Essential Employee Team Building Skills, How to Build Camaraderie?

by | Dec 1, 2015

exec_coach_blog_2015_07_28A few rare individuals are natural born leaders. The rest need training to develop effective employee team building skills. I recently conducted an “off-site” brainstorming session for one of my clients.

This particular organization had recently participated in a major trade show event, and their manager wanted to bring the team together to share ideas picked up at the event, as well as create a plan to move forward for the upcoming year.

A few weeks prior to the brainstorming session, I met with the manager to discuss the details and session objectives.

It was clear that he had some excellent objectives. Below are some of his thoughts:

“People will be excited to share what they’ve learnt. I want this brainstorming session to get all the ideas onto the table,” he said.

“I want to make the session educational yet fun, and most importantly, maximize the collective wisdom of all my folks.”

“To help facilitate further discussion, I have purchased a great book for each person. I only hope they’ll read it”, he added.

“And, be prepared to have a few challenges with teamwork. We will need to enhance the “team atmosphere” as well.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I wouldn’t let a comment like enhance “team atmosphere” pass without getting to the heart of the situation.

With a bit of probing, I discovered that an uncooperative spirit existed between a couple of the “team members” and the manager was hoping to “mend the fences” and get them working together again. This was a good example where employee team building skills and experience were invaluable to setting up a process to make that happen.

It was my job to create an amazing experience for the people who attended, to encourage each person to contribute good ideas, repair a relationship and put together an action plan. Piece of cake!

Here are the strategies I implemented:

To make sure everyone was on the same page, I asked each employee for a book report. I have used this strategy in the past, and it worked extremely well. Everyone that attended the meeting had their book report in hand. They were fully prepared to discuss the concepts and offer suggestions.

The more challenging task was changing the team dynamics. This is a delicate matter and I know from my experiences leading management teams, that relationships can’t usually be repaired long term by addressing the issue publicly or by decree.

From past experiences, I knew that the only way to solve the problem was to focus on understanding the problem. Because more often than not, the situation being addressed is not the real or underlying situation that requires attention.

In a typical brainstorming meeting, participants tend to rely on their “First Person” default modes. These are defined as “safe ideas” or ideas that have worked well in other situations. The problem with First Person ideas is that participants tend to express and promote already existing ideas, without developing new perspectives about the problem.

I had to use an approach that would shift conversations to “Third Person” and away from the default mode of “First Person”. Drawing on neuroscience based insights, I had to encourage participants to contribute (and generate) ideas with new solutions.

By asking each person “What they thought about the team dynamic and its challenges” I created a powerful stimulus to generate new ideas in Third Person mode. After the stimulus, I enabled the participants to capture ideas as they emerged instead of trying to generate them at a specific time or within a given time-frame.

When using this approach, it is virtually impossible for one person to dominate a meeting. I called on all participants and they contributed equally.

No holds barred, one of the very best ways to build camaraderie is to truly understand how other teammates approach a problem and what motivates them. It can strengthen a team in far more meaningful ways than playing games ever could.

I recommend you use some of these employee team building techniques to uncover your teams true, gut feelings as well as discover outcomes that will make your team even stronger and more valuable.

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