to accomplish together
  2. how each member is going to win from the collective accomplishment
  3. how the group is going to work together for maximum mutual performance
  4. exciting stretch goals
  5. what each member brings to the effort

When these conversations occur, real work gets done and the team gets built.

Wouldn’t you like to have people leave your team building meetings surprised at how much real work they got done?

Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch

Reflect on your definition-in-practice of team building. Have you historically seen team building as “not addressing work?” Why? How can you reframe it in a way that will increase your The Leadership Gift?

Finally, what should we begin to call all those social events that we used to call team building?

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Collaboration, Teamwork on 03/21/2013 11:30 am
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