Team Building. Can You Stand it?

You've probably been involved in a team building exercise at some point in your work life.

Perhaps it was a human knot, an mandatory weekend outing or a few hours in the workplace "getting to know" your colleagues. I am always interested in what leaders subject employees to under the guise of teamwork.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

I've never been a fan of forced team building.

As a leader, I want my people to know that I've got their back. I want to create a workplace where people choose to come to work. There will be bumps and bruises along the way but in this work place people know that if they stick with it and show up, they can be their best.

I stay away from over-exuberance and anything that is staged for the purposes of "see what I do for you."

I don't go for cheesy.

I go for building strong teams.

No man is an island and no leader can get the job done alone. Work gets done through people. Being forced to play a ridiculous game is not going to turn a struggling team around.

Step away from the idea of introducing "two truths and a lie" at your next team meeting and instead, observe your team in action. Assess how team members communicate and how they hold themselves accountable.

  • Communication. Teams that perform well adopt communication strategies. Does your team come together to be sure the team is ready to move forward before an plan, action or decisions takes place? Does your team touch-base regularly? Do they meet to explore service, product or ways to improve? What is the level of emotion and hurt feelings in a typical team interaction?
  • Accountability. Teams that perform well hold themselves, and others, accountable. Does your team raise the red flag when someones safety or the quality of service is at risk, an urgent decision needs to be made or to avoid a mistake is about to happen?  Do they establish agreements to ensure future success and team improvement? How often are issues not raised within the team later shared in hushed voices at the proverbial water cooler?                         National Center for Organizational Development

Now, assess yourself.

How do you communicate with your team and how are you helping or hindering communication? How do you hold yourself and your team members accountable for delivering results? Are you accurately assessing team member performance or do you have premature faith in their abilities?

In the end, leaders are judged on how well they make their organizations work. Teams that perform well deliver results. Effective teams dedicate time to understanding their work and know that improving the way they work is their work.

The best leaders create the work environment where this can happen. This is sustainable team building at it's finest.

Trust circle not required.

Team Building. Can You Stand It? by Lisa Rosendahl first appeared on

Creating A Business Case For HR Staffing

So much of the time we look through the lens of our past experiences without even realizing it.

Being raised by a single mother working two (or more) jobs, receiving my first introduction to "business" in the tightly funded military, earning my HR business partner wings in a small but growing privately held family business and now practicing HR in a federally funded organization - I view money through a rather conservative lens.

It impacts my approach to HR staffing.

Using the word "approach" denotes that something is a conscious decision and that's not accurate in this case. Most of the time, it is so ingrained in what I do, that I am not even aware of it.


HR staffing, for me, is an elusive, rubber-band dynamic between fiscal responsibility and service. I tend to do everything I can to make due with what we have until we can't do it anymore. By the time I accept that we can't do it anymore, my staff are on the window ledge preparing to jump.

The HR staffing ratio goal in the Federal sector is 1 HR Specialist for every 80 employees, my staffing ratio is about 1:150 and the optimum number for my department (and me) is somewhere in between.

Notice how I ever so smoothly inserted "and me" in there.

For the good or the bad of it, I am a pivotal part of the equation. I won't (I can't) stand before my colleagues, peers and boss and and ask for something that I don't believe in or can't support. And, because of my lens, I know that I get in my own way.

So, can you imagine interest when our headquarters sent out a request for volunteers to develop a business case for HR staffing in our agency? 

Long story short, I am on the workgroup. We will start by identifying data we can gather and factors to consider in developing business model. I vision the model as a resource available to all facility HR offices and not a prescriptive "if a than b" model.

Since HR is not one-size-fits-all, the "factors to consider" will be key. Mike Haberman has some great info in his post, The HR Ratio or "How Many Employees Does It Take To Screw Up an HR Department?"

And now I am itching for more. Help me me look smart. More importantly, help me see past my staffing lens.

Tell me, what resources, guides, models, tips or factors to consider would you include in a business case for HR staffing?