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Why teamwork and teambuilding is key in challenging times

Why teamwork and teambuilding is key in challenging times

Teambuilding programmes should run over the course of a year

It is one of the strange anomalies and, frankly, naivety of businesses today that teambuilding isn’t held in higher regard.

In the sporting world, where stakes, competition and money have increased beyond all recognition in the past 20 years, teamwork and teambuilding is treated with the utmost criticality in producing a high performing unit.

In the expedition world, too, true teamwork is the key factor in achieving a major goal – and, indeed, often staying alive. I give my teams weekly ‘teambuilding’ training and awareness in the months leading up to an expedition, as well as during it.

Yet, in the corporate world, team development languishes in the dark ages.

In the first instance, 90 per cent of companies will do either no formal teambuilding training or resort to a once a year fun based ‘teambuilding day’ in the naïve belief that this will create a high performing corporate team.

Secondly, when times are hard, any team development training will usually be scaled down or even cut. All of this is naïve, dangerous and, frankly, nonsense.

A ‘teambuilding day’ such as a treasure hunt, building a raft to cross a swimming pool or embarking on a high ropes course will bring fun, enjoyment and camaraderie – all good things to have in a corporate calendar. And if you can’t have some fun alongside the relentless pressure of sales targets, profit targets and growth, then a company isn’t putting its employees first.

But that day won’t discover or resolve communication blockages in a team, silo mentality, misunderstandings, the support each team member needs, individual and team values, its strengths and weaknesses, feedback and acknowledgement and many more factors that go into creating a high performing team.

It is easy to have a relatively well gelled team when times are good, sales are flowing in and profits are trebling every year – the periods when companies will feel they can spend money on personal, leadership and team development. Yet in recessions, challenging times and periods of uncertainty, this is the time when this development is needed more than ever.

The simple fact is that no matter what bonuses an individual employee is on, the quality and effectiveness of a team working seamlessly together is one of the key factors that will result in a company overcoming major challenges and achieving success.

There are very few employees in any organisation who work in a vacuum. So much of what we do is utterly dependent on a shared vision, objectives and goals. Teams needs true listening, understanding, support, commitment, camaraderie and cohesion.

Real team coaching and team development, as opposed to ‘teambuilding days’, provides this. A structured programme of awareness, training and development over the course of a few months or a year will provide benefits that far outweigh lost time emptying our inboxes.

In some cases, a leader has the skills to provide this awareness, training and change. However, there are so many models, mantras, lessons, examples, exercises, experiential works, tools and techniques in the world of personal, leadership and team development that it often requires the support of experts.

That is why top sporting teams enlist the skills of an entire group of coaches, psychologists and development gurus to enable every sportsperson and their team to reach their fullest potential. Companies need to have the same mind-set, if not the same scale of resources.

Programmes should run over the course of a year, so it is impossible to give all you need to know in a single article.

But here are five key tips:

1. See formal team coaching and team development as an essential a part of a company’s monthly or quarterly programme as its sales targets.

2. Have clear agreements on the need for honesty, transparency and openness in any team. Without this in place, no development programme will work.

3. As a starter session, ask the non-judgmental question ‘how are we doing as a team?’ If you have agreed on honesty and openness, it will open a rich channel of communication that will likely have been submerged for months or years.

4. Have a discovery session of what team members’ individual values, goals and objectives are. Everyone has a different DNA and everyone is motivated by different objectives. Contrary to common belief, money is not the key factor in most people’s leaving of a company.

5. Enlist a professional team coach. They have skills, tools and techniques that most managers and leaders simply do not have either the awareness or time to deliver.

Real teamwork, team development and team coaching is too critical to be left to the ‘nice to haves’ or a once a year ‘teambuilding day’. It will largely determine your company’s success or failure, which is even more vital in challenging times. Give it the importance your teams deserve.

Adrian Hayes is a British record-breaking adventurer, keynote speaker, leadership, team and executive coach, campaigner and author

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