In the article “Stop Team-Building-Start Better Teamwork,” I describe that team building is like dieting as it often results in a yo-yo effect of highs and lows when the team doesn’t stick to the prescribed “Diet.” Like failed diets, teams can experience even lower morale following a team-building session when they discover that the session didn’t produce the changes they expected, not to mention the waste of time, resources and budget that went into designing, facilitating and attending the team-building event. I have found that this yo-yo effect is most often experienced in organizations that make the following four team development mistakes. Team development is too often reactionary, usually requested by well-intentioned leaders who want to address the issues dogging their team. A commitment by the team and leader to an ongoing team development process where the team checks-in at least monthly on progress. Without a clear definition, and understanding, of what a high performance team looks like, teams and their OD and HR supports will waste time and energy focusing on improving areas that will have little effect on the root causes preventing the team from working at their very best. Team development is done to the team instead of by the team. This of course is easier said than done, which brings me back to #3 above, ensuring leaders are armed with the right tools to effectively measure and improve team performance, no matter the type of team they are leading, or for how long the team will be together.
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