On team building… By Kelly Fleming

What comes to your mind when you hear the word team.  Sometimes, it’s a collective term used too often to describe things that it’s not really meant to describe.  There are many off shoots of the word as well…team work, team training, team building.  Webster does not have a definition for team building, however defines team work as: “marked by devotion rather than an individual achievement.”  Wikipedia states team training as “designed to improve efficiency, rather than interpersonal relations” and that team building “enhances social relations and defines roles within teams, often involving collaborative tasks.”  The simple definition of team according to Webster, “a group of people who work together.”  Sounds not too difficult to understand, right?  No stress involved, right?  Um…sure.  Teams are complex.  Teams need attention.  Teams need development.  If you stop and think about it, how many teams are you a part of?  At work, at home, at Church, in your neighborhood, in your community, in MASFAP.  Are all of your teams successful?  Why or why not?  Are teams successful because they have good leaders?  Are teams successful because they have dedicated members or participants and everyone pulls their weight?  Are teams successful because they have cohesion and unity and everyone gets along?  Are teams successful because they are organized?  Successful teams take much effort.  How many times have you participated in a team building exercise and at the on-set groaned.  Come on be honest.  Team building exercises are built to expose problems within the group.  Is that why you groan?  Who likes to be exposed?  How many times though have you come away from a team building exercise with an “ah-ha” moment and grown from that moment?  Know however, that a team builder is not a quick fix to mend a team that appears broken.  It won’t magically help poor leadership or broken communication, teams that appear unproductive or without vision.  The team builder will identify where the challenges are and then smaller teams will need to be formed to dig deeper into the underlying causes.  Often times team building is not given the attention it deserves.  The activity is fun, but the follow up is lacking.  Studies have shown that if done right, participants become more united, more committed, morale becomes higher and performance increases.  And why?  Because all participants should have been a part of the decision making along the way and ultimately of the outcome.  Some take aways…team members are individuals with different needs, ultimately individual differences.  Teams should be created and utilized with each individual in mind so as to be built with their strengths in mind, not their weaknesses.    

When’s the last time you’ve participated in or planned a team building activity?  Are you overdue?  What are you waiting for?”

 Kelly Fleming is one of our MASFAP Delegates.

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