Before we get into talking about team building methods I want to make one thing clear. Team building and managing is difficult and even the best managers can get it wrong sometimes.
In the 1966 World Cup Final Alf Ramsey took the unpopular decision to leave out his star striker for the final against West Germany. Instead he picked Geoff Hurst whose style better suited his team plan. Geoff scored the only ever hat-trick in a World Cup Final and England became World champions. But four years later, in Mexico, Sir Alf made the catastrophic decision to substitute Bobby Charlton when England were two up against west Germany in the quarter final and ended up losing 3—2. If it can happen to Alf Ramsey at the height of his career it can happen to you. If it does, don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn from your mistakes and move on. After all, it’s not as if someone will still be talking about your cock-up 40-odd years from now.
TEAM BUILDING METHODS, INTRODUCTION
In order for people to find a reason to work as a member of a team, they need a common purpose and a sense of identity. Put a group of people in a lift together and they think and act as individuals. Create a crisis situation such as a breakdown or fire in the lift shaft and the need for survival becomes the common purpose. Instinctively each person assumes a role that they think will help the group survive, for example tactician, comforter, problem solver etc.
In this article, I examine the roles that people play within teams and the factors that may affect their capacity to perform effectively. The role that managers play in promoting effective team working is also considered. There are a lot of team building methods and frameworks out there and I will make a selection based on popularity, recorded success, documentation.
The British management guru Charles Handy tells a good story of how, when addressing a group of undergraduates, he once described ineffective teams as being like a rowing crew with eight people going backwards without talking to one another, being guided by someone who is too small to see where they were going. He admitted that he got a bit of flak from a rower in the audience who argued that, on the contrary, they were a good example of the perfect team; as they would not have the confidence to pull on the oar so strongly without talking or seeing if they didn’t have complete trust in each other and in the person steering the boat. I like Handy, but in this instance I think the rowers beat him by a canvas.
I’ll leave it to the American car magnate Henry Ford to sum up what this section is all about. He described team building/formation as ‘Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a process; working together is success.’
Here are the 8 best team building methods:
- BELBIN’S TEAM ROLES
- MACCOBY’S GAMES MAN THEORY
- LIKERT’S THEORY OF TEAM MANAGEMENT STYLES
- DREXLER/SIBBET TEAM PERFORMANCE MODEL
- HOMANS’ THEORY OF GROUP FORMATION
- TUCKMAN’S GROUP DEVELOPMENT SEQUENCE MODEL (CROWN AS KING)
- WHEELAN’S INTEGRATED MODEL OF GROUP DEVELOPMENT
- LOCKE’S GOAL SETTING THEORY
I recommend you go ahead and read each article (I have made 4 posts containing 2 methods each) and then go ahead and read the section below.
A FINAL WORD ON TEAM BUILDING METHODS
WHY TUCKMAN WAS CROWNED KING
This was a real toughie. The choice lay between Belbin and Tuckman with Wheelan a very close third. I’ve used Belbin team building method extensively in the past but opted for Tuckman method because he emphasizes the actions you need to take to forge a group of individuals into a great team. His process is simple but brilliant. You need to get them:
- thinking along the same lines;
- resolving conflicts; and
- taking responsibility for their own work/performance
while you stand back, act as facilitator and watch them grow (Wheelan’s perspective on this as a life-growth cycle is fascinating).
When choosing team members it’s not only essential to have people with the skills Belbin identified but also people who can complement your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. For example, it’s perfectly possible to lead a team that has to deliver a major new computer system within six months yet have little knowledge of computing, provided you surround yourself with great people who know their stuff and who you trust. I know, because I did it thanks to a great team.
Once you have your team, spend time clarifying your aims and objectives. Whatever your aim is you can only ‘build it’ if you have a clear picture of what ‘it’ will look like when complete. Don’t go off half-cocked. Be certain about where you want to go before you take a single step. Only then should you brief each person individually on their roles and responsibilities using your chosen team building methods. Then brief the entire team on who is responsible for what. This will clarify roles and responsibilities, eliminate confusion and enable the team to hold its own members to account.
Set SMART targets that will motivate both individuals and the team. Make a point of recognizing people’s contribution to the project and celebrating even small successes.
One of the first tasks you need to perform, after team building methods selection, is that you and the team need to evaluate the environment in which you will be operating. You can be the world’s greatest manager but if the environment you are operating in is poisonous you stand little chance of success. Use scanning tools to examine the internal and external factors that might affect the project. Be aware that while external factors can damage you it’s the internal factors that are most likely to kill your team.
As the team stands to work and develop its own personality be aware that you may need to change your management style. Part of any maturation process involves learning to deal with your own problems. At some stage you must give the group the freedom to deal with its own conflicts. You may be tempted to intervene but if you do you’ll stunt team
The way team building is often portrayed is that it’s a linear process. Even this conclusion gives that impression. The truth is, if things start to go wrong you may have to take more than one step back in order to resolve a problem before you can move on.
Great teams can do great things. One of the most remarkable examples of team building and subsequent success in recent years was England’s victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The head coach, Clive Woodward, attributed England’s success not just to an outstanding group of players, but to having the most intensive preparation of any international team and a powerful team spirit both on and off the pitch. He paid particular tribute to the roles filled with precision and passion by the many players and backroom staff that made up the team. In summary, he was reiterating that great military saying ‘Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance’.