What is team building?
Team acceleration is our version of team building, but without the fluff that doesn’t work. Our Team Acceleration process is designed to do what the title suggests—accelerate the ability of team members to form an aligned, agile and more human environment that produces better business results.
Who needs team building?
At 5.12 Solutions, we understand that different teams have different needs and a one-size-fits-all approach to team building just doesn’t work. Here are some of the different types of teams with whom we work and their specific needs.
Executive or Leadership Teams
These teams are usually comprised of highly successful executives who often have competing priorities with their peers. The challenge at this level is to get these incredibly driven individuals to collaborate, instead of compete, as they address the most important and consequential issues the business faces. Trust, productive conflict and a first-team mindset are all critical for these teams to be successful.
These teams might be found in any given function of the business—from engineering to service to operations. The primary challenge for these teams is moving beyond a culture of nice to create the right dynamics that lead to cohesion and collaboration. Conflict avoidance and artificial harmony are too often the norm, resulting in a lack of commitment, longer decision-making processes, and unnecessary workplace drama. Trust, clear goals and explicit norms help transform these teams from dysfunctional to functional.
As the complexity of our workplace and world increases, cross-functional teams are becoming more of the norm. It might be a squad in your fast-growing tech company, a tiger team pulled together to solve a specific business issue, or a relatively flat organization that relies on people to think beyond their silos. On cross-functional teams, in addition to having a strong foundation of trust, peer-to-peer accountability is absolutely critical to their success.
What are the benefits of team building?
Team building can help a team develop in many ways. We generally think in terms of two dimensions: results and relationships:
On the results dimension, team building can help teams:
- Understand and define their team purpose
- Clarify their annual unifying goals
- Define their quarterly objectives and key results (OKRs)
- Set clear goals and expectations
- Establish team norms and ground rules
- Define the highest priority short-term projects that will produce the most important outcomes
On the relationships dimension, team-building programs can help teams:
- Establish a stronger foundation of trust
- Engage in more meaningful dialogue and productive conflict so that decisions don’t get revisited over and over again
- Establish alignment and buy-in
- Build connection and community that lead to authentic relationships
- Enable peer-to-peer accountability, instead of always having to rely on the senior leader
The bottom line is that when a team values both results and relationships, and they focus on elevating both, they create better business results, while simultaneously optimizing team member experience and culture.
What does a typical team-building program look like?
All of our team-building programs are customized based on our client’s unique needs. Some teams simply want a quick tune-up and others are looking for a more indepth engagement that builds vulnerability-based trust, higher levels of commitment, and sustainably great results.
Our shorter engagements may be comprised of a workshop or series of workshops. We might also include our Human Workplace Needs Culture assessment, a personality-style profile such as DiSC or MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), and other assessments to measure the current and future state of the team.
In our longer-term engagements with executive teams, we may also include one-on-one executive and/or leadership coaching so that we can focus on both the individual and collective to change the culture—taking more of a systems approach to the team-building work.
Other engagements might include our Coachmetrix technology, observation of teams in the workplace, and experiential activities to help a team gain better visibility into their patterns and more accurate measurement of their progress.
How do you measure results of team building?
We measure the results of our team-building engagements through several levels.
We measure participants’ reactions to the team building workshop or program. While this gives us interesting information, this level of measurement doesn’t track whether change is actually happening as a result of the program. Most reputable team building companies perform this level of measurement through a simple survey process at the end of a workshop or at key points in a program.
Each team member individually assesses his or her own behavioral change. This is more valuable data, but self-perspective can often be misaligned with how others may see a team member. Some team building companies measure at this level, but not many.
Behavioral change is measured through a pulse feedback and feedforward mechanism by people who are affected by the team member’s behaviors (usually other team members or direct reports). 5.12 Solutions was the first to create a technology to measure behavioral change at this level. Stakeholders involved in this measurement process provide valuable information that individual team members may not be able to see for themselves.
We use a variety of team building and culture assessments to establish a baseline and then assess how the team progresses against that baseline over time. This is an incredibly important level of measurement as it assesses the collective progress of all team members.
What are the pitfalls of team building or why does it fail?
Not all team building programs are created equally. Below are some of the most common reasons why team building programs often fail.
An overly fluffy approach
Some team building events are meant for teams to just have fun. And that’s great. There is an important place for this format where teams do improve relationships by just spending time together not thinking or talking about work. Examples might include going to Dave & Buster’s, a baseball game, or participating in a GPS treasure hunt. The typical ropes course, rafting trip or improv-comic-led event also fit into this category. These are all formats for fun. But they aren’t formats that result in sustained behavioral change and better long-term team building results.
A lack of practicality
Programs that lack concrete tools and frameworks to help team members apply their insights into the workplace often miss the mark. These programs are often spotted by team members who say, “Yeah, that was a great program,” but don’t have much beyond that to report or recall. In our fast-paced world, we need to be able to turn insights into action and having structured, tangible tools can help.
Not going deep enough
Some team building programs fail because they are overly superficial, emphasizing the practical. In other words, they focus solely on giving people tools and frameworks, but fail to uncover limiting mindsets, beliefs and assumptions that are actually driving a team member’s behavior. Or, they may not help team members to build self-awareness to better understand why they respond to others the way they do and how they impact the team members around them. Higher levels of self-awareness and emotional intelligence are highly correlated to better leadership and team building results. Without improved self-awareness, trust suffers and innovation stagnates.
A lack of measurement
Most team building programs and/or companies don’t have a point of view when it comes to measurement. Team building programs should be measured with the same level of discipline that we measure other aspects of our business. At 5.12 Solutions, we take measurement so seriously that we created our Coachmetrix technology to fill in the gaps that we noticed existed in our own team building programs.
A one-size-fits-all approach
Many team building companies have one flavor of a program or one format. They inevitably try to fit a square peg into a round hole and fail to see that, while there are common dynamics that happen across teams and industries, there are also unique issues that teams face that must be considered in the process. That’s why we use a disciplined approach to understanding a team’s objectives and bigger business issues at hand before we make recommendations on how to approach and design a team building engagement.
How do you get started with team building?
It’s easy to get started with team building at 5.12 Solutions.
Simply connect with us directly for a complimentary Team Building Insight Session. During this 45–60 minute conversation, we’ll explore your team’s goals and challenges and help you determine which of our team building programs may be a good fit for you and your team.