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